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.

Learn More:      Al Jazeera

West Virginia remains in possible Florence path

The Free Press WV

As the effects of Hurricane Florence started showing themselves Thursday along the coasts of North Carolina and South Carolina, storm response preparations continued in West Virginia ahead of what could be a lot of rain into next week.

“The latest tracks show that it looks like it’s going to come over a good part of West Virginia, but the track is pretty wide so the storm could go anywhere from Cincinnati to Washington, D.C., ” said Jimmy Gianato, director of the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security.

The National Weather Service provided this update on Thursday:

“The potential continues to exist for significant rainfall to return to our region early next week.  However, the path of Florence and, hence, where the heaviest rains may occur still remains uncertain.”

The West Virginia Emergency Operations Center, bringing together government representatives, non-profits and other organizations for storm response in cooperation with the West Virginia National Guard’s Joint Operations Center, remained activated Thursday.

Florence marked the first time for such on-site coordination in one facility, according to state officials.

“It’s a good thing,” Gianato said. “It allows for better coordination, quicker coordination and allows our response to be better coordinated between all the agencies.”

Daily 2 p.m. briefings on Hurricane Florence were being organized there involving the National Weather Service and local county emergency managers.

Appalachian Power officials were preparing for heavy rain and high wind gusts out of Florence throughout its service areas, especially in southwestern Virginia.

Gusts of 40 to 45 miles per hour were possible, company officials indicated, along with 2 to 4 in. or more of rain depending on location.

Plans were in place to move employees and contractors into areas likely to experience damage and outages from the hurricane with workers available out of Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.

“Historically, we’ve reliably helped other utilities when they need help and we want to be in a position to do that with this storm, but we want to make sure that our own service territory is taken care of first,” said Phil Moye, spokesperson for Appalachian Power.

He told MetroNews they were particularly concerned about possible rainfall totals for southwestern Virginia.

On Thursday morning, Florence was a Category 2 hurricane with sustained wind speeds of 110 mph. It was moving slower as it neared the coasts of North Carolina and South Carolina.

Landfall was projected for Friday.

As of Thursday morning, projections indicated a possible inland track for Florence and acceleration into the southern Appalachians overnight Sunday into Monday, according to meteorologists with the Charleston National Weather Service office.

Much like the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon that dumped rain on the Mountain State earlier in September, Florence was expected to be a rainmaker — putting down a projected average of two to four inches of rain with higher amounts in local locations.

By early Tuesday, forecasts showed the storm and its rain could potentially be in the Mid-Ohio Valley and Upper Ohio Valley Region, roughly the U.S. Route 50 Corridor with the largest rain totals expected in the highest elevations.

“Our biggest concern would be for the storm to come up and dump a lot of water in either the Southern Coalfields or the Ohio Valley which is already at or near flood stages in a lot of areas,” Gianato said.

Next Wednesday or Thursday, what’s left of Florence may be moving to the north of the Mountain State.

The American Red Cross West Virginia Region had no emergency shelters open in the Mountain State as of the morning on Sept. 13.

To help with the Hurricane Florence response, training for volunteers was being planned through the weekend at the regional office in Kanawha County covering topics that included disaster assessment.

As for power, “We have been looking at this storm, like most people, a good part of this week and we’ve been making pretty strong efforts to plan for it,” Moye said.

“Whatever rain and wind we might get in our service territory, we do have people in place that are ready to move in, respond and get those outages taken care of quickly.”

~~  Shauna Johnson ~~

Hurricane Florence Preparations

The Free Press WV

Governor Jim Justice has directed the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (WVDHSEM) and the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) to prepare for potential emergency situations in West Virginia due to the anticipated impacts of Hurricane Florence. The West Virginia National Guard will provide initial logistics support for FEMA efforts as the hurricane makes landfall.

Both WVDHSEM and the WVNG are monitoring weather reports and river gauges for potential impacts this week while working closely with other agencies at both the state and federal levels for planning, preparedness, and response purposes.

“All West Virginians need to prepare immediately for the potential impact Hurricane Florence may bring to the Mountain State,“ said Governor Jim Justice. “West Virginians should continue to monitor local weather forecasts, reports and information distributed by local emergency officials, news, and radio stations. And please, do not endanger yourselves, your loved ones or our first responders by trying to drive through flood waters!”

Currently, the WVNG is readying plans, personnel and equipment for possible deployment should conditions warrant. The West Virginia National Guard Swift Water Rescue Team, liaison officers for county emergency operations centers, flood response teams and other assets are being prepared in the event deployment is requested either in West Virginia or in surrounding states via Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) agreements.

Florence is expected to make landfall in the Carolinas late this week as a major hurricane. Areas of West Virginia including the Eastern Panhandle, Potomac Highlands, Mountain Lakes, and New River/Greenbrier Valley regions of the state may see significant rainfall from this system.

Weather advisories issued through Monday night

The Free Press WV

Northern parts of the state are under a flood warning while western counties into the Northern Panhandle and the Eastern Panhandle are under a flood watch through Monday evening.

According to the National Weather Service, remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon is the source of rain through Monday. Some streams and mainstem rivers are likely to flood as early as Monday morning.

The rest of the state is under a hazardous weather outlook.

Forecasters predict a wet weekend in West Virginia

The Free Press WV

The National Weather Service has posted a hazardous weather outlook for the entire state of West Virginia for this weekend. However, Meteorologist Andy Roche at the Charleston Weather Bureau advises the most imminent threat appears to be to the Ohio Valley and across northern West Virginia.

“We have a complicated weather situation,” said Roche. “Mostly for the Ohio Valley and parts of northern West Virginia through the weekend.”

The weather is setting up a collision course between the remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon which came ashore earlier this week in Mississippi and a separate warm front pushing into West Virginia from the northwest.

“They are separate systems, but they are going to join together by Saturday,” said Roche. “They’ll interact together and cause a lot of problems.”

The problems could mean extremely heavy rainfall in isolated areas. The deluge, with possible training storms and slow moving systems, is expected to be enough to push streams out of their banks quickly.

“It’s expected most of the tributaries of the Ohio River will run high by Monday,” said Roche.

The rain could start developing Friday night, but is expected to become most active Saturday, Sunday, and stretch into Monday in some locations.

Flood threat continues through Friday

The Free Press WV

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for most of West Virginia through Friday as a slow-moving system with lots of moisture threatens areas prone to flooding.

“We have very wet soils already and we have a lot more moisture that continues to pump into the region,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Ross Giarratana said Wednesday. “It’s a pretty stagnant weather pattern. We have a lot of moisture pumping in ahead of this upper level weather system and as a result we are seeing numerous rounds of showers and storms.”

An area including the Interstate 79 corridor and parts of Randolph and Pocahontas counties appear to face the biggest threat of high water but Giarratana said residents in other areas also need to be alert.

“Most locations should at least see moderate to at times heavy periods of rainfall and this will be persistent through the end of the week,” Giarratana said.

High water could occur on streams, creeks, rivers, low-lying and poor drainage areas.

Giarratana said it appears the system will begin to break-up by the weekend.

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