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Winter storm warnings continue while forecasts offer warmer weather

Jan. 20—By GREG JORDAN

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — A winter storm kept snowplow drivers busy Friday keeping roads open during hazardous conditions in both West Virginia and Virginia, but the coming week's forecast was offering no snow and much warmer temperatures.

Winter storm warnings issued by the Blacksburg, Va. and Charleston offices of the National Weather Service were set to expire by 10 a.m. today. Predictions for today included a slight chance of snow before noon, but with a high temperature of only 14 degrees and a low of around 5 degrees tonight. Wind chills of 12 degrees below zero are possible. The forecast for Sunday had a high of 26 degrees and a low of 9 degrees.

Forecasts for next week show a warming trend that could bring temperatures close to 60 degrees; however, this trend will not kick in right away, according to a meteorologist with the weather service in Blacksburg, Va.

"We are expecting a pretty significant change in the weather pattern next week, said meteorologist Robert Beasley. "We're flipping back to more like what it was in December."

A ridge of high pressure in the eastern United States and a trough of pressure in the Western part of the country helped bring cold weather to the region. A massive and very deep low pressure system around the Great Lakes region allowed arctic air to dip south as far as the Gulf of Mexico, Beasley said.

Beasley warned that temperatures were staying cold this weekend and any thawing could start as late as Tuesday. Warmer weather could create flooding problems when snow starts melting while rain is falling.

"We will have some issues with flooding, especially river flooding," Beasley said. "That's something we'll be looking at as we go into next week."

Monday's weather will not bring immediate relief from the cold.

Monday morning will still be frigid, so ice and snow will not start melting right away. Beasley said he expected to see issues with area schools starting on time. Other schools may close Monday.

"Nothing's going to melt until Monday afternoon," he stated. "It may be Tuesday before it really melts good."

Warming stations are available to aid people needing shelter this weekend from the frigid temperatures and wind chills. A new warming station, the Matoaka Volunteer Fire Department, was scheduled to open 8 p.m. Friday and stay open until 8 a.m. today. People in the Matoaka area needing shelter Sunday and beyond can call 304-920-9990.

The Bluefield Union Mission has helped people warm up as well as providing 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 contacted 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.

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 are scheduled to remain open until Sunday, Jan. 21.

These warming stations include the following:

—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.

West Virginia Parkways Authority officials declared a Code Red on Thursday along the West Virginia Turnpike. It was scheduled to start at 4 a.m. on Friday. The Code Red will enhance their Snow Removal and Ice Control (SRIC) efforts during this latest round of winter weather, parkways officials said. The Courtesy Patrol and State Police Troop 7 are out 24 hours a day, seven days a week. People needing assistance can dial SP.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com