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Snow, ice create mess for Kanawha Valley

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The weather outside was certainly frightful over the weekend with high water, cold temperatures and wet, heavy snow blanketing the area.

A flood watch remains in effect until Monday as melting snow and additional rains were expected to cause streams and rivers to rise slightly.

The snow fell in big, wet flakes early Sunday morning after a weekend of rain, leading to problems on the roads. The rain began Thursday and didn't really let up until Saturday but freezing temperatures led to a shift in precipitation -- from rain to freezing rain to snow, said Tom Mazza, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston.

"We had a crazy start this morning," a Putnam County emergency dispatcher said. "Thirteen (wrecks) this morning throughout the county."

Two tractor-trailers crashed Sunday morning on Interstate 64 near the U.S. 35 interchange after an encounter with ice, dispatchers said. Putnam County saw between 2 and 5 inches of snow Sunday.

Charleston saw between an inch and a half to 2 inches of snow, Mazza said. Kanawha Metro 911 dispatchers received reports of crashes around the county as well, with incidents on Corridor G (U.S. 119), Interstate 77 near Leon Sullivan Way, DuPont Avenue near the DuPont Belle Plant, Interstate 64 near Institute and Frame Road in the Elkview area.

"We didn't have a bunch, we had a few today," a Kanawha County dispatcher said regarding car crashes. "There were a lot more vehicles losing traction more than anything else. There weren't very many people on the roads because its Sunday morning.

"If you don't have to be out there, don't go out."

More than 50 West Virginia churches -- including some in downtown Charleston and Huntington -- cancelled Sunday morning (and some evening) services because of road conditions, according to a list on WSAZ-TV's website. 

Mazza said those areas to the north of Charleston, such as Ripley, Spencer, Liberty and areas just south of Clarksburg received between 4 and 6 inches of snow. The snow was nice, heavy snow, perfect for snowmen and snowball fights, the meteorologist said.

Temperatures crept above freezing Sunday afternoon and were expected to rise through the day into the low 40s. Rain was forecast for today but Mazza said cold temperatures would turn the rain into a sleety-snowy mix this evening.

"A little weather system could bring more snow Tuesday morning or Monday night," Mazza said. "The roads could be a little tricky Tuesday morning depending on salt and stuff. There could be a little bit of light snow.

"Then it'll get really cold Tuesday night with lows around 20 (degrees) and into the upper teens. There'll be more of a chance for freezing." 

The flood watch remains in effect until 1 p.m. today for more than 20 counties -- Barbour, Boone, Braxton, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Gilmer, Harrison, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, Nicholas, Putnam, Roane, Taylor, Upshur, Wayne and Webster -- because of the rain and melting snow expected.

Streams and rivers were high after the weekend rains. Thursday saw .77 inches of rain, while Friday saw 2.08 inches and Saturday saw .01 inches of rain, bringing the total up to 2.86 of rain in the Charleston area.

The Elk River in Clay County rose with the downpours, cresting early Saturday at 19.45 feet near Clay causing minor flooding and at 20.19 feet at Queen Shoals where moderate flood stage is 20 feet, Mazza said. The river was expected to rise only slightly with the approaching rain and snowmelt.

Mazza said the Sutton Dam closed Friday but that engineers reopened it Saturday to release some of the water building up.

The Coal River crested early Saturday at 23.11 feet near Tornado where flood stage is 25 feet. It had fallen to about 13 feet as of Sunday evening but was expected to rise again to about 19.5 feet by Tuesday morning.

"The new system is kind of totaling about an inch," Mazza said. "We don't expect any problems to be that bad. Just minor problems potentially, unless this next batch of rainfall turns out to be heavier than expected."

Mazza said Tuesday's snow and rain would be it until the weekend. Though temperatures will stay in the 30s the skies will be clear and mostly sunny Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

A chance of snow was forecast for Saturday and Sunday.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.craig@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4850.


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