High winds to blow in cold weather

Randolph County residents and the rest of central West Virginia will likely have to hold onto their hats today – the National Weather Service has predicted that wind gusts could be as strong as 50 mph.

Tom Mazza, a meteorologist with the NWS in Charleston, said wind gusts “are going to be an ongoing issue during the day” today.

“Right now, we’re calling for wind gusts to be about 30 mph in the valleys, and 45 to 50 mph along the ridgetops,” Mazza said. “Though there’s always a big difference between what you get on the ridgetops and what you get in the valleys, that’s going to be particularly true (today).”

Mazza said that winds will increase in the late afternoon to 40-45 mph “even in the valleys” and usher in thunderstorms ahead of a cold front. Although temperatures will hover in the 60s through the first part of the day today, they’ll drop into the 50s before sunset before descending rapidly, Mazza said.

Whether it falls in the form of rain or snow this afternoon and tonight, precipitation is virtually a sure thing, Mazza said.

“I’d say there’s pretty close to a 100 percent chance (of rain and/or snow),” Mazza said.

In fact, the NWS in Charleston issued a flash flood watch Tuesday afternoon for Randolph, Barbour, Upshur and Lewis counties that will go into effect Wednesday afternoon and remain in place through Wednesday evening. An inch to 1.5 inches are expected to fall within a six-hour period.

Thunder is expected to subside around 9 p.m..

“Right on the heels of that, we’ll have snow mixing in across the higher terrain as early as midnight, and in the morning hours (of Thursday) the rain will be changing to snow quickly across the lower terrain also,” the meteorologist said.

While an inch or more of rain could fall today, Mazza said that overnight, he anticipates only a sprinkling of snow in lower elevations and no more than 1 to 2 inches of snow accumulation along ridgetops.

Thursday’s NWS forecast calls for a 50 percent chance of snow and a high of 28 degrees.

So, what’s in store for the weekend?

“It’s going to be chilly,” Mazza said. “There’s a potential for waves of low pressure to move through early Friday morning, and there will probably be a quick little hit of snow, but no longer than a six-hour system.”

Another weather system will rumble through the area Saturday night, bringing with it “another quick hit” of snow expected to amount to 2 inches or less, Mazza said.

Contact Katie Kuba by email at kkuba@theintermountain.com.