CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has declared a state of emergency due to this weekend’s snowstorm.
The declaration Friday activated state resources to address winter conditions and keep residents safe. The West Virginia National Guard, Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety and the Department of Transportation are among those activated to help.
Earlier this week Tomblin declared a state of preparedness, which is a step below a state of emergency.
A state of emergency does not restrict travel or require the closing of schools or businesses. Public schools are closed in 51 of the state’s 55 counties.
It also does not mean the state will receive federal assistance.
Parts of West Virginia could be under 2 feet or more of snow by the end of the weekend, and that could threaten to break some snowfall records.
According to the National Weather Service, the most snow to fall in a 24-hour period in Beckley was 31 inches in January 1998.
Clarksburg recorded 24 inches over 24 hours in November 1950. Elkins’ record is 20.7 inches in 2009.
The blizzard of March 1993 dumped nearly 22 inches in Huntington, 20 inches in Parkersburg and 17.2 inches in Charleston over a 24-hour period.
Marshall University and West Virginia University canceled classes on Friday due to the approaching storm. Locally so did all public and private schools and Southern W.Va. Community and Technical College.
The universities say in statements that the announcements apply to all of their campuses.
Public schools are closed in 51 of the state’s 55 counties. The exceptions are in Doddridge County and in the Northern Panhandle, where the storm wasn’t expected to hit until Friday afternoon. Schools in Doddridge, Marshall and Ohio counties planned to send students home early due to the storm.
In Craigsville, located in the central mountains where up to 2 feet of snow is projected to fall, Missy Keaton says residents came to the Hardware, That’s Us store where she works to buy plenty of kerosene heaters, propane tanks and gas cans in preparation for the storm.
In October 2012, snow from Superstorm Sandy caused numerous roof collapses in nearby Summersville, forcing a grocery store and a convenience store to close. Other roof collapses involved an elementary school, an apartment complex, a hardwood plant and three homes.
Keaton says she believes a lot of residents are prepared this time after what the area went through in 2012.
Just in case, Keaton says her store sells a rake that helps residents get the snow off their roofs.
While some residents and businesses worry about the effect of a large storm making its way across the U.S., at least one industry is loving all the snow: ski resorts.
Many resorts got a late start to the season because of record high temperatures in December. The storm that started to arrive in some states Friday is expected to dump feet of snow in some areas. In West Virginia, up to 2 feet is forecast.
Joe Stevens of the West Virginia Ski Areas Association says, “There is never too much snow on the slopes.” But he admitted that getting to and from resorts on icy roads could be problematic, as could clearing snow from parking lots packed with visitors.
Still, he says, skiing and snowboarding will be excellent at the state’s four major resorts: Snowshoe Mountain, Canaan Valley, Winterplace and Timberline.