CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More bitter cold was expected for much of West Virginia on Wednesday after heavy snow blanketed the state.
Rounds of snow from a system that also pounded New York, Philadelphia and Boston first moved through West Virginia.
According to reports to MetroNews, the storm put down four inches of snow in West Virginia’s Ohio River Valley, 5 inches or more in North Central West Virginia and more than 8 inches in portions of Pocahontas County and Randolph County.
The snow started in the early morning hours Tuesday and continued through much of the day.
Meteorologists with the National Weather Service said snow was falling at a rate of more than one inch per hour in parts of the Southern Coalfields and Eastern Mountains.
With that kind of pace, crews with the state Division of Highways struggled to keep roads clear.
“This is probably the worst snow that we’ve seen, statewide. I mean, we’re talking anywhere from two to eight-plus inches in some places,” said Carrie Bly, spokesperson for the Division of Highways.
Sections of Interstate 79, Interstate 77 and Interstate 64 were closed to traffic intermittently Tuesday afternoon and evening to give the plows and salt trucks time and room to adequately treat the main roads.
Many secondary roads remained ice-covered amid white-out conditions.
“We’ve had accidents happening and vehicles (drivers) that just couldn’t see, so they thought they were pulling over off the road and they weren’t and they were actually pulling onto exit ramps,” said Bly.
Dropping temperatures also complicated matters. “It’s never good when we have snow or ice on the roads and then we have a wind chill advisory because that’s just another challenge,” said Bly. “That’s ice, which is even more difficult for us to battle than snow.”
A Winter Storm Warning for much of West Virginia was lifted late Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning, leaving wind chill warnings and advisories for many parts of West Virginia.
The forecast was calling for sub-zero or single-digit temperatures by dawn, with wind chills predicted to be much lower.
“That’s when the salt and stuff they put on the road, that’s when they’re least effective,” said Faith Borden, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
By Tuesday evening, dozens of county school systems had already canceled classes for Wednesday.