Winter Storm to Vie for Title "Season's Worst"

As Josh Fitzpatrick reported at 6pm, Winter Storm Watches were upgraded to Warnings for Sunday night and Monday as growing evidence is pointing toward the most impacting snow and ice fall of the season.

What will make this case so potent is the combination of cold air pouring in from the north (you should see the Saturday night snow at Soldier Field in Chicago during the outdoor NHL game) and a mother load of Pacific Ocean moisture channeling from California (the saturated scenes from the Golden State with flash floods and mudslides are astounding).

As those two air streams meet right over our region, the Ohio, Big Sandy and Kanawha Valleys will be dead smack in the middle of this meteorological concoction.

That's a perfect set up for a BIG SNOW AND ICE STORM.

Basically there are 5 Phases/Time Periods with this storm. Here's a snapshot of the next 36 hours with a more detailed descriptor to follow.

PHASE 1 Sunday Morning, light rain arrives first points west. Mixed ice north toward Waverly-Wellston-McArthur-Marietta-Parkersurg. Ice on trees by noon up north.

PHASE 2 Sunday late afternoon, temperatures drop to 32 and rain begins to freeze first on above ground surfaces.

PHASE 3 Sunday after dark, rain freezes on sidewalks and untreated roads. Slippery Travel on foot and by car. Freezing rain then changes to sleet and sleet accumulates an inch on all ground level surfaces by midnight. Travel hazardous.

PHASE 4 Overnight into Monday morning, sleet changes to heavy snow. Snow falls at rate of 1 inch per hour. 3"-6" by first light of day. Total accumulations reach 4"-8" by noon.

PHASE 5 Monday into Tuesday Deep Freeze as temperatures plunge to harshly cold levels, near 10 degrees turning everything into solid ice.

Here's a more detailed look at the 5 Phases

There will be 5 PHASES of this Winter Storm with PHASE 1 a rather benign Sunday morning rain mixing with sleet by noon off to the north.

PHASE 2 is where ice storm conditions ensue first in Southern Ohio from Scioto to Athens and Washington Counties during the afternoon. Here the first sub-freezing temperatures will be registered.

These first reports of ice on trees and power lines in this so called "Southern Ohio Snow and Ice Belt" are crucial to determine if ice storm conditions ensue for other areas.

During PHASE 2 (change from rain to ice) the duration of freezing rain will go a long way to pinpointing how extensive power outs are.

In a nutshell, the longer it rains into sub-freezing air, the better chance of power outs.

It appears the duration of the freezing rain will last 2-4 hours generally in the late afternoon-early evening along I-64. That's just long enough for scattered outages.

Careful of slippery sidewalks and steps during this 'freezing" period.

PHASE 3 will take hold after sunset along I-64 as the air chills enough for sleet (little pellets of ice) to mix in and then take over. It appears the sleet may hold on until midnight with up to 4 hours of sleet allowing for a inch of plowable ice pellets to accumulate along the I-64 zone from Olive Hill to Kenova and St. Albans.

Travel during this phase will be icy and very slick.

PHASE 4 is the one the kids are most interested in as sleet changes to heavy snow after midnight and falls at the rate of an inch per hour all the way through sunrise Monday in Southern Ohio , 10 AM in Northern Kentucky and the River Cities of Huntington-Ashland-Ironton and until noon in the Charleston-Kanawha Valley-Coalfeild region.

That's the preferred time slot for the 4"-8" of snow and ice that Josh is predicting to be on the ground by midday Monday.

PHASE 5 is the one that will tie the school system into knots as a late season shot of frigid arctic air changes the accumulation into a frozen "7-11" slushy.

Temperatures will start out in the 20s Monday morning then fall into the ice box teens by Monday evening.

A sprained ankle or worse alert will be in effect as walking on the ice will be a hazard.

With the weight of this snow to be so extensive from the Sunday night sleet, it is prudent for adults to hire kids in the neighborhood to shovel the snow.

Add it up and the impact this storm will have on our lives may well be the highest of the season and put the semi-finishing touches on the GREATNESS of the WINTER OF 2013-14.

WSAZ NewsChannel 3 645 Fifth Avenue Huntington, WV 25701 304-697-4780 WSAZ Charleston 111 Columbia Avenue Charleston, WV 25302 304-344-3521
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