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Fall temperatures on the way, along with potentially heavy rainfall

The Free Press WV

It’s been an unusual fall so far, but not completely out of the ordinary according to the National Weather Service, but it’s all about to change.

September turned out to be the wettest on record and temperatures returned to summer-like during October according to Weather Service Meteorologist John Sikora.

“They are a little bit above normal and that’s actually causing the leaves not to turn as fast as they normally would,” he explained. “By this time, usually, you’ll see some color in the mountains–but with the warm temperatures we’ve been having it’s been delayed a little bit.”

However, as this week moves along, expect things to take a radical turn. A cold front is headed our way on Thursday which will bring rain to most of West Virginia. Tropical Storm Michael, which is currently gaining strength in the Gulf of Mexico, could also latch onto the front and significantly increase the amount of rain we receive. According to Sikora, it’s still unclear how the pattern will play out for West Virginia.

“We’re definitely going to have some rain on Thursday because of the cold front,” he explained. “Michael might latch on and bring a bunch of rain close to us, or it might push out to see on the Carolina Coast, right now it’s too early to tell.”

But Sikora said with the front puling in Thursday, fall-like weather will arrive.

“Temperatures behind this cold front will be quite a bit cooler,” he explained. “We’re definitely going to see more seasonable temperatures toward the weekend.”

~~  Chris Lawrence ~~

Flood warnings posted for several counties

The Free Press WV

Heavy rain over southwestern and central West Virginia Thursday evening prompted the National Weather to issue a flood warning for several counties stretching into late Thursday night.

The counties under the warning include Mingo, Kanawha, Lincoln, Wayne, Logan, Boone, Calhoun, Nicholas, Gilmer, Braxton, Roane and Clay.

National Weather Service meteorologists said by 5 p.m. between 1.5 and 2 inches of rain had already fallen over the area with another inch or more possible by 11 p.m.

Flash flood watch for many counties in effect into Wednesday

The Free Press WV

A flash flood watch is in effect through late Wednesday, as the National Weather Service monitors rain in northeast Kentucky, southeast Ohio and West Virginia.

The West Virginia counties of Braxton, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge, Gilmer, Harrison, Jackson, Kanawha, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Putnam, Ritchie, Roan, Wayne and Wirt are under a flash flood watch through Wednesday afternoon.

“Soils across the area are nearly saturated due to previous rainfall,” the National Weather Service said. “Additional showers and thunderstorms, some with heavy rain, are expected to affect the area through late Wednesday.”

Much of the rest of West Virginia is under a hazardous weather outlook.

Florence rain pushes into West Virginia

The Free Press WV

Rain from Florence, the storm system that was a Tropical Depression as of early Sunday afternoon, was starting to fall in parts of southern West Virginia at the close of the weekend ahead of what was expected to be a wet Monday statewide.

“We’ve had plenty of rain this summer,” Tim Farley, director of the Mercer County Office of Emergency Management, told MetroNews on Sunday when his county became the first in West Virginia to be put under a National Weather Service Flood Watch due to Florence.

“It’s been very unusual, a very wet summer and we’re having trouble getting into a dry season. The cycle has just been continually wet all summer,” Farley said.

The weakening Florence dumped more than a foot of rain on parts of North Carolina and South Carolina after coming ashore as a Category 1 hurricane early Friday driving major rivers there to record levels.

As of Sunday, at least 14 deaths in the southeast U.S. were being blamed on Florence, according to ABC News.

For West Virginia’s lowlands, the Florence forecast was one to two inches of rain with two to three inches of rain possible in eastern West Virginia by Tuesday, including in mountain counties like Pocahontas County and Randolph County.

“On the eastern slopes we like it to call it, that’s where the more significant rains will fall — say from Mercer, Summers, Greenbrier counties, that’s where the two to three, maybe localized four inch amounts, will occur,” said Nick Webb, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Charleston office.

Those areas could see Florence’s heaviest rain by Monday morning before what was left of the storm shifted to the north and east on a track that will take it out of West Virginia via the Eastern Panhandle.

Localized flash flooding was possible out of any heavy bands of rain that could train through the day Monday in both southern and northern West Virginia, forecasters said.

In addition to potential flash flooding in Mercer County, Farley said mudslides and tree falls may affect power due to Florence’s rain on already saturated ground.

“It’s a wait-and-see game,” he said on Sunday morning.

Isolated tornadoes were also a threat along with high wind gusts.

“We’re still going to have winds, 30 to maybe 40 mph, especially across the higher elevations,” said Webb.

“Normally, we wouldn’t expect that to cause too many issues but, when you have saturated soils, it won’t take much wind to cause some isolated issues as far as downed trees are concerned.”

As of early Sunday afternoon, Webb said no major West Virginia rivers were forecast to go into flood stages due to Florence.

However, he noted, “We’re still paying attention to a couple of basins — the New River Basin and the Greenbrier (River Basin) as well — for any potential issues.”

Florence threatens heavy rain for West Virginia

The Free Press WV

Emergency officials in West Virginia continue to await the impact of what was originally Hurricane Florence. The storm which came ashore as a Category 1 storm was downgraded Friday night to a Tropical Storm and by the time it reaches West Virginia it is expected to be classified as a Tropical Depression.

The storm continues to pack a serious rain punch which should reach every county in West Virginia in some way.

“We are looking at the possibility of flash flooding, mainly in the areas where we expect the higher rainfall amounts,” said Meteorologist Dave Marsalek of the Charleston office of the National Weather Service. “But we’re going to watch all of the creeks, streams, and rivers. I believe at the very least we can expect some pretty good rises on all of these.”

The forecast for West Virginia calls for about 2 to 4 inches of rainfall concentrated over the West Virginia mountains and mainly on the eastern slopes and into the Eastern Panhandle. However, the rest of the Mountain State can expect a fair amount as well.

“The forecast is holding true. We’re still looking at max potential of 2 to 4, that’s generally going to run from southern West Virginia and up into the mountains,” Marsalek explained. “That’s primarily going to be on those eastern slopes.”

The storm is moving faster now and shouldn’t linger for too long over West Virginia. Four straight days of fairly dry and sunny weather have also allowed for swollen waters from last weekend to recede.

“Anytime we can get a few days to allows those waters to get the flows and levels down that’s going to be a good thing when we’re getting set for a significant rain maker,” Marsalek explained.

The early arrival of Florence will be late Saturday night. Heavier rain will move into the state on Sunday morning and increase in intensity throughout the day as it travels north. Monday will see the heaviest rain and by Tuesday, Marsalek expected the system would be out of West Virginia.

The State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management along with the West Virginia National Guard remain in a state of preparedness as the storm nears.

Meteorologists Predict El Niño Event This Year

The Free Press WV

A storm’s a-brewin. According to the World Meteorological Organization, there’s a 70 percent chance of the potentially destructive weather event forming by year’s end.

An El Niño system is created by increased warming in the eastern Pacific Ocean, which can lead to drought in some regions but heavy rain in others.

This year is likely to be one of the warmest on record, the organization noted, although it predicts a 2018 El Niño — while having “considerable impacts” — won’t be as powerful as those observed in 2015 and 2016.


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