CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Temperatures dropped 10 degrees in 10 minutes Monday morning in the Kanawha Valley, according to a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston.And it kept dropping throughout the day, as temperatures were forecasted to reach minus 2 degrees overnight Monday and Tuesday night, said meteorologist Joe Merchant.Daytime temperatures weren't expected to provide much relief either, he said. The high Tuesday and Wednesday is 16 and a wind chill advisory is in effect until 1 p.m. Tuesday.Wind chill values could get down to minus ten Tuesday morning, Merchant said.
"We have a really cold air mass moving in," he said.As the temperature quickly dropped Monday, schools in Kanawha and Boone counties announced they would dismiss students an hour early because of the weather. As of 9 p.m. Monday, 51 counties including Kanawha and Boone had canceled school for today.A Kanawha County Metro 911 dispatcher said heavy Monday morning snows that quickly covered roadways contributed to 13 accidents between about 6 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. No one was injured, but drivers were urged to drive carefully.
Between 5:45 a.m. and 6:15 a.m. Monday, the temperature dropped from 46 to 31 degrees, Merchant said.The Southbound lanes of Interstate 77 were shut down at mile marker 106 near Sissonville at about 8:30 a.m. Monday because of the extremely bad road conditions. Capt. Sean Crosier of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department said cars weren't able to move because of icy conditions.The sudden snowstorm left road treatment crews struggling to clear highways and secondary roads for school buses and commuters."All we can do is do what we do best, and that's try and clear the roads," said Charleston Public Works Director Gary Taylor.
A typical route takes a salt truck about three hours to complete, but many times another storm will cover roads again before crews can finish treatment.Taylor said this winter has been rough for crews. The city has gone through about half of its 6,000 tons of salt, but its stockpile is still in good shape, Taylor said."We are replenishing our supplies," Taylor said. "Our budget is in good shape when it comes to the purchase of the salts."The only worry Taylor has is that road conditions in Ohio -- where the city's salt supplier, Morton Salt, is based -- could delay shipments. But, there haven't been any issues so far, Taylor said.
Charleston's Public Works has 36 people manning its 18 salt trucks and a host of support staff that load them with salt and mechanics who work on vehicles. Taylor said his staff is very dedicated to keeping roads clear for drivers.Saturday night's "thunder snow" had crewmembers volunteering to return to work after having been dismissed for the night, Taylor said."They called us and told us they were turning around and coming back, because they knew they were going to be needed," Taylor said. "The workforce that the city has is a stand up bunch of guys."Merchant predicted the area wouldn't see any snow or rain with the cold temperatures for the rest of the week."We're dry right now until the weekend," he said.Some relief might come Thursday, as temperatures are forecasted to reach the mid to upper 30s, Merchant said.
In Wheeling, the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack rescheduled live greyhound races because of expected cold temperatures. Wheeling Island said Monday that no live races will be held Tuesday and Wednesday. Live races will be held Thursday and simulcast racing will remain open every day.Reach Kate White at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1723. Reach Rachel Molenda at email@example.com or 304-348-5102. The Associated Press contributed to this report.