By Carra Higgins
Elevation could be a key factor when the winds and rain of Hurricane Sandy and the blast of cold air from Canada are expected to meet in southern West Virginia late tonight through Tuesday, the National Weather Service says.
Beginning this evening, Raleigh, Summers, Greenbrier, Fayette and Nicholas counties will be under a winter storm watch that meteorologists say is “definitely coming.” The area could see between 4 and 8 inches of heavy, wet snow and winds. However, because the ground is still warm and air temperatures are supposed to remain around 32 degrees, the snow will need to fall very heavily before it accumulates, according to the NWS.
Those in higher elevations, especially mountains east of Beckley, could experience indirect 50-mile-per-hour winds and snow accumulation. Lower elevations, such as Oak Hill, however, may not see much snow during the next few days, meteorologists are predicting.
Beckley Director of Emergency Services Kevin Taylor attended a meeting Friday at the NWS in Charleston, where the upcoming “Frankenstorm” was discussed.
Taylor said Beckley may receive only around 5 inches of snow, which is nothing out of the ordinary if it were December. What makes this storm seem out of place is the fact it’s coming in October — before most people here are used to seeing snow accumulation.
The former fire chief says the city and its workers will be ready for the snowfall, but he is encouraging residents to use “common sense” and make sure their homes are well stocked with supplies.
If needed, shelters will open, but residents need to ensure they can be self-sufficient in the event of snow and power outages. Even though emergency workers will be out, they may not be able to reach and assist some residents for as many as 24 hours, Taylor said.
In the event of emergency situations, Taylor said Emergency Services will communicate with local media outlets and update its social networking sites to keep the public informed.
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