County readies for possible storm

PARKERSBURG – An approaching storm front is reminding people of last year’s widespread derecho, but weather officials are not sure if it will be as severe.

The National Weather Service in Charleston is reporting showers and thunderstorms might occur today, possibly starting later in the morning.

”Some storms could be severe, with large hail and damaging winds,” the NWS website reported.

There is a 60 percent chance of precipitation.

Meteorologist Jeff Hovis said thunderstorms will be moving into the area today, but he is not sure when they may hit the Parkersburg area with the Columbus, Ohio, area under the greatest threat.

However, conditions could occur that would bring damaging winds and hail into the area.

While people are mindful of last year’s derecho, its damaging winds and widespread power outages, Hovis said this storm is different in that last year it was more than 100 degrees and very humid.

With the approaching storm, the temperature is expected to reach into the 80s.

”It will be around 20 degrees cooler with not as much moisture,” he said.

Hovis said if it remains cloudy throughout the day, the severity may not be as bad as it could be. There could still be strong thunderstorms with significant wind gusts, but they could be more isolated and not as widespread, he added.

If there are periods of sunshine, creating more instability in the system, the effects could be more widespread, Hovis said.

”That is the big question mark,” he said.

The weather service is reporting a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms tonight with the possibility of them turning severe with large hail and damaging winds. The low is expected to reach 72.

On Thursday, showers are likely with the possibility of a thunderstorm in the afternoon with an 80 percent chance of precipitation. The high is expected to reach near 78.

Thursday, there will be a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms before 7 p.m., then a slight chance of showers between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. with a 20 percent chance of precipitation, the weather service reported. It is expected to be partly cloudy, with a low around 58.

By Friday, it is expected to be mostly sunny, with a high near 80.

County emergency officials said plans are in place to mobilize personnel to address any needs that could arise from a severe storm, said Carl Sizemore, deputy director of Wood County Emergency Services.

Those plans could include calling in additional dispatchers, putting the county’s mobile command vehicle into service if personnel need to go out to a hard-hit area, monitor any power outages and be ready to offer services, Sizemore said.

”Also if we have heavy rain, we will monitor river and creek levels in the event of flash flooding,” he said.

Residents in rural areas may rely on electricity to operate their wells. If the electricity is knocked out, they will require help with water and other needs.

Sizemore is not sure if things will get to the level of last year’s derecho where there was widespread power outages and other challenges, but it is best to be ready.

”It is good to be prepared,” he said.