BUCKHANNON – Old man winter will be working overtime for the next few days, as temperatures in the Buckhannon area dip into the teens and single digits through Tuesday.
Tony Edwards, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston said a rain and snow mix moved into the area Thursday evening. However, the more significant weather system is expected to manifest itself over the weekend.
“It will start out with a wintry mix on Saturday morning and change over to rain,” Edwards said. “We could get a pretty good dose of rain on Saturday – with maybe an inch or inch-and-a-half of rain throughout the day.”
Edwards said there could be some “nuisance flooding” on Saturday but added it would likely be limited to small creeks and streams.
“There will be a big switch to much colder weather right behind this,” Edwards said. “There will be a cold front moving through Saturday night. On Sunday, temperatures are going to drop, and by Monday morning, temperatures will be in the single digits.”
He said on the back edge of the cold temperatures there could be some snow.
“Probably not a lot of snow but definitely a big shift to much colder weather on Sunday and Monday. It will be windy, especially Saturday night, which will send the wind chills down,” Edwards said. “Temperatures should be a high of 31 degrees on Sunday, with temperatures falling all day. The low Sunday night should be 6 degrees – with a wind chill on Monday morning of minus 7 degrees. The high on Monday should be a high of 18 degrees.”
News about a polar vortex split is all over social media, and Edwards said he feels the split in the polar vortex is nothing new.
“The polar vortex got blown up a few years ago,” Edwards said. “That happens every so often – a couple times a winter – you will get a piece that splits and comes down, but it is basically an arctic cold front we get through here. It is not anything extraordinary – it is one of these things that happens. For some reason, a couple years ago, the term ‘polar vortex’ caught fire.”
Edwards said the low temperatures won’t hang around long, adding Tuesday should show a high temperature of 42 degrees.
“This should be a short cold spell, and there should be warmer weather by the middle of next week,” he said.
According to the National Weather Service website, a polar vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding both Earth’s poles. It always exists near the poles but weakens in the summer and strengthens in the winter.
The term “vortex” refers to the counter-clockwise flow of air that helps keep the colder air near the Poles.
During the winter in the northern hemisphere, the polar vortex will expand, sending cold air southward with the jet stream, and this pattern happens many times during the season. In fact, it occurs fairly regularly during the wintertime and is often associated with large outbreaks of Arctic air in the United States.
Polar vortexes are not new, and there is no cause for alarm; however, the term indicates colder temperatures are on the way.
Director at Upshur County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Brian Shreves said it is best to be prepared and listen for weather updates. He said people need to listen to the forecast to find out if the area is going to be drenched with rain or pelted with snow.
“Depending on what kind of weather we get can determine what kind of emergency we could have,” Shreves said. “If we get the rain we are supposed to get with this storm, we could be looking at a flooding incident. If we get all the snow, it will just be a winter storm.”
Regardless, Shreves said residents need to be prepared.
“If we get severe weather, folks should be able to stay in their homes for a few days,” he said. “They need to make sure they have the essentials for a couple of days including food, medicine and water, to be able to sustain themselves.”
He said as emergency manager, he constantly is watching the weather.
“I get updates daily and as the event gets closer, I will probably receive updates two or three times a day,” Shreves added. “I just talked to the Upshur County Commission to assure them I would be monitoring this storm all weekend. That way if anything happens, we can mobilize and activate accordingly.”
Shreves said if there is a prolonged electrical outage in the county, his office will open emergency shelters for individuals who need accommodations.
“We have several shelters across the county,” he explained. “I work very closely with the American Red Cross, and they have certified shelters. If needed, we can have a shelter opened up within about an hour of notification.”
During a storm, there are people who must be out on the roads.
Shreves said folks who must travel during storms should be prepared – leave a little earlier to allow for time to drive cautiously and always keep water, food, heavy coats and extra blankets in vehicles in case you become stranded.
“If it floods, please do not drive through flood water,” Shreves said. “Turn around – don’t drown! During the last flood incident we had, there were eight to 10 water rescues we had to perform because people were driving through water. All that does is put their lives at risk as well as puts our first responders’ lives at undue risk.
“Be prepared. Preparedness saves lives. Being prepared will save lives. Monitor the news and the alerts we send out to you and we will do the rest,” Shreves said.
To sign up to receive Upshur County emergency alerts on your cell phone, text UpshurCoWVAlerts to 69310 or visit http://entry.inspironlogistics.com/upshur_wv/wens.cfm.