Massive Snow Storm Closes Much of the State
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is asking West Virginia residents to stay home and off the roads because of a winter storm.
Tomblin said Thursday that residents shouldn't travel unless it's an emergency or they have to travel.
Only state employees who provide essential services were told to report to work Thursday.
In Berkeley County, Council President Doug Copenhaver declared a state of emergency for the county. A news release said the declaration allows the county to request and receive additional resources from the state.
The release said roads are extremely treacherous and the state highway department is having trouble keeping up with clearing roadways and with more snow expected throughout the day emergency services will be stretched.
Berkeley County Emergency Services Director Steve Allen said in a text message that the county is expecting to get help from liaison and community assistance teams from the W.Va. National Guard. He said these teams will help emergency service personnel when they're called to hard to reach places.
Winter storm warnings remain in effect across the state through Thursday afternoon and a warning is in effect for the Eastern Panhandle until Friday morning.
The National Weather Service says up to 15 inches of snow could fall along higher elevations and a foot is possible in the Eastern Panhandle. Up to 10 inches are forecast elsewhere in the warning area.
School systems in most of the state's 55 counties were closed Thursday and some counties have already canceled school on Friday, including Morgan, Jefferson and Berkeley.
Some college students are also getting a break from classes because of a winter storm.
West Virginia State, Concord and Shepherd universities closed their campuses Thursday. Bluefield State and Glenville State colleges shut down. Marshall University's Beckley center also closed.
The University of Charleston canceled classes at its main campus in Charleston and at its Beckley campus.
In the Eastern Panhandle, Shepherd University and Blue Ridge Community Technical College were closed, along with Jefferson County government offices, Martinsburg city hall as well as courts in many counties across the state.
Poor Driving Conditions
The storm is making travel treacherous across West Virginia.
The West Virginia Department of Transportation reports on its website that snow and ice are making driving conditions fair to difficult on major highways in southern, western and north-central West Virginia and in the Eastern Panhandle.
The DOT is advising motorists to slow down and use caution.
— WVDOT (@WVDOT) February 13, 2014
Good News for Skiers
The timing of the latest winter storm couldn't be better for West Virginia's ski resorts.
West Virginia Ski Areas Association spokesman Joe Stevens says the upcoming Presidents Day holiday is one of the season's biggest weekends.
Most of the heaviest snow is expected to fall Thursday. Stevens says that gives snow plows an opportunity to clear roads before skiers head to the mountains for the weekend.