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Significant snowfall to be followed tonight by bitter cold

by James Fisher

STAFF WRITER

A winter storm sliced through West Virginia on Thursday, leaving up to 8 inches of snow on the mountaintops and forcing school closings in 31 counties.

Scattered snow showers may continue to dump snow on the area today and tonight before a brief break Saturday afternoon, according to meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Charleston.

The storm systems are moving through the area so quickly that weather experts are having trouble keeping tabs on them, said Chris Leonardi in Charleston. In fact, storms are hitting the state about every other day, he said.

Wednesday night's storm dumped between 4-6 inches on most of North Central West Virginia, with showers predicted to continue Thursday. Total accumulation for Thursday was expected to be between 5-9 inches, according to Matt Belk of the NWS.

West Virginia's highways ranged from wet to snow covered. The worst conditions were reported north of Charleston on Interstates 77, 79 and 68.

Highway crews were plowing or salting roads in all 55 counties. Travel was expected to remain difficult at temperatures were expected to remain near freezing.

"They keep going, and going, and going," said a spokesman with the state Division of Highways. "Back and forth, back and forth."

Snow is expected to taper off tonight and Saturday should be clear and sunny, Leonardi said. However, snow could return Saturday night into Sunday, he said.

"We'll get a short break before another storm system moves into the area," Leonardi said. "The biggest thing is going to be the cold."

Highs today should only reach the 20s, he said, while lows should be in the single digits.

The temperature drop will be accompanied by 15 to 25 mph winds, Belk said. Wind chills could drop to around -10 degrees, he said.

Many school systems in North Central West Virginia will be closed today, but not necessarily because of the weather.

Harrison, Randolph and Doddridge counties all had scheduled Faculty Senate Days today, so the wintery weather did not disrupt plans at all. A secretary at the Upshur County Board of Education said Thursday afternoon that she was unsure if school would be closed, but it looked doubtful. No one was available for school information in Taylor, Lewis or Barbour counties Thursday afternoon.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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