The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

December 29, 2012

Top stories of 2012 — No. 3 'Frankenstorm' snowfall halts the state



Almost exactly four months after a derecho toppled trees and knocked out power for a week or more during the summer’s sweltering heat, another storm began brewing.

 This time, though, the winds and rain were from Hurricane Sandy and they were meeting with cold air from Canada in the West Virginia mountains to once again cripple parts of the region for nearly a week — not only because of the loss of electric, but added to it was several feet of snow.

Forecasters and others at first dubbed it “Frankenstorm” — an odd autumn-winter wallop that would have seemed normal had it been January. The “Frankenstorm” — just like the fictional monster — was being created by parts of various weather scenarios, and was predicted to hit the region around Halloween. “Frankenstorm” eventually was called Superstorm Sandy because of its original status as Hurricane Sandy and the serious devastation it left throughout the Northeast United States.

No one knew for sure just how much snow the region would receive. Early predictions ranged from 2 inches to 2 feet and wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour were expected. One thing was nearly a forgone conclusion: widespread power outages.

By Oct. 29, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin had declared a state of emergency and asked that all residents heed warnings to stock up on food, water and other necessities because power would be out for several days. That evening, the bread, canned goods and water on the shelves of local stores had been picked over and in some cases were bare. Few flashlights and other power outage necessities could be found either.

It wasn’t just residents who were preparing. Appalachian Power Co. brought more than 400 workers into the area before the storm hit in order for electric to be restored to homes and businesses as soon as safe and possible. Some places — including the downtown Beckley area — didn’t lose power, or at least not for any significant amount of time between Oct. 29 and when the worst of the snow was finished late Oct. 30. But those who did were without it for more than a week.

The peak of the power outages hit during the afternoon of Oct. 30. At that point more than 260,000 of West Virginia’s electric customers were in the dark and cold, too. Local shelters had been activated and were being used by some; however, emergency workers presumed that many people without power had opted to stay with family and friends instead.

In Nicholas County — one of the hardest hit in the state — residents of Richwood on Nov. 1 were beginning to return to a normal way of life. Some residents of Richwood and Nicholas County did take advantage of the warmth, company and food being provided at The Food and Clothing Pantry — a place where neighbors helped neighbors as best they could.

Snowfall totals in Beckley alone were at nearly two feet, while it wasn’t a stretch to say snow in higher elevations was at five feet in parts of Nicholas County, said Richwood Fire Chief Tommy Coleman.

Signs on homes told power company crews “No Power” while businesses and homeowners began to dig out of the snow and even make plans to re-build or repair — roofs and some structures collapsed or were damaged by the weight of the heavy snow. The roofs of the U-Save convenience stores in both Summersville and Craigsville had fallen in during the storm.

Rachel Gohil, secretary/ treasurer of U-Save, spent time Thursday, Nov. 1, helping clean the Summersville location. Like many others who were affected by the storm, she said, “You don’t let it knock you down.”

When comparing the October snowfall to others, many could only remember storms that had occurred 20 or more years ago. A few people in Nicholas County recalled the March 1993 snowfall, while Frank Spencer, 89, remembered snowfalls that happened in 1942 and 1961.

By Friday, Nov. 2, major transportation arteries had been cleared and the region began its return to normalcy as power returned modern conveniences and the winter necessity of heat.

The Associated Press reported in late November that seven deaths in West Virginia were associated with Superstorm Sandy.

— E-mail: chiggins@register-herald.com

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Concord names Dr. Boggess as new president

    The Concord University Board of Governors has selected Dr. Kendra Boggess as the University’s 12th president, contingent upon approval by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

    April 23, 2014

  • fff Experts help growing entrepreneurs

    For farmers like the Yateses, there’s money on the table. They got to learn what and where some of those resources are at the Farm, Food, Finance seminar held at the Sandstone Visitor Center on Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Trucking association asks drivers to put down phones and drive safely

    As part of National Distracted Driving Month, the West Virginia Trucking Association is asking fellow drivers to put down the phone, according to a press release from the association.

    April 23, 2014

  • Rahall calls meeting on W.Va.’s drug problem

    U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall says he has arranged a roundtable discussion with federal and West Virginia officials on the state’s prescription drug abuse and trafficking problems.

    April 23, 2014

  • 042314 News APP Power.jpg Utility gets public input for project

    Construction on a $56 million transmission improvement project will begin in Fayette County come November, and representatives of Appalachian Power Company hosted a public workshop Tuesday at Midland Trail High School in order to gather community feedback before construction officially gets underway.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 042314 News Burlington Circus Tix.jpg Burlington kids going to circus

    After a donation from a radio station, a group of local kids soon will get to see the wonders of the big top.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lewisburg takes initial step toward ‘Home Rule’

    While the state Department of Commerce touts the success of phase I of the Municipal Home Rule Pilot Program, a Greenbrier County city hopes to be included in phase II, which will continue until July 1, 2019.

    April 23, 2014

  • United Way to host ‘One Day Without Shoes’ walk

    Everyone is invited to take off their shoes for a walk around town April 29 to raise global awareness about child poverty.

    April 23, 2014

  • Women’s Resource Center to show free film for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

    In effort to bring awareness and prevention, the Women’s Resource Center will host a free showing of the 2012 movie “Bully.”

    April 23, 2014

  • Ask the WVU experts on Facebook

    From graduation to gardening, West Virginia University Extension Service experts will provide their advice to participants’ specific questions during a new, weekly, one-hour question and answer session through its Facebook page.

    April 23, 2014