Making Room For Additional Snow

WHEELING – More than 6,000 local residents were still waiting for their electrical service to be restored late Monday as the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning in anticipation of the next snowy blast to strike the region.

From 7 a.m. today until 7 p.m. Wednesday, Hancock, Brooke, Ohio, Marshall and Wetzel counties in West Virginia, and Belmont, Jefferson, Harrison and Monroe counties in Ohio are warned that up to 9 additional inches of accumulation can be expected to fall – adding to the drifts and treacherous conditions created by a storm that dumped 12-24 inches across the region this weekend. Brisk winds of 20-30 mph are anticipated as well, leading to blowing snow, frigid temperatures, more power outages and dangerous travel conditions.

Lou Giordano, a NWS meteorologist, said this storm will be a more prolonged event than the weekend storm that dropped large amounts of precipitation in a relatively short period of time. Giordano said the additional snow and an increase in the wind might mean more power lines are in jeopardy of coming down.

Most local schools had canceled classes for today by Monday evening.

According to American Electric Power, employees were working Monday to restore power for many residents of Jefferson, Harrison, Belmont, Ohio and Marshall counties. The power outage also affected water service in outlying areas of Ohio and Marshall counties by impacting pumping stations.

In the wake of the weekend storm, city of Wheeling crews also have been working around the clock, but their task has been to clear massive amounts of snow from streets and sidewalks.

“Basically, we’ve had anywhere from 12 to 24 inches of snowfall, depending on where you live,” said Rusty Jebbia, director of Public Works for the city. “One of the problems we have is because it was such a big snowfall and because some of these areas have such tight sidewalks, there really is no place for the snow – so by the time the plow comes through and by the time somebody throws the snow back off of the sidewalk, it ends up in the parking lane. … So, we’re dealing with that.”

Jebbia outlined the challenges his crews were facing Monday afternoon while directing workers near Centre Market. He said crews encountered a number of obstacles over the weekend – everything from fallen trees blocking roadways to equipment failures.

“We had so many trees down that were blocking roadways that we couldn’t get into the roadways to get them cleared off,” he said.

Jebbia said workers also had to deal with some equipment failures, but they were able to get their vehicles fixed and back out on the roads, usually within an hour. He said some of the plows had transmission failures and other problems.

“We really got most of the streets opened up pretty well on Saturday because we worked throughout the night,” Jebbia said. “Our equipment took a beating because they were running 24/7 for three days straight. We only have a few pieces of equipment – we’ve got four loaders right now in the city fleet.”

Jebbia said there also are concerns about private parking lots, noting some private contractors have pushed all the snow from a private lot out into city parking spaces.

“We’ve got to come back and clean that up,” he said. “So now we’re cleaning up stuff that isn’t really our responsibility, but we’ve got to get our street open. … It is ongoing, and it just gets frustrating.”

Jebbia asks that business owners and residents be patient and said the city crews will eventually clear all problem areas.

Lou Vargo, director of the Ohio County Emergency Management Agency, said those who are are using electrical generators outside and fossil fuel heaters in their homes should exercise caution.

“Follow the manufacturer’s directions, and make sure they are well ventilated,” he said, warning against the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. “I tell people if they buy one of these, they might want to buy a carbon monoxide detector with it.”

New Manchester Fire Chief Roger Stewart echoed Vargo’s comments after four adults and two children were sent Saturday to Weirton Medical Center for carbon monoxide poisoning. Stewart said volunteer firefighters were dispatched at 9:04 p.m. to 4066 Hardins Run Road. All six individuals were breathing, but were in variable states of consciousness when firefighters arrived at the location, he said. Stewart said the carbon monoxide originated from a generator located underneath the front porch.

“We need to stress to people that carbon monoxide is dangerous. You can’t smell it, you don’t know it’s there. With kerosene heaters and generators, you want to make sure you get fresh air into your house if you are using them,” Stewart noted.

He added the fire department, located at 193 High St., New Manchester, is open to residents needing a place to stay because of power outages. Many other local fire departments and agencies also have opened their doors to serve as emergency shelters, and some local hotels are offering discounted rates to those whose electrical service has been disrupted.