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Valley weather a mystery ride

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha Valley residents awoke to temperatures in the balmy low 70s Wednesday, experienced high winds, rain and a tornado watch by midday and then saw those conditions turn to a flash flood watch and dramatic drop in the mercury.

The flood watch was in effect from 1 p.m. Wednesday to 1 a.m. today, said Tim Axford, National Weather Service meteorologist.

A cold front from the west caused temperatures to drop significantly through the night, he said.

"Folks waking up (today) are going to see a real change in the temperature," Axford said.

Today's high should reach about 33 degrees, and the low will hover around 16 degrees tonight."We're pretty much taking (Wednesday's) high and cutting it in half," Axford said.

Some snow showers could occur today, but there should be no accumulation, he said.

"People might see some light accumulation on grassy surfaces," he said.

The cold front pushed the high winds out of the area by midday Wednesday, Axford said. The storm system that cut off dozens of secondary roads with high water has knocked out electricity to nearly 7,200 customers across West Virginia, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

Appalachian Power reported Thursday afternoon that 6,756 customers were without power, nearly one-third of them in Raleigh County. More than 800 others were in Logan and Mercer counties.

FirstEnergy, meanwhile, said it had cut the number of outages down to about 430 by late afternoon.

Flood warnings were issued for the Cheat River in Preston County, the South Branch of the Potomac River in Hampshire County, and the Greenbrier River in Greenbrier, Monroe and Summers counties.

But only minor flooding has been reported.

Temperatures are expected to reach only about 23 degrees on Friday with a low of 17 degrees Friday night. Snow showers are also expected throughout Friday and Saturday.

Saturday's high should be about 33 degrees with a low of 26 degrees.

The tornado warning issued for Kanawha and surrounding counties was lifted a little after 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The flash flood warning Wednesday and Thursday morning came as a result of steady rain.

The ground was saturated and rivers were already running high from snowmelt, Axford said.

High winds and an expectation of heavy rain kept first responders on the alert Wednesday, said Dale Petry, director of Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

However, the wind was not as bad as some had anticipated, he said.

"We didn't get a whole lot of damage, and we'll take that," Petry said.

During the storm Wednesday, wind gusts of around 53 mph were reported at Yeager Airport as the front moved through the Kanawha Valley, said Nick Webb, National Weather Service meteorologist.

A weather device set up in Sissonville recorded wind gusts of 52 mph. Gusts of 46 mph were reported at Tri-State Airport outside Huntington, Webb said.

The North Central West Virginia Airport in Harrison County reported 50 mph gusts, he said.

Some accidents were reported to Kanawha Metro 911, he said.

Petry didn't know of any major power outages in the region.

Petry and other emergency personnel had contacted counties and states to the west to ask how the storm had affected those areas.

"They told us there were high winds, some rain and that it was all over in five to 10 minutes," he said.

Rain did cause some problems at the Court Street underpass Wednesday.

A pump used to remove water from the Court Street underpass near Smith Street and Piedmont Avenue malfunctioned. Traffic had to be rerouted around the pooling water.

It took city employees about two hours to repair the pump. Traffic was allowed through once the repairs had been made and the water was drained.

Contact writer Paul Fallon at paul.fallon@dailymail.com or 304348-4817. Follow him at www. twitter.com/PaulBFallon.


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