The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

December 20, 2012

Winter storm moving into area

System could bring several inches of snow to the region

BLUEFIELD — Forecasters are calling for strong wind gusts today in advance of a winter storm that could bring several inches of snowfall to the region Friday.

Robert Beasley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va., said a high wind advisory is in effect for Mercer, Tazewell, Bland and Giles counties beginning at 6 a.m. today.

“We do currently have a high wind advisory in effect for today, which could be upgraded to a high wind watch on tonight and Friday,” Beasley said. “For today, the first thing that comes in is the wind advisory that begins at 6 a.m. in the morning and is in effect all day. In advance of the main storm system we could see warm winds between 25 to 30 miles per hour and possibly up to 50 miles per hour. This is an issue we see in the higher ridges of Tazewell and Mercer counties when we get strong winds ahead of these storms. Before the day is over, there will be a line of showers coming through with some very gusty winds. The strongest winds should hit from late morning through mid-afternoon with those showers. It should die down as we get into the evening.”

Beasley said rain is predicted to accompany the high gusts of winds late in the day.

“The area will start seeing quite a bit of wind early in the morning and through the day,” he said. “About midday there should be a line of heavy showers coming through with the heaviest rain through early to mid-afternoon. The rain will move out and the temperature will be mild, but when that cold air comes in it will come in with a vengeance.”

Beasley said colder air and snow are expected to follow the heavy winds and rain.

“On the backside of this storm we will see cold air, snow potential and more wind,” Beasley said. “As it stands right now we do have a winter storm watch in effect for Mercer County and much of southern West Virginia, though we could upgrade it to a winter storm warning especially for Greenbrier. I don’t have quite as much confidence we will upgrade it for Mercer and Summers counties. Right now, we do not have a watch out for our Virginia areas. Tazewell and Bland counties might get at least an advisory, but I doubt they will meet warning criteria as they are downwind of the Alleghenies.”

Beasley said higher elevations like Mercer County could see at least six inches of snow throughout the day Friday while lower elevations like Monroe, Bland, and Tazewell counties could see anywhere from three to six inches of snow by late Friday.

“We are expecting at least six inches of snow in the higher elevations in the Bluefield area and higher elevations of Mercer, Greenbrier, and Summers counties from late this evening through Friday afternoon,” he said. “This will be an extended event. Monroe County doesn’t have as many big mountains, so in that county we are looking at mainly one to three inch snows. The winter storm watch does not include any Virginia counties yet. There may be some advisories go out, but for less than six inches of snow. There will probably not be any significant snow on the ground Friday morning. It will mostly be a dusting. As you move into Friday afternoon and evening the wind will pick up and the snow will increase, particularly in higher elevations and westward upslopes. We could see three to six inches of snow from Bluefield to the Tazewell, Va., area.”

Beasley said drivers of high profile vehicles should use caution, especially when driving in higher elevations.

“Of course, the wind will be worse in the higher elevations,” Beasley said. “If you are driving a high profile vehicle you want to especially be careful in higher elevations and where wind is channeled through the mountains. People need to be especially careful on roads that run east to west as there will be more of a crosswind and a tendency to blow vehicles off the road, especially trucks, trailers and campers.”

Beasley said residents should also consider taking in Christmas decorations they don’t want damaged by the wind.

“I think obviously some of those larger holiday decorations could be damaged,” Beasley said. “The kind of ornaments set in the yard could be blown over. The blow-up Santas and snowmen people have out in their yards could be damaged. Light sets attached the home should be OK. It could mess them up a bit here and there, but anything nailed down and attached to the home should be OK. Those loose ornaments and yard displays, it might be better to take them in for the night if possible.”

— Coil is a writer for The Bluefield Daily Telegraph


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