CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A quick drop in temperatures was expected to turn most roads in West Virginia icy by Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service.
“We’re going to have a lot of wet roadways and then plummeting temperatures behind this cold front,” said Maura Casey, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston, on Friday morning.
“So the No. 1 hazard we have here is, what we call, a ‘flash freeze’ across roadways.”
The arrival of the significantly colder temperatures was projected for around 5 p.m. along the Ohio River in northern West Virginia and roughly 8 p.m. near Huntington in southern West Virginia.
A period of freezing rain and sleet was expected before the transition to all snow around 12 a.m. Saturday in areas along the Ohio River which the changeover shifting east from there through the Saturday morning hours.
Ice accumulations would vary, Casey said, with up to 1/10 inch of ice possible in the Northern Panhandle.
The heaviest snow, potentially 3-5 inches or more, was expected to also fall in Wheeling along with areas to the north of the city.
Snow totals were projected to be lower along the Ohio River south of Ohio County and into central West Virginia with a couple of inches of snow and then to less than an inch possibly in Charleston and Beckley.
“But this is a complicated weather setup and there’s a lot of uncertainty, especially in the mid-Ohio Valley,” Casey cautioned.
“Depending on when we get the cold air coming in versus when the moisture moves out, we could possibly get more or less snow essentially.”
Potential western lowland snow amounts were being called “variable” and “uncertain” as of Friday morning.
Winter weather advisories were scheduled to take effect in much of West Virginia, with the exceptions of the Eastern Panhandle and southeastern West Virginia counties, late Friday afternoon or Friday night.
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After a Thursday night of heavy rain and melting snowpack, flood warnings remained in effect on Friday morning for parts of Wood, Tyler, Ohio, Hancock, Marshall, Wetzel, Brooke, Monongalia and Marion counties.
As of 11 a.m. Friday, meteorologists said water was starting to recede.
Flood watches were scheduled to continue into Saturday afternoon in many of the same counties along with Preston County.
“It’s a good, old-fashioned winter weather nightmare,” Casey said of the messy system packing the potential for heavy rain, sleet, ice accumulations and snow.
“It’s a little complicated, quite a bit messy, but the impacts are still pretty clear as far as hazardous driving conditions through Saturday morning.”