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Officials plead for residents to stay off the roads

By Staff | Feb 10, 2010

Shepherdstown municipal employee Brian Welch clears the sidewalk in front of Town Hall during the second of two heavy snowstorms in less than a week.

Local officials involved in the emergency response to today’s severe blizzard are echoing calls issued by the National Weather Service to stay off the roads until the the storm has passed.

The National Weather Service has issued a special weather statement warning of extremely dangerous winter weather conditions in the Eastern Panhandle through this afternoon.

“Do not attempt to drive this morning and early afternoon,” read part of the statement, which continues “life threatening blizzard conditions have developed rapidly across the Baltimore-Washington region and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.” A blizzard warning remains in effect until 7 p.m. Six to 12 inches of blowing snow are predicted to fall by the end of this storm, with winds increasing to 20 to 30 mph with gusts of around 45 mph.

Blowing and drifting snow will reduce visibilities to between one quarter of a mile or lass at times, producing blizzard conditions.

“We are strongly encouraging people to stay off the roads,” said Jefferson County Homeland Security and Emergency Management director Barbara Miller in a telephone interview this morning. She also said that the National Weather Service has activated over 250 SkyWarn storm spotters in Jefferson County to confirm NWS weather radar observations.

A Red Cross Shelter is operating at Covenant Baptist Church on Route 230, south of Shepherdstown. Any residents needing to take shelter are welcome there.

Miller also praised the work of the Shepherd University Student Services Volunteers, who have helped with recovery efforts in Jefferson County, including assisting with setting up the Red Cross shelter, shoveling out fire hydrants and helping as telephone operators for county emergency units.