Winter storm looms for weekend

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – January started with a high in the 60s amid a flooding rainstorm. So forgive me if there’s a sense of deja vu as I watch the evolving weather picture with some trepidation, given the high reached 60 in Huntington (59 Charleston) on Tuesday February 1st.

With Sleeping Marmot Lodges from Punxsutawney to French Creek sure to be busy on Wednesday, Bill Murray may have put it best; namely, “Want a prediction on the weather?”

This prediction starts with a few harmless rain showers and temperatures in the 50s on Wednesday.

By Thursday, torrential rains will have flood powers, so expect storm culverts to recede and small streams to rise. At the end of the day, cold arctic air will soon infiltrate from the north to intercept our rain pattern throughout the day. Mild rain to start (common 50 degree air at dawn) will turn into cool afternoon rain for many with the first reports of freezing rain and sleet appearing in the Ohio interior mid afternoon.

As night falls, Thursday’s odds favor a full ice storm in Buckeye State with areas from Portsmouth to Jackson and McArthur, and Athens to Pomeroy to Mercerville. If it gets cold enough fast enough, this ice hazard will cross the Ohio River from Proctorville and Sybene to Huntington and Ashland. Likewise, our friends in northern Kentucky, from Greenup and Vanceburg to Carter Caves and Laurel Gorge, are expecting freezing conditions.

The more pressing question will be whether the ice falls directly from the sky (the sleet that can be plowed and shoveled) or whether the rain falls to the ground and freezes on contact. This latest form of ice can cripple communities while knocking out electricity. We should have the best answer for whether it is freezing rain or ice pellets and where the freezing rain will fall the longest by midday Wednesday.

So heed the National Weather Service’s Winter Storm Watch and prepare for warning status upgrades and any alert extensions on Wednesday!

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