By Bill Archer
For The Register-Herald
BLUEFIELD — With Hurricane Sandy moving menacingly up the East Coast, meteorologists are keeping close tabs on the storm some are calling “Frankenstorm” because of its arrival just days before Halloween.
Weather forecasters with State College, Pa., based AccuWeather say that the “rare and dangerous storm” driven by Hurricane Sandy heading north, influenced by an upper-air disturbance heading east over the Great Lakes region and a full moon on Monday afternoon could combine to create a storm “like a large nor’easter on steroids,” according to Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.
The National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va., has been more cautious about its forecast, but posted a “Hazardous Weather Outlook” for early next week, stating: “The remains of Sandy will combine with an upper disturbance to pull in colder air into the mountains by Sunday night into early next week. This system is capable of producing strong, potentially damaging winds and accumulating snows based on the current forecast track.”
Anita Silverman, a meteorologist with the Blacksburg office of the National Weather Service said the weather service usually updates its forecast at 4 p.m., and 4 a.m., but during the next 12-24 hours, they will updating the forecast every three hours. She said as of Friday afternoon, the weather service was not projecting Sandy’s inland path. “Not at this point,” she said.
The fall foliage season in southern West Virginia and southwestern Virginia hasn’t ended yet, and as a result, Appalachian Power is watching Sandy’s path closely, according to APCO spokesman Phil Moye. “A heavy, wet snow at this time of year with so many leaves still on the trees could be disastrous,” Moye said.
“We want our parent company, American Electric Power, to make sure we have some repair crews in our area ready in case we’re hit hard by the storm,” he said. “We also have 100 or more of our own folks packed and ready in case they’re called on to help in other areas where there is a great need. Our folks really have to be prepared for problems inside or outside of our service area.”
The threat of the storm prompted Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, before noon on Friday, to declare a state of emergency as a precautionary measure because the storm has a potential to cause flooding, widespread power outages and even snow in some parts of Virginia. The Virginia National Guard placed 300 personnel on active state duty for “possible severe weather recovery operations from Hurricane Sandy,” and will start staging 50 guardsmen on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, according to a press release.
In West Virginia, the state Division of Highways issued a press release stating all 10 DOH Divisions in the state are making preparations to deal with the storm and added that, “crews are making sure that they are stocked with equipment such as chainsaws, generators and mobile messaging boards.”
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin encouraged all state residents to prepare for severe weather by gathering batteries, flash lights, bottled water, non-perishable food items, blankets, medications, a battery-operated radio and other necessities.
Today’s high temperature will be 60 degrees with a low of 43, and a 50 percent chance of rain. On Sunday, the high will be about 49 degrees, the low 35 and chance of precipitation 60 percent. The temperatures will drop on Monday and Tuesday, bringing a chance of rain and snow both days.
— Bill Archer is a writer for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph