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Gov. Justice declares State of Emergency for all 55 counties ahead of winter storm

Jan. 18—Gov. Jim Justice has declared a State of Emergency for all 55 West Virginia counties due to the approaching winter storm event forecast to hit the state tonight into Saturday.

The National Weather Service has predicted heavy snow, dangerous wind chills, and strong winds beginning Thursday night and continuing throughout the week and into the coming weekend.

"All West Virginians need to absolutely be ready for the potential impact this winter storm may bring to our state," Justice said. "West Virginians should pay extra close attention to emergency officials and media outlets, and be prepared if there are power outages. West Virginians take care of one another, so make sure you check on your neighbors and loved ones, too."

The State of Emergency allows state agencies to coordinate ahead of a possible weather event, including by pre-positioning personnel, vehicles, equipment, and other assets.

A winter storm warning is in effect for the region. The warning is calling for heavy snow expected. Total snow accumulations of 4 to 8 inches are possible, according to the warning, with winds gusting as high as 45 mph.

Road crews in both West Virginia and Virginia had main roads clear Thursday, but were still working on clearing secondary roads that were covered during the storm that arrived around Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Ryland Musick, engineer for District 10 of the West Virginia Department of Highways, said crews were still working on back roads while preparing for the new snow that has been forecasted. District 10 includes both Mercer and McDowell counties.

"We are continuing to treat secondary roads from this previous storm," Musick said. "The primary roads are in good shape."

District 10 crews still have a lot to do on their secondary roadways. All snowplow trucks have been out, Musick said.

Starting around October 2023, District 10 snowplow drivers took dry runs on their routes after those routes were established, he added. The trucks themselves and their salt and cinder spreading equipment were checked to make sure they were functioning properly and ready for service.

Across the state line, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) was getting ready for more winter weather.

Michelle Earl, media representative for the Bristol District of VDOT, said that the road crews responded to a "fairly significant" snow for the region this past weekend.

"From what we saw from our facilities out in the field, it was 2 to 8 inches depending on where you were," Earl recalled. "Our primary roadways are in good shape but the secondary roads are still being worked on. Those roads number 600 and above and while that is going on, we've also been working to order supplies so we're ready for a potential storm on Thursday night into Friday."

Warming stations have been open to help local people escape the bitter cold. The Bluefield Union Mission has helped people warm up as well as provide fuel and winter clothing to those in need.

The Bluewell United Methodist Church has been ready to provide shelter. Pastor Sheri Kerink said she can be reached at 304-231-4043.

The Salvation Army in Princeton has been using $7,500 provided by the Mercer County Commission to shelter people overnight in a local motel. Work is underway to establish a warming station staffed by volunteers at The Salvation Army facility on 300 Princeton Avenue.

Tazewell County has opened several warming stations. Anyone seeking refuge should contact Tazewell County 911 through the agency's non-urgent phone number at 276- 988-0645. Dispatchers asked that the number 911 be used only for emergencies.

The Tazewell County warming stations opened Tuesday morning and are scheduled to remain open until Sunday, Jan. 21.

These warming stations include:

—Abbs Valley Volunteer Fire Department at Tazewell County EMS Station 2, 1289 Boissevain Road, Bluefield, Va.

—Bishop Volunteer Fire Department at 219 Radio Street, Bishop, Va.

—Burke's Garden Volunteer Fire Department at 6164 Burke's Garden, Tazewell, Va.

—Clearfork Volunteer Fire Department at 7146 Clearfork Rad, Bastian, Va.

—Richlands Police Department at 1851 Cranwell Drive, Richlands, Va.

—Tannersville Volunteer Fire Department, 1138 Freestone Valley, Tannersville, Va.

—Tazewell County Volunteer Fire Department, Fuller Perry Building, Fairgrounds Road, Tazewell, Va.

—Thompson Valley Volunteer Fire Department, 8905 Thompson Valley, Tazewell, Va.

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com