UPDATE: Power being restored in Pocahontas County
[Updated Wednesday, October 31, 10:00 a.m.]
Pocahontas County Emergency Management Director Shawn Dunbrack says MonPower officials indicate the Green Bank/Arbovale area should have power fully restored by 4:00 p.m. today.
[Updated Wednesday, October 31, 9:00 a.m.]
Thursday morning update from Pocahontas County Emergency Management Director Shawn Dunbrack:
Power is restored to most of Pocahontas County.
As of 7:30AM this morning outages are as follows:
Bartow – 323 Durbin – 299 Arbovale – 448 Green Bank – 327 Cass – 112 Dunmore – 137 Marlinton – 195 Buckeye – 10 Hillsboro – 13 Slaty Fork – 137 Snowshoe – 43
MonPower will have several extra line crews in the county today to get power restored to as many customers as possible. If you power is still off, please call MonPower at 1‐800‐LIGHTSS
The warming shelter at Marlinton Municipal Building will be open today. You are welcome to come in and get warm, plug in cellphones, medical devices, etc. The Salvation Army is serving hot meals at the shelter as well as to anyone who wants to come by and eat.
The shelter at NRAO is open. Residents in this area can go to NRAO to get warm, plug in oxygen machines, and eat hot meals. Meals are served daily around 1:30PM.
The Huntersville Baptist Church is open as a shelter and hot meals are available.
If you are on home oxygen and are running out of portable tanks, please call your oxygen supplier. If they cannot respond to your needs, we have a limited supply available at the 911 Center.
Pocahontas Memorial Hospital is open and accepting emergency patients.
National Guard Health & Wellness teams are continuing to make rounds throughout the secondary roads to check on residents and provide assistance as needed.
Residents are asked to continue to check on your neighbors and provide them as much assistance as you can. If you have an emergency call 9‐1‐1.
Residents are cautioned about using propane and kerosene heaters indoors. Running these types of heaters with the windows closed can cause Carbon Monoxide to build up in your home. Carbon Monoxide is a deadly gas and can kill you. If you use these types of heat sources keep them close to a window with an opening for the fumes to escape.
Stay tuned to local media outlets and the Pocahontas County Emergency Management Agency’s Facebook page for updated information.
[Updated Wednesday, October 31, 10:30 a.m.]
Update from PCEM:
Power is out to all of Pocahontas County north of Hillsboro. Current information we are being given indicates that it could be out for 24 to 48 hours. The problem is a main transmission line coming into Pocahontas and Randolph Counties is down and they are not sure exactly where or what the problem is. Until the weather clears enough to get helicopters up to fly the line they will not know and repair could take several hours once it is found.
The warming shelter at Marlinton Municipal Building will be open today. This is a limited services only shelter at this time. You are welcome to come in and get warm, plug in cellphones, medical devices, etc. At the present time there is no meal service at this location. We are in the process of getting a Salvation Army canteen to respond. There is bottled and bulk water available at this location as well.
The shelter at NRAO remains open. Residents in this area can go to NRAO to get warm, plug in oxygen machines, etc. NRAO also has water available, but you may need to bring your own containers if you need large quantities.
[Updated Tuesday, October 30, 3:30 p.m.]
By mid-afternoon, Pocahontas County Emergency Services Director Shawn Dunbrack said power was restored to the majority of customers in Pocahontas County south of Dunmore.
"Telephone service is restored to most areas as well," said Dunbrack, "with the most outages again being north of Dunmore."
Warming shelters were opened on the second floor of the Marlinton Municipal Building and at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank. By Tuesday afternoon, Dunbrack said no one had checked into the Marlinton shelter. As a result, it closed at 2 p.m. Tuesday.
In Green Bank, Dunbrack said the NRAO shelter may remain open "depending on the power situation."
Residents in the Green Bank area could use the shelter to get warm, plug in oxygen machines and get water, said Dunbrack.
Two three-person National Guard Health and Welfare teams based in Marlinton made trips along the county's secondary roads throughout the day Tuesday, according to Dunbrack. These teams checked on residents and provided water and assistance where needed.
All primary roads in Pocahontas County were being treated by the West Virginia Division of Highways and are passable, according to Dunbrack. The lone exception was West Virginia Route 39 west, which was closed at the Pocahontas and Greenbrier county line due to snow and downed trees.
By mid-day Tuesday, Snowshoe Mountain Resort received 19 inches of snow, with winds clocking 60 miles per hour, according to spokesperson Krysty Ronchetti.
"We are expecting between one and a half to two feet of more snow in next 24 hours," Ronchetti said Tuesday afternoon.
"Residents need to continue to check on neighbors, stay indoors as much as possible and be prepared for possible secondary power outages," Dunbrack said as the storm system continued to move through the area Tuesday.
A Blizzard Warning remains in effect through 4 p.m. Wednesday, with 18–24 inches of snow forecast and winds gusting to 45 miles per hour.
[Updated Tuesday, October 30, 10:30 a.m.]
Power restored in Marlinton shortly after 10 a.m.
As of 9:04 a.m., the National Weather Service's Blizzard Warning was still effect through 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Power outages are widespread across most of the county, according to Pocahontas County Emergency Services Director Shawn Dunbrack.
"MonPower is having difficulty in assessing damages due to the inability to get aircraft in the air to fly the lines," Dunbrack stated in a Tuesday morning update. "They do know that there are no main transmission lines down so this is good news. However, without being able to assess the damages they cannot provide us with an estimated time of restoration."
Warming shelters were opened on the second floor of the Marlinton Municipal Building and at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank.
Dunbrack said he had contacted Red Cross for assistance in operating the shelters and eventually providing meals.
Two three-person National Guard Health and Welfare teams were preparing to depart from Marlinton to make trips along the county's back roads Tuesday morning, according to Dunbrack. These teams will check on residents and provide water if needed.
Dunbrack noted that Frontier was working to put generators in place at their facilities to restore phone service throughout the county.
"If you or anyone you know is able to help out at a shelter please go to the shelter and volunteer your services," said Dunbrack. "If you send anyone to a shelter to stay, make sure they bring their own bedding materials, personal hygiene items, and at the Marlinton shelter they will need to bring along easy to prepare food items or food they are willing to share with others."
Dunbrack added that volunteers were welcome to help at the county's Emergency Operations Center.
[Updated Monday, October 29, 9:10 p.m.]
As the wind, rain and snow intensify Monday evening and into the night, Pocahontas County Schools have announced they will be closed for Tuesday, October 30.
A revised National Weather Service Blizzard Warning forecasts that that remnants of Hurricane Sandy will bring one-to-three feet of snow at elevations above 3,000 feet and as much as 11-to-18 inches in the lower elevations by Wednesday afternoon.
[Updated 6:00 p.m.]
The following statement was issued by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's office at 5 p.m.:
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin declared a statewide state of emergency, effective noon today, and has activated 150 National Guard troops.
"Our troops will assist local responders in the areas we believe will be hardest hit by severe weather conditions. Additionally, our Division of Highways folks began work last night. I continue to encourage West Virginians to prepare their families by gathering necessities," said Gov. Tomblin. "I've already received calls from organizations willing to set up shelters and I'm grateful for the outpouring of support so early in this emergency. I'm asking all West Virginians to please check on and assist your neighbors, especially seniors and others who may have difficulty preparing for and weathering this storm."
The eastern mountain counties are expected to experience blizzard-like conditions receiving up to two feet of snow. The eastern panhandle counties are expected to experience flooding, and southern counties have already received some snowfall. While weather conditions could change, forecasts predict high winds and precipitation throughout the state-potentially causing power outages.
The statewide State of Emergency enables the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to operate a round the clock under the governor's direction. For response efforts, Gov. Tomblin has strategically positioned certain state agency personnel and equipment throughout the state.
West Virginians can learn more about how to prepare by visiting www.ready.wv.gov.
[Updated 1:30 p.m.]
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has declared a Statewide State of Emergency for West Virginia.
"This allows the release of specific resources including the West Virginia National Guard," according to Pocahontas County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Shawn Dunbrack.
A West Virginia National Guard Liaison Team has been requested for Pocahontas County but has not yet been approved, according to Dunbrack.
[Updated 12:45 p.m.]
Latest update from Pocahontas County Emergency Management Director Shawn Dunbrack issued at 12:13 p.m.:
Pocahontas Co remains under a Blizzard Warning. This is due to the rate of snowfall and wind conditions causing visibility issues later tonight.
Heaviest snowfall is expected later tonight after about 8 p.m. Snowshoe area can expect about 4-5 inches of snow today with rapidly increasing amounts overnight. The lower elevations may see no more than 4 to 6 inches of snow. With the temperatures hovering right around the freezing mark, this will be a heavy wet snow. Winds today may be 30 to 40 miles per hour. There may be some higher gusts on the mountaintops later tonight.
The West Virginia Division of Highways is coordinating with the National Guard to have extra heavy equipment available to remove snow if needed.
PCEMA continues to coordinate with local fire/EMS squads for their preparedness.
We are also working with the Red Cross to establish locations for emergency shelters should we have extended power outages in the county. If shelters are opened we will release the locations at that time.
Municipal water supplies are all full and should have plenty of capacity for several days.
Stay tuned to local media outlets as well as this site for continuing updates.
[Posted 11:30 a.m.]
As the remnants of Hurricane Sandy push into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, a National Weather Service Blizzard Warning takes effect for Pocahontas County and surrounding counties noon Monday, continuing through 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Other counties named in the warning are Randolph, Webster, Nicholas, Fayette and Raleigh.
Pocahontas County Schools are dismissing early, with busses leaving Pocahontas County High School at 12:30 p.m., according to an update from Pocahontas County Emergency Management.
A broadcast team from the Weather Channel is setting up on Snowshoe Mountain Resort for a 2 p.m. live report on the storm, according to David Dekema, Snowshoe's Director of Sales and Marketing.
Snow accumulations over the next few days will vary widely, depending on elevation, according to the NWS. Areas below 2,000 feet could see one-to-six inches of snow, while those above 3,000 feet could be buried under one to three feet of snowfall.
As the snow falls, visibility will be reduced, as the NWS says the area may be lashed by winds clocking 35 to 40 miles per hour, with gusts on the highest ridges reaching 50 miles per hour.
The combination of wind and heavy, wet snow may bring down tree limbs, causing power outages or fluctuations, said the NWS. Structural damage could also occur if the snow piles up as forecast.
In a statement released Monday morning, Pocahontas County Emergency Management Director Shawn Dunbrack said his office was coordinating with the NWS and the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to prepare for the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
In the event of long-term power outages, PCEM says it has identified suitable locations for Red Cross shelters in the county.
On June 29, a powerful wind storm known as a derecho caused widespread damage and disrupted power, with some areas waiting two weeks for electricity to be restored.
"We do not believe that this will be a long‐term event as was experienced with the June 29 Derecho storms," said the PCEM statement.
"We have spoken with officials from First Energy (MonPower), and they have additional assets in the area to assist with any power outages that may arise from this event," said the statement from Dunbrack's office. "Other utilities such as Frontier and AT&T are also prepared for any service interruptions."
"Residents were asked to start preparing for this storm on Friday and from all indications the majority of Pocahontas County residents are well stocked on groceries and necessary supplies and are ready to weather the storm," the PCEM statement added.
Once the blizzard arrives, the PCEM is urging people to "stay indoors and off the highways except for extreme emergencies."
Area Forecast Discussion from the National Weather Service in Charleston.