Snow blankets area

ELKINS – A festive blanket of white covered the region Tuesday, and the small amount of snowfall was more like a decorative holiday prop than the massive storm some feared was slated to pelt portions of The Mountain State.

Accumulation ranged from 1-2 inches statewide, with a potential of up to 4 inches in higher elevations, said Andrew Beavers, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston. As of Tuesday afternoon, accumulations in Elkins and the surrounding areas fell within that range, Beavers said.

Low temperatures were a factor overnight, and wind gusts soared to 29 miles per hour around midnight, Beavers, said. The storm itself, though, was quite mild, he reported.

“It’s early in the year, and what did fall melted with the warm ground,” Beavers said.

When asked why some social media was abuzz with reports of harsh storms and accumulations that could have reached more than 2 feet, Beavers said such rumors could start from one source.

“Sometimes it can spread like wildfire. One person says it, and it takes off,” he said.

For an area where emergency personnel have been pulled to deal with literal wildfires and a string of structure fires, Tuesday’s precipitation was welcome. Elkins Fire Department Chief Tom Meader said precipitation such as this might help with brush fires locally – though the city and immediate vicinity haven’t been hard hit during the fall brush fire season, which began Oct. 1 and runs through Dec. 31.

However, he didn’t know how much relief those battling the blaze near Smoke Hole in Franklin would receive from today’s weather.

“Once you get up over the mountain and head that direction, you don’t know what you may get. The weather can be 20 degrees warmer and no snow compared to what we get here (in Elkins),” he said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 700 acres had been lost in the wide-sweeping brush fire in Pendleton County. A representative with the U.S. Forest Service, Sara Hankens, said the fire still was spreading despite a massive, collaborative effort between state and federal agencies.