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SEVERE WEATHER: WV Turnpike Back to Normal; Power Outages Persist

By: Mike Waterhouse Email
By: Mike Waterhouse Email

UPDATE: Tuesday, December 22 @ 11:45am
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- 911 dispatchers tell WSAZ.com Kanawha County Emergency Relief Shelters are now closed.



UPDATE: Monday, December 21 @ 9:00am
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Kanawha County Emergency Operations Center was re-activated at 5:00 a.m. Monday.

The county has two emergency shelters opened for persons who have no power or heat. The shelters are located at the Pratt Volunteer Fire Department and the Kanawha City Recreation Center.

911 dispatchers urge drivers to use caution as some roadways may be slick Monday with the additional snow accumulation.

Emergency crews are also urging homeowners not to use kerosene heaters in unventilated homes.

If you are without power and need assistance, please contact the Emergency Operations Center at 304-746-8828.



SUNDAY UPDATES
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Slick roads and power outages still persist Sunday after the "snow storm of the decade" moved through the region earlier this weekend.

911 centers and police departments say that while most primary roads are clear, many secondary roads remain snow-covered and slick. Drivers are urged to use caution if headed out on Sunday.

A day after a series of accidents halted traffic on the West Virginia Turnpike for about 26 hours in the south bound lanes, Turnpike Control reports that as of 1 p.m., traffic in both the north and south bound lanes is flowing smoothly.

A state of emergency was issued by the governors in both West Virginia and Kentucky on Saturday and remains in effect.

Kentucky Governor Beshear, along with Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo plan to tour hard hit southeastern Kentucky Sunday. Mongiardo, a native of Hazard in Perry County says the state is trying to make sure people have the essentials -- drinking water and a warm place to stay while power is restored. Mongiardo says it may take up to four days for power to be fully restored to the area.

The West Virginia Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management issued this statement on its Twitter page (@WVDHSEM):
"Please continue to travel only as necessary so highway crews can continue to clear the roadways. If you need assistance, call 9-1-1."

SUNDAY POWER OUTAGE INFO
As of 10:45 p.m. Sunday, AEP reports about 142,888 customers in West Virginia and Kentucky without power. That's down from 194,350 at noon Sunday. Here is a breakdown of each state:
West Virginia: 90,924 (20.5% of all customers)
Kentucky: 51,964 (29.7%)

In West Virginia, the county with the most outages continues to be Kanawha with roughly 16,000. But, Clay county has 96% without power, Roane with more than 68% , Mingo with 63% and Boone and Logan with more than half of withouttomers wtihout power.

In Kentucky, Pike County continues to have the most with roughly 19,000 -- which is about 54% of all its customers.

AEP is reporting no outages in southeastern Ohio.

As of 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Buckeye Rural Electric reported that it still has 617 customers without power. Most of the larger outages were repaired Saturday evening. A majority of the BREC customers affected by outages from this storm live in Lawrence County, Ohio.

AEP'S estimated timeline for restoring power remains the same:
West Virginia: By noon on Wednesday, December 23
Kentucky: All back on by midnight on Sunday, December 27
Ohio: No estimate given.

SHELTER INFORMATION
An emergency shelter has been set up in Kermit (Mingo County) for anyone needing a warm place to stay. Firefighters say beds, food and water are available at the Kermit Community Center, which is the building next to the Volunteer Fire Department. If anyone needs a ride to the shelter, call the fire department at: 304-393-3156.

In Putnam County, a shelter has also been set up. Doors will open at Poca High School at 6 p.m. Sunday for people who are suffering power outages.

People in Lawrence County, Kentucky, can head over to the Lawrence County High School. It has been opened to folks in need of a warm place to stay.



SATURDAY UPDATES
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Treacherous road conditions continue to be reported all over our region, along with widespread power outages.

West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin has officially declared a state of emergency Saturday morning, ordering the implementation of the state’s Emergency Operations Plan and activation of the state’s Emergency Operations Center. The state of emergency allows the governor to direct special resources to the affected areas that otherwise would not be available.

"State and local emergency management officials are joining highway crews and assisting as best as possible where needed," Manchin said in a news release. "We continue to monitor the storm and our road crews are working around the clock to help emergency crews and first responders get where they need to be.

"I urge all residents to avoid unnecessary travel. This is a major storm and they should not add to the danger by driving if they don't absolutely have to be outside."

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear also declared a state of emergency after the number of power outages surpassed 100,000. The Commonwealth Emergency Operations Center has also been
activated to coordinate the response to the storm, including opening shelters, rescuing stranded motorists and clearing roads.

TURNPIKE STATUS
The West Virginia Turnpike Authority reports that both the north and south bound lanes of I-77 are back open, but moving slowly. The north bound side opened at about 9:30 p.m. and the south bound side opened at about 8 p.m.

On the north bound side, there is a massive backup more than 10 miles long, so the West Virginia State Police is slowly letting cars through to help prevent another accident that could make the mess on the WV Turnpike even worse. Two minor accidents have already been reported.

The National Guard is advising drivers to stay off the West Virginia Turnpike and all other roads Sunday, unless there is an emergency. That way, emergency crews can get where they need to be and help those who are still without power.

The who ordeal started Friday eveing when multiple accidents closed this south bound side of the highway, keeping it shut down for about 26 hours with drivers stuck in their cars.

Just before 2 p.m. Saturday, the West Virginia Department of Highways shut down the north bound lanes at the 48 mile marker to give the National Guard access to stranded drivers on the south bound side. Guard members delivered food, water and supplies to those stuck in the traffic jam.

The south bound jam started at the Mahan exit and had traffic backed up for at least 11 miles to the Barrier B toll booths. At 3:25 p.m., the WVDOT issued a news release stating that the West Virginia Turnpike will remain closed "until further notice."

POWER OUTAGES
As of 2:27 p.m. Saturday, AEP reports about , 216,886 customers without power in West Virginia, southeast Ohio and eastern Kentucky, up from 158,394 at about 10 a.m. Here is a breakdown of each state:
West Virginia: 136,216 (30.7% of all customers)
Kentucky: 74,959 (42.8%)
Ohio: 5,711 (.4%)

In West Virginia, the county with the most outages is Kanawha with 38,296 -- leaving about a third of AEP's customers without power. But, Roane, Nicholas and Mingo counties all have 70% or more with no power. In Kentucky, Pike has the most with 26,612 -- which is about 76% of all its customers. Leslie County in Kentucky, however, has about 92% of its power customer with no service. And in Ohio, Athens County has the most outages with 2,123 -- about 7.7% of all customers.

At 7 p.m., Buckeye Rural Electric reported that it now has most of the larger outages repaired, bringing the number of customers without power to far less a thousand. It says most of the remaining customers without power are individual outages. Almost all of the BREC customers affected by outages from this storm live in Lawrence County, Ohio.

AEP'S ESTIMATED TIMELINE FOR RESTORING POWER
West Virginia: By noon on Wednesday, December 23
Kentucky: All back on by midnight on Sunday, December 27
Ohio: No estimate given.

AEP says more than a thousand additional crews from other states, as far away as Michigan and Mississippi, will be in our region Monday to help get service restored.

EMERGENCY HELP & INFORMATION
Kanawha County Metro 911 says it has received 8,000+ weather-related calls since 8 p.m. Friday, and has since opened its Emergency Operations Center. The county will now offer assistance to anyone needing emergency shelter or health and welfare checks. Emergency shelters have been opened at the Kanawha City Recreation Center, North Charleston Recreation Center, Martin Luther King Center and St. Albans High School. The shelters will be open through the night for those without power who need a warm place to stay. If you need help in Kanawha County, you can call 304-746-8828.

Emergency officials in Putnam County say people can find shelter at Poca High School.

In Martin County, Kentucky, an emergency shelter has been set up at the Senior Citizens Center for those without water or electricity. If you are without water or electricity and need a ride to the emergency shelter, contact the Martin County Office of Emergency Management at 606-298-3211.

In Logan County, West Virginia, emergency centers have been set up at Chapmanville City Hall, Logan Middle School, and Church of the Nazarene in Man.

In Lawrence County, Kentucky, a pickup service has been put into place for anyone who doesn't have power and needs a ride to a shelter. Call 606-638-0334 for assistance.

ROAD REPORTS
Below are the latest accidents, closures and other reports coming in from 911 centers and official sources. Please share road condition with us by entering it in our comment form under the "comments" tab above.


  • 9:32pm: All lanes of the WV Turnpike are now back open, according to the WV Turnpike Authority, but traffic is moving very slowly in the north bound lanes. Two minor accidents with no injuries have been reported.
  • 7:57pm: The WV Turnpike Authority says the south bound lanes are reopen to motorists. Right now, the north bound lanes are still closed from Beckley to Ghent. They estimate it will be another hour before the roadway moving north is back to normal. Crews are still working to clear the roads.
  • 5:30pm: The WV Turnpike Authority says the road is still closed in both directions. North bound traffic is now backed up at least 7-8 miles starting at the 48 mile marker (Mossy Toll Booth). Dispatchers are urging anyone with the intention of traveling the Turnpike tonight to change their plans.
  • 4:45pm: From the KYDOT: heavily-traveled Priority A routes, such as I-64, US 23, US 60 and the AA Highway, are wet but mostly clear. Secondary routes remain slushy in Boyd, Elliott, Carter and Greenup counties. Bath, Fleming, Lewis, Mason, Nicholas and Rowan counties report wet pavement road conditions, with temperatures 33 to 38 degrees.
  • 3:25pm: The WVDOT issued a news release stating that the West Virginia Turnpike will remain closed "until further notice"
  • 1:51pm: The West Virginia Department of Highways has completely shut down the West Virginia Turnpike at the 48 mile marker so that the National Guard can have access to stranded drivers. The National Guard will also assist in cleaning the roadways.
  • 12:41pm: Dispatchers with the WV Turnpike Authority say the south bound lanes are still closed, and crews are working to clear up the roadway.
  • 10:13am: WV Turnpike officials say the south bound lanes of I-77 remain closed due to multiple accidents. Traffic is backed up for at least 11 miles from the Barrier B toll booths to the Mahan exit. Drivers are strongly urged to avoid the Turnpike.
  • 10:11am: Kanawha County emergency officials are asking people to stay off the roadways unless it is an emergency.
  • 9:45am: The WV Department of Transportation reports that most major highways, including I-64, I-77 and I-79, are either snow-covered or have spots where snow is covering the road.
  • 7:52am: Kanawha County Metro 911 says that no major accident have been reported, but drivers should use caution due to downed trees and power lines.
  • 7:18am: Cabell County 911 says that roads are snow-covered, but no major accidents have been reported. The heavy snow has knocked down a lot of trees and power lines.
  • 7:09am: The West Virginia Turnpike continues to have major delays Saturday morning. I-77 south bound is at a gridlock between Beckley and Ghent due to poor road conditions. Turnpike control reports cars off the road and jack-knifed tractor trailers in this area. North bound is moving, but very slowly. There have been a lot of wrecks along the entire turnpike, but no serious injuries. It has stopped snowing in the problem area.
  • 6:18am: Here is the latest road info from the Kentucky Department of Transportation:
    • Boyd County – Snow 2-4 inches, seven trucks plowing, roads completely covered, temps 32.
    • Carter County – Snow 2-4 inches, 11 trucks plowing, roads completely covered, temps 32.
    • Elliott County – Snow about 4 inches, six trucks plowing, roads completely covered, temps 33.
    • Greenup County – Snow 2 inches, seven trucks plowing, roads completely covered, temps 32.
    • Lewis County – Snow about 1.5 inches, 10 trucks plowing, roads mostly covered, temps 32.
    • Rowan County – Snow 3 inches, nine trucks plowing, roads completely covered, temps 32.

  • 6:05am: Route 61 is closed between Handley and Montgomery due to trees down across the road.
  • 11:35pm: Multiple reports of accidents on I-79 in Kanawha County between the 7 and 21 mile markers.
  • 11:01pm: Route 94 near Marmet Health Care is closed due to poor road conditions.



UPDATE at 10:15pm Friday
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Metro 911 has issued an alert that the Barrier C West Virginia Turnpike toll station near Sharon is not allowing any motorists through either way.

They are asking drivers to avoid the area.

There are problems all along the turnpike toward Beckley. Many drivers have been at a dead stop for hours.

In southeastern Kentucky, the Hal Rogers Parkway is nearly impassable in some areas.



ORIGINAL STORY
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Winter weather is beginning to hit our region hard, causing major delays on the West Virginia Turnpike and road closures in eastern Kentucky.

Dispatchers with the turnpike tell WSAZ.com that the highway is in bad shape from mile marker 53 south to the state line. Tractor trailers have reportedly jack-knifed throughout that stretch, and many have gotten stuck on hills.

The turnpike is asking all drivers to avoid that portion of the road until further notice.

In Eastern Kentucky, some roadways have become impassable because of heavy snow, according to Sarah George with the Kentucky Department of Highways, especially in Floyd and Pike counties.

Among road closings are Route 122 in Floyd County in the Abner Mountain area, U.S. 23 in Pike County in the Dorton Hill area and Route 1056 in the Lookout area of Pike County and

"Trucks are out trying to get the roads passable, but the snow is coming down faster than we can keep up with it," George said at 6:45 p.m. Friday.


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