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A winter storm system is expected to sweep into West Virginia Thursday afternoon, bringing snow accumulations of 3 to 6 inches to the state’s western and southern lowlands, and 4 to 8 inches to the eastern mountains, according to the National Weather Service.

Brisk winds and plummeting temperatures accompanying the storm could produce near-zero-degree wind chill values in the lowlands and below-zero values in the higher mountains.

The Weather Service’s Charleston Forecast Office issued a winter storm warning for heavy snow with possible accumulations of 4 to 8 inches from noon Thursday to 8 a.m. Friday, covering 30 of the state’s 55 counties. The warning excluded counties in the Ohio River Valley from Mason County northward into the Northern Panhandle.

Schools announce early dismissals Thursday due to Winter Storm Warning

While the Charleston area is expected to begin Thursday with partly sunny skies and above-freezing temperatures, the storm’s early afternoon arrival could produce 1 to 3 inches of snow. A new wave of snow showers is expected to arrive later, mainly between 7 p.m. and midnight, bringing an additional 1 to 3 inches of snowfall as temperatures descend to about 15 degrees.

Thursday afternoon commuters are expected to encounter slick roads and heavy snow, producing hazardous driving conditions, according to the Weather Service.

The snowfall is expected to end by early Friday and be replaced by partly sunny skies with highs in the mid-20s.

In the Huntington area, 1 to 3 inches of snow is expected to fall Thursday afternoon, with less than 1 inch of additional snow expected during the night Thursday.

Localized high-altitude snowfalls totaling 9 inches or more were considered possible during the storm-warning period.

Rick Steelhammer is a features reporter. He can be reached at 304-348-5169 or rsteelhammer Follow @rsteelhammer on Twitter.

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