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Ash Wednesday Travel Alert

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - After 3 days with highs in the 50s and 60s, one would think a straight forward rainy day would unfold as low pressure passes on Ash Wednesday.

In this case however, it appears Mother Nature and Old Man Winter are set to conspire for a wild and wooly weather day instead.

On the table, everything from heavy rain causing street flooding, to a period of heavy wet snow with flakes the size of quarters or even silver dollars and yes, throw in a rare February thunder snowshower for effect!

Now that’s a real slap in the face!

The culprit for this unusual atmospheric cocktail is a deepening area of storminess in the Southern States. As low pressure tracks from New Orleans (where Fat Tuesday was a washout for revelers) to Knoxville to Clintwood Va, this low will be feeding on warm semi-tropical air (it hit 75 on Bourbon Street today in between the downpours).

That should generate enough rain to block up some storm drains as downpours cross the Coalfields and Kanawha Valley on Wednesday.

But the wild card in this forecast is a feed of colder, drier air coming out of Northern Ohio. This polar air has the ability to chill the atmosphere just enough to change rain to sleet and wet snow through Southern Ohio, far Northern Kentucky and of course the mountains of West Virginia.

These areas should see an “above ground” accumulation of snow on grass, cars, rooftops and trees during the height of the storm, late morning through mid afternoon.

With the ground conditioned after the recent warm days, paved surfaces should be mainly wet as snow/sleet melt. But a word of caution if caught in a blinding squall of snow, wind and thunder! If snow falls harder than it melts, roads could be briefly slush covered.

In the mountains of WV, expect a whiteout with a fast and furious 4 inches of snow in Nicholas, Webster, Randolph and Pocahontas Counties. Travel along Route 19 and 219 will be very hazardous.

The nasty concoction will move in first along the Hal Rogers and Mountain Parkways of Kentucky with rain and downpours in the near down hours. Farther north along I-64, rain,sleet and snow will graze the Bluegrass from Louisville to Lexington on Wednesday morning before arriving in Ohio and West Virginia after sunrise.

In Ohio, the trip north along the Scioto Trail (Rt 23) will run out of the rain,sleet and snow north of Chillicothe. But the Bob Evans Highway seems fair game to have several hours of wet snow and sleet mixed with rain. Route 35 should be remain wet as temperatures stay above freezing.

On the WV Turnpike, the morning mixed bag will change to an afternoon heavy wet snow with I-77 becoming slushy at the height of the thickly falling snow.


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