MASON COUNTY — Mason County weathered the most recent winter storm without power outages and any major catastrophes, despite concerns to the contrary.
One of the major concerns were those power outages.
According to Phil Moye, spokesperson for Appalachian Power, the storm was expected, in some areas, to bring up to one-half inch of ice followed by four to eight inches of snow. The storm brought less ice accumulation than anticipated and produced snowfall that was not accumulating heavily on trees. As a result, damage and outages associated with the storm were minimal.
In fact, at the height of the storm, only 2,500 people in the entire state lost power, Moye said. However, Appalachian Power decided to err on the side of caution after consulting with their staff meteorologists who were tracking the storm. As a result, 500 line mechanics from other states were called into the coverage area just prior to the storm to be prepared for possible outages.
In Mason County, crews were spotted arriving on Sunday afternoon in several places, including the parking lot of the Mason County Courthouse which was a staging area for lineman from Service Electric Company out of Chattanooga, Tenn. Moye said Appalachian Power often contracts with workers from areas like Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky who are familiar with mountainous and hilly terrain. Thankfully, these crews weren’t needed and were released to go home on Monday.
Moye said unlike the derecho in 2012, there was ample warning with this storm and had it been as bad as it was predicted, Appalachian Power didn’t want to be days into the aftermath without any help.
“It’s better to be safe than sorry,” Moye reiterated.
On Monday, Mason County Sheriff Greg Powers said it appeared most people paid attention to the storm warnings and stayed home until the worst was over. Powers reported his deputies had been called out on only a few accident calls though they were minor. Back roads were still bad though the main roads were improving on Monday, Powers said, adding the West Virginia Department of Highways had been out working all over the county.
Mason County Commission President Rick Handley echoed Powers’ sentiment, saying it appeared most people “heeded” the storm warnings and stayed off the roads. Conditions were so bad Sunday night, Handley and County Administrator John Gerlach made the call to close the Mason County Courthouse on Monday.
In addition, Handley said he’d been in touch with Chuck Blake, the director of the Mason County Emergency Management Agency who reported a full staff at the 911 Center and Office of Emergency Services was available to respond to any needs. However, as of Monday afternoon, there were no major incidents in the county but again, just as with the prepared response to possible power outages, better safe than sorry.
Schools were also closed on Monday in Mason County as a result of the latest storm, giving students yet another snow day.