MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — West Virginia got hit with an early winter storm Thursday that included plowable snow in the state’s Eastern Panhandle to measurable ice in the southeastern portions of the state.
Unofficial snow totals include 8.5 inches in Keyser, 7.5 inches in Ridgeley and 7 inches in Martinsburg.
According to the National Weather Service, ice broke tree limbs in an area of southern West Virginia extending toward the eastern mountains. There was a .10 to a .25 of an inch of ice in the mountains to one-third of an inch of ice in the Beckley area up through the Greenbrier Valley.
Appalachian Power Company was still reporting more than 19,000 of its customers in West Virginia without service at 5 p.m. Thursday. The most in Raleigh County (8,800 outages) and Mercer County (4,300 outages).
10 am update from our Martinsburg studios. It’s a very thick, heavy snow. @NWS_BaltWash now says 2-5 inches possible with a chance of ice. @WVMetroNews @Panhandle_Live @975wkmz pic.twitter.com/TOeBURM0nJ
— Mike McCullough (@MikeMcC_MN) November 15, 2018
Berkeley, Jefferson, Morgan Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Grant and Mineral County schools all closed Thursday in addition to private schools. Potomac State College in Keyser, Blue Ridge Community and Technical College.
Driving was treacherous for a while on Interstate 81 in Berkeley County, according to state Division of Highways District 5 Manager Lee Thorne.
“They (roads) are very slick. We started out with maybe a small amount of freezing rain but then we had sleet and snow on top of that,” Thorne told WEPM Radio in Martinsburg. “The key is to slow down, take it easy, avoid hitting your breaks and avoid acceleration.”
Thorne said while working on I-81 near mile marker 12 Thursday morning, a DOH plow was involved in an accident with another vehicle. No injuries were reported.
“The vehicle just shifted lanes in front of those plows. From one (lane) into the other and swerved out of control and one of our plows hit the vehicle,” Thorne said. “Of course when that happens, a truck is out of commission, you’ve got a lane closure, it just causes problems all the way around.”
A second weather system was in the forecast for most of the state Thursday night into early Friday morning.
“We’re going to see a change to some wet snow even down across the lowlands where a grassy coating is possible,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Nick Webb said. “Particularly across the northern West Virginia lowland counties and across the mountains they may end up with 1 to 3 inches of snow.”
The weather will improve Friday afternoon, Webb said.
“We should start to see some sunshine, particularly across the southern half of the state, and we should clear out for most places Friday and actually Saturday looks to be the best day, weather-wise, of the next several,” Webb said. “It will be chilly, still below normal for this time of year.”
The colder than normal temperatures are probably going to continue for the foreseeable future.
“As it looks right now, I really don’t see any significant break in this pattern,” Webb said.
Jeff Jenkins contributed to this story.