Heavy snow spread across the eastern Ohio Valley and into the central Appalachians today, closing schools and blacking out thousands of utility customers, and a winter storm warning was posted for most of West Virginia.
Coopers Rock State Forest in northern West Virginia had 17 inches of snow today and 10 inches covered the ground at Chalk Hill, Pa., and Perry County, Ohio. To the south, the Ohio River city of Huntington, W.Va., had 7 inches.
Schools were closed in several West Virginia counties, along with West Virginia University in Morgantown. The speed limit on the West Virginia Turnpike was reduced to 35 m.p.h. and all major highways in the state were snow-covered, highway officials said.
Surprisingly Heavy Snowfall
Snow had been predicted overnight but "the amount of snow that fell was unexpected," said forecaster Jerry Orchanian in Charleston, W.Va. Over the weekend, the state had temperatures in the 50s and 60s.
About 4,000 customers lost electrical service in the Morgantown area, and at least 1,600 customers were blacked out in southern West Virginia.
About 14,000 customers had no electricity in southeastern Ohio.
In southwestern Pennsylvania, the heavy snow snarled traffic and broke tree limbs that severed power lines. Up to 15,000 West Penn Power Co. customers were without service, while an unknown number of customers of Duquesne Light Co. also lost service.
"We've had accidents all over the place," said state Trooper Richard Marshall in Greensburg, Pa.
A heavy snow warning was issued for western Maryland with a winter storm warning for Pennsylvania's Laurel Mountains. Travelers' advisories were issued for parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, northeastern Tennessee and eastern Kentucky.
Rain Slows Commuters
Northeast of the snow belt, rain, drizzle and fog slowed morning commuters from Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic states into New England, and the fog cut visibility to near zero in places, the weather service said.
Rain, melting snow and ice jams caused flooding in western Pennsylvania, closing sections of several roads, and flooding was possible in western New York, the National Weather Service said. Du Bois, Pa., got 1.03 inches of rain in six hours early today.
Elsewhere, a travelers' advisory for higher regions of northwestern and central Montana warned of wet snow and gusty wind, and rain showers were scattered over parts of the Plateau and the northern Pacific Coast.