ELKINS - A massive winter storm exceeded initial reports by dumping more than a foot of snow across much of the region by Thursday afternoon.
The National Weather Service in Charleston reported 10 inches of snow in Elkins at dawn on Thursday, with lower accumulations to the west. An NWS winter storm watch was extended to remain in effect until 7 p.m.
"We are still in the midst of the storm," Ken Batty, a staff meteorologist for the NWS, said Thursday. "Basically, it looks like, as of early this morning (Thursday), we had about 10-12 inches in Pocahontas and Randolph counties."
Snowshoe Mountain in Pocahontas saw 14 to 18 inches of total new snow, he said.
Another storm system is scheduled to come through the area tonight that could bring little to no new snow accumulation.
"We have another weak system coming through the area Friday night that could bring light accumulation into Saturday morning," Batty added.
Thursday's heavy snow totals kept officials busy, however.
Jim Wise, director of the Randolph County Office of Emergency Management, said there were no major power outages in the area, and that no shelters or warming stations had to be utilized.
"We were fortunate that the temperatures stayed lower," Wise said. "We are doing well, we haven't had any emergency calls."
Mike Moran, district 8 engineer for the state Division of Highways, said there had been no road closures and that roads were being treated.
"We don't have any road closures at this current time. Our crews are out plowing and treating, primarily the main roads, and in a few areas we have gotten some of the secondary roads," Moran said Thursday morning. "We advise people to use caution and drive slow."
Davis & Elkins College spokesperson Linda Howell Skidmore said all classes were canceled on Thursday due to the weather. In addition, all public schools in Barbour, Grant, Hardy, Lewis, Pendleton, Pocahontas, Randolph, Tucker and Upshur counties were closed Thursday.
Upshur County Office of Emergency Management Director Jim Farry said the county received more snow than was anticipated.
"As of 6 a.m., there were reports of anywhere from 8 inches in the lowlands to about 13 inches in some higher elevations like in Mt. Nebo," Farry said at about 10 a.m. Thursday. "It's been snowing for about four hours since then, so I would say we're in the average of about 10 inches at this point - which is quite a bit more than we anticipated from the national forecast. We know there were some issues with this storm in being able to determine accurately where it was going to go."
"The snow is moderate as far as the snowfall rate," Farry said. "They (the Division of Highways) are just going to have a hard time keeping the roads clear until this starts to slow down. If people don't need to travel, we would recommend they don't."
Farry said there have been no more weather-related accidents than what is typical during other winter storms.
"There have been some accidents here and there," Farry said. "Not any more than normal for this type of weather. We just continue to urge people if you don't have to travel, don't travel. Right now the DOH is having a hard time keeping up with this."
Farry said that only 47 customers, isolated throughout the county, had experienced power outages. He also said power for those customers was expected to return by late-morning to early- afternoon.
The Upshur OEM is monitoring the snow and rivers to see if flooding could become a threat in the aftermath of this storm. As of now, he does not believe that flooding will be a problem. He said he doesn't see any rain in the long-term forecast.
"We always have that concern," Farry said. "Right now, our streams and rivers had a chance to recede significantly. If we don't get any rainfall or real fast melt, we don't anticipate a problem, but we'll keep an eye on it and watch it very closely."
Barbour County OEM Director Cindy Hart said the county received almost double the amount of snow that was predicted.
"They told us that we were going to get 7 inches," Hart said about the National Weather Service. "We got 13."
Side roads throughout the county were still left untreated at noon, and road conditions there and even on the main roads by that time were still hazardous, she said Thursday. The main roads had not all been treated.
"The main roads, once treated, will be OK to drive on," Hart said. "Right now, they're not going to be able to get to the side roads because the main roads are covered."
She said there had not been any major accidents so far.
"Everything has been nice and peaceful," Hart said.
Although shelters have not been set up, county shelter providers are on stand-by in case it becomes necessary to open them, she said.
Hart said there had been no reports of power outages in the county. She also said officials did not anticipate any concern with flooding in the aftermath of the storm when the snow starts to melt away. She said the river levels had gone down substantially since the last big snow storm.
"We had - the last time - big ice chunks in the river," Hart said. "I think as cool as it's going to be, it's going to melt slowly. I think by then, the bulk of it - or the problem area - should be gone, but again we're going to watch it 24/7 just to make sure."
Philippi Fire Chief Dave Utt said there had been no weather-related accidents in Barbour County since the snow started falling on Wednesday.
"If you don't have to go out, try to stay off the roads," Utt said. "If you do, drive carefully. All the roads are snow-covered and they are hazardous."
Volunteer firefighter David Tusing with the Junior Volunteer Fire Department said some firefighters measured 14 inches of snow near the fire hall. He said the department responded to a couple accidents Wednesday night, but that "it wasn't anything major."
Belington Fire Chief Phil Hart said he did not believe there were any weather-related wrecks in the town as of Thursday morning, but that officials were staying alert.
"I think (we have) probably 15 or 16 inches at least. It's still snowing," Hart said.
Contact Melissa Toothman by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.