Officials are hoping the winter storm that began by causing multiple power outages Thursday afternoon will pass through the region by this evening without causing much more damage.
"It's a powdery snow, not a wet, heavy snow," Randolph County Office of Emergency Services Director Jim Wise said of the snow falling Friday. "The wind and the temperature itself will be more of a problem. We may see sporadic power outages, but not major outages like during Superstorm Sandy."
Wise said local residents are understandably worried about weather events following Sandy in October and the derecho in June.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Anna Patrick
State Department of Highways employee Bob Broschart works to turn a stoplight in the correct direction Friday morning at the intersection of Railroad and Harrison avenues in Elkins. The stop light, which normally faces Rt. 219 North, was blown by strong wind gusts in the wrong direction toward Railroad Avenue Thursday evening.
"Everyone's a little gunshy right now, but we can't let a little snow worry us to the point that we can't function," Wise said.
Most of the First Energy electricity customers in our area whose power went out Thursday had been restored by Friday afternoon, said Greg Hefner, manager of External Affairs.
"We've made a lot of progress," Hefner said. "We've got crews working around the clock. We worked through the night."
As of 2:15 p.m. Friday, 53 customers in Barbour County were still without power, along with 25 customers in Randolph County and 47 customers in Tucker. No customers were without power in Upshur County, Hefner said.
"The wind remains our largest threat." Hefner said, adding that the expected snowfall is less threatening because the snow is light and fluffy. "I don't anticipate the snowfall will have a major impact."
Hefner encourages any customer without power to contact 1-888-LIGHTSS as soon as possible.
A winter storm warning is in effect for Randolph, Pocahontas, Webster, Fayette and Nicholas counties, and will remain in effect until 2 p.m. today.
Tom Mazza, meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said the storm was "a quick-moving system." He said snow showers will begin tapering off this afternoon with only flurries by this evening.
"You're looking at minimal accumulation, about an inch or less" today, Mazza said. "The sky should be clear by Sunday morning."
Local police departments investigated many minor wrecks and fender benders Friday after the snow began to fall.
Emergency officials battled the snow and winds Friday afternoon to retrieve a box truck from the median along U.S. Route 33 between Buckhannon and Elkins.
Ellamore Fire Department officials said they received a call at about 10 a.m. to respond to the accident. According to the Buckhannon Fire Department, the trucker did not suffer any obvious injuries after his box truck was overturned in the median.
The truck was reportedly leaking diesel fuel out of its tank. The Department of Environmental Protection also was called to the scene.
Ellamore Fire Department officials added that the driver was taken to a local hospital for treatment as a precaution.
The Upshur County Sheriff's Department is investigating the accident, and the weather conditions are being blamed for the incident.