CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Crews with the state Division of Highways anticipate their first big test of winter today when the first big storm of the season hits.
There’s expected to be snow, ice and freezing rain depending on the elevation. Weather forecasters say the DOH crews will likely have to be plowing snow in the eastern panhandle.
Complex winter storm to bring a wintry mix of precipitation Wednesday into Wednesday night. Significant snowfall and travel impacts are likely for the WV mountains, and even back into the northern WV lowlands..
— NWS Charleston, WV (@NWSCharlestonWV) December 16, 2020
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for nor’easter that’s expected to arrive around mid-morning Wednesday and continue into Thursday morning.
According to meteorologists, parts of Mineral, Hardy, Pendleton, Pocahontas and Randolph counties could see anywhere from 8 to 12 inches of snow with as much as 12 to 18 inches in Berkeley, Morgan and Jefferson counties. Winter storm warnings are posted from Morgantown south to Beckley and east to Martinsburg.
“The air will be much colder over that way and it will likely be mostly snow in that area,” Charleston-based National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeff Hovis said Tuesday.
Crews with the state Division of Highways were prepping Tuesday afternoon for what’s expected to be a busy day Wednesday into Thursday. It may be a challenge to keep Interstate 81 clear and parts of busy state Route 9, U.S. 522, U.S. 220 and U.S. 50 could have issues with heavy snow. The City of Martinburg’s Public Works Department said it’s snow removal teams would be operating on 12-hour shifts beginning Wednesday morning.
Upcoming winter system will cause the greatest impact in the WV mountains/Eastern Panhandle. Travel Wednesday afternoon and evening will be significantly impacted in these areas. Lesser impacts are expected west of the mountains.https://t.co/6bId2j4pfw#wvwx #ohwx #kywx #vawx pic.twitter.com/zihzgqfB94
— NWS Charleston, WV (@NWSCharlestonWV) December 15, 2020
The storm will cover the entire Mountain State but warmer temperatures will create changing forms of precipitation in the lowlands,Hovis said.
“It could be a mix of rain and snow across the lowlands, transitioning to all rain. Initially there could be some freezing rain as well and then Wednesday night it could transition back to snow,” Hovis said.
It’s expected to stay colder longer in areas north of U.S. Route 50 where accumulation could be a few inches. Hovis said the further east you go in the state it will stay colder and that along with the higher elevations will produce conditions for all snow.
Hovis said morning rush traffic may have a problem in the lowland because the storm will arrive there first early Wednesday morning.
“There could be a mix of some freezing rain. We’re not expecting a whole lot but it could be enough to make traffic an issue,” he said.