ELKINS - Weather conditions - including a heaping helping of snow -could make roads hazardous for travelers heading to Thanksgiving dinners.
The National Weather Service in Charleston is calling for a 100 percent chance of snow for Wednesday through the day, and an 80 percent chance of snow in the night hours.
Elkins could be seeing an accumulation of four to six inches, with six to 10 inches possible in higher elevations such as Snowshoe, officials said. Cheat Mountain could see as much as a foot of snow by Thursday.
"We urge people to take extra time to travel for Thanksgiving," said Tim Axford, a staff meterologist for the NWS. "We advise people to travel on Thursday, if they can, rather than on Wednesday. Wednesday is the worst day for travel in these conditions."
Jim Wise, director of the Randolph County Office of Emergency Management, said that due to the potentially hazardous conditions travellers should be cautious during the coming days.
"My advice would be to avoid travel on Wednesday," he said. "But if you have to, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. Leave early if possible but make sure you take your time and be careful."
Wise said it is important when travelling in cold conditions to have emergency supplies such as a blanket and some source of light, such as a flashlight, to be prepared for any situation.
With the wet conditions and colder temperatures leading up to the snow, Wise said Randolph County officials are taking early precautions to make road conditions as manageable as possible.
"The roads have been treated and, depending on how strong the wind will be, everything should be fine," said Wise.
Wise said that though widespread power outages are not expected, local fire departments are providing temporary heating shelters in preparation for any potential incidents.
The NWS forecasts calls for the snow to start tapering off by the weekend, with light, lingering flurries throughout Thursday. Thanksgiving Day should be cold, with temperatures falling to a frigid high of 26 degrees and a low of only 7 degrees.
On Friday, people in the area will likely wake up to a fresh coat of snow, but then the skies will begin to clear, according to the NWS. Higher elevations could likely see single digit temperatures.
Wise said that in instances of potentially hazardous weather, it's best to be cautious, remain calm and use common sense, whether traveling to spend time with family and friends or going Black Friday shopping.
"People take special precautions, not only because of the weather, but also because it's a holiday," Wise said.
"It's also important to be mindful of your neighbors, especially the elderly, as the colder conditions
Elkins Mayor Van Broughton said that, in nasty weather, safety is always the number one concern.
"I hope everyone will keep safety in mind and try to stay off the roads as much as possible throughout the duration of the storm," he said. "Black Friday shoppers need to drive carefully, dress warmly and not travel alone."
Contact Chad Clem by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.