Sledding through the winter blast

ELKINS – Mother Nature is once again delivering a one-two punch to the area. Officials with the National Weather Service in Charleston said Friday a low pressure system will pass through our area, bringing more strong winds and a return of frigid temperatures.

On Sunday, an arctic front is expected to blast through the region, with the possibility of two to five more inches of snow accumulating, according to the NWS.

Meteorologist Andy Roche said a winter weather advisory is in effect through tonight. He said temperatures should be in the low 20s today, and will drop below zero tonight and remain below 32 degrees Sunday.

Roche said winds will be gusty, especially today, with wind speeds reaching 45 mph in the peaks and 30 in the lowlands. He said winds will make for dangerous wind chills, falling down to minus 27 tonight.

Temperatures below zero and high winds make working outside dangerous, but some jobs necessitate folks working in these conditions. On Thursday night, Elkins Water Distribution Supervisor Gary Tingler and his department repaired a broken water line in bone-chilling weather.

“We were called to repair a broken water line on Harrison Avenue near Fox’s Pizza Den,” Tingler said. “We completed the job at about 4:30 a.m.”

Wind chills Thursday night were about minus 10 degrees.

Tingler said his crew is outfitted with boots, coverall bibs and waterproof gloves, and dress in layers.

“The problem is the water from the broken line sprays you in the face and all over your body,” he said. “The water freezes right now when it hits you. When you bend your arms, the ice crinkles and breaks and it feels like you have a cast on your arm. But we diligently keep going until the job is completed.”

Even with the warmest clothing, Tingler said it still felt extremely cold.

“Our feet didn’t get wet, but the cold comes right through the boots,” Tingler said. “I could not feel my fingers and my feet felt numb despite having insulated boots.”

Tingler said the break was fixed by disassembling the four-inch line and replacing the nuts and bolts.

“The hard part, besides the weather, was working on the line while it was still under pressure,” Tingler said. “Fortunately, the line only lost about 50,000 or 60,000 gallons of water.”

School students are also feeling the effects of the area blast of cold weather. Randolph County Superintendent Terry George said he is hoping the onslaught of winter weather is over, but he is not optimistic. Friday was the seventh day of missed classes for Randolph County students. He added that Friday’s school closure is the last day that can be made up for this school year.

“We have out-of-the-school-environment days built in at the end of the school calendar,” George said Friday. “As of today, we can make up the days that our students have been out of school; however, if we miss any more days, they cannot be recouped.”

George said the call to close schools in Randolph County has been made because of low temperatures and frigid wind chill factors.

“Every day, the (state) Department of Highways treats the secondary roads, and every night, the snow drifts back over the roads, making travel dangerous,” George said. “The roads have been treated but are still very slick. We do not feel safe bringing the students out on the roads.”

Sledding through the winter blast