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Winter's Triumphant Return

It's been almost 2 weeks, but Old Man Winter is making his return. Tony says something INTERESTING is in the pipeline!

Rain Rut versus Snow Glut

This year’s January Thaw has just about run its course as our nearly 2 week reprieve from harsh winter blusters is at its end.

Along the way, Charleston managed to hit 60 degrees on Sunday and last night’s rains sent rivers like the Mud, Guyandotte, Scioto and Gauley to near flood stage.

The Greenbrier River in particular has been problematic as melting snows in the high country teamed with warm rains to send a wall of high water down the Greenbrier. All this rain activity has accentuated the “Rain Rut” that we have been in for nearly 2 weeks.

Since much of that mountain runoff must come thru Charleston on the Kanawha, the hydrologists at the National Weather Service who do such a good job monitoring our rivers are predicting a strong rise on the Great Kanawha with water lapping onto the steps at Haddad Riverfront Park and swamping Magic Island. No serious flooding is expected, but backwater problems on small tributaries, for example into South Charleston behind the Rec Center, will be common.

If there was any doubt how strong this January Thaw has been, it hit me around noon today when I saw a few earthworms on my noon jog. Indeed the frozen ground had thawed out and the red wigglers and night crawlers were back above ground level! That's normally a sign of spring.

Lois from Snowshoe’s switchboard tells me some snow remains in the woodlands around the ski lodge but down the mountain toward Marlinton and Buckeye (along the Greenbrier) the ground is now bare.

Of course the term “rut” is subjective because if you are a snow hater, the rain has been your friend. But for skiers and sledders alike (or should I say lugers since the Vancouver winter Olympics are now just a few weeks away), the rain has been a thorn in your side and worthy of the nickname “rut”.

But before we throw in the towel on the winter of 2010, BE ADVISED a second wave of equally snowy and cold air is heading our way as compared to the early season spell of December and early January.

To refresh your memory, the period from pre-Christmas thru mid January featured numerous snow days for the kids and several potent snowstorms. Back then I coined the phrase “Snow Glut” to describe the incoming weather.

Well fasten your seatbelts, since a second snow glut and cold wave appear poised to arrive by the weekend. The snow will come in rather tamely tonight into Tuesday with our first coating of snow in two weeks.

But by late this week, a moisture laden southern storm, which today is warming up in the El Nino Pacific bullpen, will be bridging northward into the Ohio, Big Sandy and Kanawha Valleys. At the same time a new arctic cold front will be passing here on Thursday and Friday.

How the cold and storm interact will go a long way to determining how much snow we shovel late this week.

So for now I just remind folks, especially late week travelers, to stay tuned as in this throwback winter anything and everything is possible!
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