Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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July 8, 2012

Region continues to bake

BLUEFIELD — Marc Meachum spent most of the day Saturday at the Greenbrier Classic, and while he saw a temperature reading of 93 as he passed through Union, he wasn’t immediately convinced that the temperature had passed the 90 degree mark at home.

“Now, is that the temperature in your backyard, or is that the temperature for Bluefield posted by the National weather Service,” Meachum, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce said as he learned the Mercer County Airport registered another 92 degree day on Saturday.

“I’ll have to start squeezing lemons then,” he said. “We’ll be serving lemonade on Monday.” The Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce has served lemonade on the first business day after local temperatures reached the 90 degree mark since 1941. The city had four consecutive 90-plus degree days from June 28-July 1, and the Chamber’s corps of volunteer “Lemonade Lassies and Lads” have been out in force this year. Meachum doesn’t really squeeze lemons. The fruit of the lemon comes to the two Bluefields courtesy of Kwik Kafé.

A few intrepid souls participated in outdoor activities on Saturday, but with the exception of local swimming pools, many outdoor activities appeared to be sparsely attended with the exception of the annual Appalachian Highlands Music Association at Princeton city Park.

“After lying on my back for as long as I did at Southern Highlands, this feels pretty good,” Bill Morefield said as he and his wife, Doris Morefield, enjoyed the music and the shade of some big oak trees in the park. Morefield has had some health challenges since February, but was smiling in the shade, surrounded by good music, good friends and his wife.

The Appalachian Power Co., has been making some headway with its power restoration efforts. By 6 p.m., Saturday, the American Electric Power web site posted that the number of APCO customers in Mercer County still without power had dropped to below 2,000, at 1,993.

The number of APCO customers without power in McDowell County had dropped to 853, Buchanan County, Va., was down to 316 and Tazewell County, Va., was down to 251, but Giles County, Va., was still a trouble spot with 2,346 customers still without power. Late Saturday afternoon, several APCO and contract repair vehicles were heading into Giles County.

Mike Sporer, a meteorologist with the National weather Service in Blacksburg, Va., said Saturday evening that the most current model of the severe storm system headed into the region today will arrive a few hours later than previously expected.

“We had been predicting that it would arrive at about 2 p.m., in the afternoon, but now we’re looking for it to arrive at about 5-6 p.m.,” Sporer said. “Everyone is really on edge because of the severe storm we had last week, but this system won’t be anything like that system. There were a combination of factors that came together in that system that was highly unusual. It was really rare.

“When people think about a severe storm at this time of year, they think tornado, tornado, tornado, but a straight line wind storm can cause as much damage as a weak tornado, but they’re really rare,” he said. “It’s good for people to understand how much damage a straight line wind storm can bring, but we don’t see anything like those conditions in the system coming in (today),” he said.

A spokesman for the McDowell County Office of Emergency Services said that River View High School is still open as a shelter, cooling station and a place where a person can take a shower. “They can stay the night there too if they want to,” John Sidote of the county OES said. He added that local volunteer fire departments will now be distributing supplies. “Contact local fire departments if you need supplies,” he said.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com

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