CHARLESTON, W.Va. — March is roaring in like a lion today in West Virginia.  Severe storm activity which spawned tornadoes in the mid-west overnight has rolled across the Ohio River and hit the Mountain State with intense thunderstorms packing heavy rain and high winds.

The National Weather Service in Charleston earlier today issued a number of tornado warnings in central counties of the state.  A check with emergency services officials in those counties revealed no sightings or calls of problems so far.   In Kanawha County workers at a UPS Terminal report to MetroNews damages from high winds, including broken vehicle windows and a damaged sign in the Nitro area.

Several counties schools activated emergency plans placing schools on lock down and forcing students to shelter in place as a precaution.

Power outages as a result of the storms are widespread.   Appalachian Power reports more than 23,000 outages in its West Virginia service area.   Mon Power reported more than 2,500 outages in West Virginia.  Both totals are expected to increase throughout the day.

The weather service has issued flash flood watches for almost every county north of Charleston and Elkins with the exception of Hancock County.   Small streams could quickly rise in a deluge of rain.  Those storms are expected to hit off and on until this evening.  The flood watch is in effect until Wednesday night.    Severe thunderstorm warnings are also in effect for roughly the same areas.

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