Region continues to brace for freezing temperatures
HUNTINGTON — Emergency officials are asking people to be prepared as a polar vortex continues to grip the area, possibly plunging temperatures into single digits or below zero.
Weather models show dangerously cold temperatures for Wednesday and Thursday, coupled with wind chill factors below zero degrees. Snow accumulation could create “flash freeze” conditions on roadways during Wednesday morning’s commute, possibly leading to accidents and delays.
The National Weather Service issued a wind chill advisory until 10 a.m. Thursday for several West Virginia counties, including Cabell, Mason and Putnam. Wind chills could lead to frostbite and hypothermia if precautions are not taken, according to the advisory. People are urged to wear hats and gloves.
A hazardous weather outlook remains in effect for portions of northeast Kentucky, portions of southeast Ohio and most of West Virginia, including Cabell and Mason counties.
An arctic pass crossing through the region Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning could bring snow showers and strong winds, creating reductions in visibility and quick dustings of snow. The hazardous weather outlook will expire by 10 a.m. Thursday.
The State Emergency Operations Center has received situation reports for all counties as of 7 a.m. Tuesday, said Lora D. Lipscomb, public information officer for the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, in a news release.
All county emergency operations centers are monitoring weather conditions and will continue to provide daily reports. No county reported unmet needs or issues, according to the release.
In Huntington, Harmony House will open at 6 a.m. on any day falling below 30 degrees. At the Huntington City Mission, anyone may come escape the cold, even if they have been previously barred from there.
Amanda Coleman, executive director of the Cabell-Huntington Coalition for the Homeless, said teams are working to encourage known homeless people to come inside. Two people living on the river who refused services and suffer from serious mental illnesses will be placed in a motel for two nights, she said.
Anyone aware of someone living in inhabitable conditions is asked to call 304-417-2465.
The West Virginia Department of Transportation continues to stay prepared to treat major roads. Drivers are urged to stay up to date on road conditions by visiting www.wv511.org.
Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.