Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 26, 2013

Freezing rain and snow to complicate Thanksgiving travel

By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

PRINCETON — Today’s morning commuters are watching for freezing rain, and holiday travelers are keeping wary eyes on travel conditions as winter weather moves into the region just in time for Thanksgiving.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service expect some mixed light snow and sleet this morning, said meteorologist Jim Hudgins with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va. A winter weather advisory went into effect at 2 a.m. It is expected to end by noon today. The advisory covers Mercer, Bland, Summers, and Monroe counties.

“That will last an hour or two at most,” he said of early morning conditions. “And then it will go to rain or freezing rain, depending on what the surface temperatures are.”

Up to two inches or more of rain is possible, according to the weather advisory.

Some mountain ridges could warm up while cold air is trapped in some valley areas, Hudgins said. Motorists should beware of freezing rain, which could be present until late morning.

More problems are expected Wednesday when many people will be traveling to Thanksgiving Day destinations. Snow could develop by late tonight and continue until Wednesday morning. Temperatures will be cold enough for snow to accumulate; up to four inches is possible. Gusts of up to 45 mph are possible behind the cold front Wednesday.

“We’re pretty confident there’s going to be some snow,” Hudgins said. “How much is pretty tricky.”

Snow should start tapering off by Wednesday evening, but the weather will still be “breezy cold” with temperatures in the upper teens, he said. This could contribute to slick road conditions.

Thanksgiving Day will see temperatures in the teens and drier conditions.

“The worst time will be tomorrow (Tuesday) night and Wednesday morning,” Hudgins said.

Local road crews are preparing for whatever winter conditions arrive in southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia.

“We rely on the same reports most everyone else does,” Tom Camden, supervisor of state Department of Highways Division 10 near Princeton, said Monday.

Ice is expected this morning with rain and some snow later today. The state DOH has been in touch with road crews to make sure a full staff is ready to address winter road conditions.

“We’ve already been in touch with people to ensure we have a full crew available both during the day and night,” Camden said. “We’ll have two shifts running.”

Crews will also be ready in Virginia, said Michelle Earl, a spokesperson with the Virginia Department of Transportation.

Travelers can call 511 in both West Virginia and Virginia to learn about highway conditions. Highway conditions are also available at wv511.org and 511virginia.org.