ELKINS - Extremely cold wind chill values and snow will continue to pummel the area over the weekend and into next week, officials said.
The National Weather Service in Charleston is reporting that while daytime highs will become more moderate, overnight lows and wind chills will remain frigid.
"Temperatures should be moderate this weekend but pretty cold lows in the single digits and teens will remain overnight," said Liz Somerville of the NWS. "Wind chills are going to be the big problem, dropping into the negatives."
Temperatures today will be in the teens with wind chill factors remaining in the negative teens. Tonight temperatures are expected to fall to 11 degrees with 14 mph winds.
Snow is predicted to begin around 7 p.m. today and continue until 7 p.m. Saturday, dumping 3 to 6 inches of snow on the area, with the highest accumulations expected in the higher elevations.
Public schools are closed today in the following counties: Randolph, Barbour, Tucker, Upshur, Pocahontas, Pendleton, Grant, Hardy and Lewis.
On Saturday and Sunday, daytime highs should be much more moderate, reaching up to 27 degrees, with wind chills staying on the positive side of zero on Saturday. Higher wind, including gusts up to 39 mph, will be prevalent. Saturday night the low is expected to fall to 6 degrees, with wind chill values in the negative single digits.
Conditions should quickly warm back up on Sunday, with the temperature climbing above freezing during the afternoon hours. This won't last long, however, as light snow and falling temperatures are expected to return in the evening hours as another cold front moves into the area, bringing more bitter cold temperatures for early next week.
Sommerville recommends taking precautions to guard yourself, loved ones, pets and possessions from the extreme cold. Residents should allow their vehicles to warm up to avoid frostbite caused by extremely cold temperatures, as well as avoiding mechanical issues, she said.
Let faucets run on a slow drip to avoid water lines from freezing up or bursting, she advised.
Residents should dress in warm, loose layers of clothing, and not leave space heaters unattended, especially around pets and children, she said.
Cold temperatures, wind and precipitation can take its toll on pets and livestock. Some of the threats to outdoor animals in cold weather include frostbite, hypothermia and even antifreeze poisoning. If you can't bring your animals inside, make sure that they have somewhere to get out of the elements, she said.
Antifreeze is widely used during cold conditions. It is very sweet-tasting and attractive to cats and dogs, as well as children. Antifreeze is very toxic and can cause kidney failure, so people are urged to use extreme caution to avoid spills when using it.
If you must travel, be mindful of roadway conditions and allow yourself extra time to reach your destinations along with bringing food, water and a blanket with you in the car in the event of an emergency that forces you to lose the warmth of your vehicle.