CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Much of West Virginia is expected to get a rare white Christmas, forecasters said.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a winter storm watch from Thursday afternoon (today) through Friday morning for with up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow possible. Temperatures should dip into the lower teens on Thursday and Friday nights.
The highest elevations are expected to see the greatest accumulations along with wind chill readings that make it feel well below zero outside. Other areas are forecast to receive 3 to 6 inches (7.6 centimeters to 15 centimeters) of snow.
The weather service also has issued a flash flood watch Thursday for eastern portions of the state.
The last time there was an inch (2.5 centimeters) or more of snow measured on the ground on Christmas morning occurred in 2010 in Huntington and Charleston, in 2013 in Beckley and 2018 in Elkins, the weather service said.
According to information from NWS shared on Wednesday by the Mason County Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, in the Ohio Valley Publishing readership area, rain on Christmas Eve is expected to change to snow from west to east in late afternoon into this evening (Dec. 24) and fall heavily at times. Forecast models on the low end showed a possible two inches of snow for Mason County while those on the high end showed nine possible inches of accumulation. Another model showed a total accumulation of five inches predicted for the area from the snow event. At any rate, the chance of snow is likely – it’s the amount that remains unclear.
Christmas Eve could bring one to two inches of rain to the area before the changeover to snow, along with gusty winds and an arctic cold front. Temperatures will drop rapidly below freezing, likely causing a flash freeze on untreated roadways and allowing snow to quickly accumulate, the NWS warned.
Wind chills Christmas morning through Saturday morning will be in the single digits on either side of zero in the readership area and zero to 15 below zero in the mountains.
“Crashing temperatures, falling snow and gusty winds will cause difficult travel conditions Thursday evening into Christmas morning,” the NWS stated.
The best guess as to when the rain changes to snow Christmas Eve, is 4-6 p.m. for Mason County, according to the NWS.
All these forecasts are subject to change but were the best available at press time Wednesday.
Information for this story provided by the AP with additional information sourced by OVP from NWS.