Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 29, 2013

Winter cold breaks for warm spell

BLUEFIELD — Enjoy the nice weather outside today. It isn’t going to last long.

In fact, the region will be seeing a little bit of everything in the weather department over the next four days, culminating with the annual Groundhog Day prediction Friday by Concord Charlie on the campus of Concord University.

A high of 64 degrees is predicted for today, which is a good 20 degrees above normal for this time of the year. However, the region will have to hit 65 degrees today in order to break the record of 64 degrees, which was set on Jan. 29, 2002. From there the forecast gets complicated, according to Mike Sporer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va.

“There is a pretty strong cold front coming in for the latter part of Wednesday,” Sporer said. “It is a very dynamic system. There is a wind threat with this system, and also the possibility of heavy rain.”

The current forecast calls for strong and gusty winds on Wednesday with periods of heavy rain. The ground is already saturated from snow and melting snow, and that in return could lead to minor river flooding.

“There is always a concern with how much liquid is in the snowpack,” Sporer said. “(Monday) turned out to be fairly warm, and (today) will be fairly warm. So we are going to get a chance to release a lot of this snowfall before the heavy rain.”

The rain will then turn to snow Wednesday night.

“We will see dramatically falling temperatures,” Sporer said. “By the time we wake up Thursday morning, we will be looking at temperatures down into the 30s. So that will be a pretty dramatic change.”

The snow will continue Thursday and into Friday — just in time for the groundhog’s early prediction Friday morning. Because Groundhog Day hits on a Saturday this year, university officials in Athens are banking on Concord Charlie making his annual prediction a day earlier than normal. In fact, the university has scheduled its annual Groundhog Day breakfast for Friday morning from 8 to 10 a.m. at the Concord University ballroom.

But temperatures on Friday morning will be in the 20s with a continuing chance of snow showers, Sporer said.

Regardless of what the groundhog says on Friday, Sporer said the extended outlook by the National Weather Service is calling for normal temperatures and normal precipitation levels for the period extending from Feb. 3 through 7.

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com

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