CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The National Weather Service was the first to admit it was a tricky storm to predict. They were well off in their prediction of one to three inches when a sudden March storm roared into the southern coalfields and up into the West Virginia mountains Monday morning. The storm put down a tremendous amount of snow quickly in some places, while other spots, not far away, saw almost nothing.
“The tricky part of the forecast was how quickly we were going to cool, how quickly the ground was going to cool, and whether the precipitation would be rain or snow,” said Meteorologist Maura Casey of the Charleston Weather Bureau. “In this case, clearly, it cooled down enough to generate this much snowfall over that particular corridor.”
The bulk of the snow hit in south of Charleston and east of I-79. North and west of Charleston, the accumulation was minimal. But a band of the heaviest snow put down anywhere from nine inches along the Boone/Lincoln County line to 15 inches in Craigsville in Nicholas County.
“If you draw a line from that Lincoln/Boone border up through southern Nicholas and southern Pocahontas, that was the line where we got very high snowfall totals,” Casey explained on Metronews Talkline Monday.
Casey added, it may not be done.
“Through the end of the week, we do have cold air persisting,” she explained. “When we get flow out of the north like this, will drum up some snow showers for the duration of the week in the mountains and in the lowlands as well.”
Many of those same areas on Sunday afternoon were experiencing temperatures in the 50s and sunshine.
The snow caught a lot of drivers off guard as it hit just as people were headed to work. Some main arteries like U.S. Route 119 in the coalfields and U.S. Route 19 through Nicholas County were extremely hazardous along with the West Virginia Turnpike. Numerous accidents slowed traffic on all of those thoroughfares Monday and even more on secondary routes as the Division of Highways struggled to keep up amid the quick falling snow.
At one point snow was falling in Nicholas County at a rate of four inches an hour according to Casey.