Warmer weather in sight

PARKERSBURG – Cold weather continues throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley, with residents continuing to bundle up when they think of leaving the house.

But warmer temperatures are on the way.

Temperatures forecast to be as low as 5 degrees this morning prompted most area school systems to declare a two-hour delay today. By 8 p.m. Wednesday, 41 counties in West Virginia had called for a two-hour delay because of frigid temperatures expected in the morning.

Wood, Wirt, Jackson, Roane, Calhoun, Gilmer, Doddridge, Tyler and Ritchie counties in West Virginia, as well as Marietta City Schools in Ohio, had all announced two-hour delays as of Wednesday evening.

Today, temperatures will climb as high as 35 degrees, but wind chill values throughout the day will be as low as negative 3, preventing people from enjoying the warmer weather.

The cold has created extra work for employees of the Parkersburg Utility Board. Manager Eric Bennett said a crew spent most of the work day Tuesday repairing a water line break at 16th Avenue and Crescent Street.

“The equipment wasn’t finding it (the break), so they ended up having to dig up 20 to 30 foot of pipe,” he said.

They eventually found the problem- a bell connector that had given way- and were able to repair it.

A second leak Tuesday happened on an abandoned service line that had run to a demolished structure on Seventh Street. Then, around 5:30 or 6 p.m., city workers received a call about another break, this one at 16th Street and Stephenson Avenue.

“Straight break in the pipes; it was ground shifting” due to the weather, Bennett said.

That repair was delayed as workers had to make a hole in a catch basin placed over the line to get a clamp on it, he said. They finished around midnight.

On Wednesday, crews were back out again repairing a break to a 6-inch line near the city fire station on Blizzard Drive.

Belpre’s water lines have fared a little better, with water department crew foreman Bill Harpold saying they’ve only had one break last week during the recent cold spell.

“Most of our problems right now (are) residential lines,” he said.

The city will turn meters off if homeowners request it while they deal with broken and burst pipes.

Harpold and Bennett agreed there are more breaks on the horizon as temperatures warm and the ground shifts as it thaws.

“We’ll probably have, unfortunately, a larger rash of them when it warms up to 30, 40 degrees in the next couple of days,” Bennett said.

The Parkersburg Fire Department dealt with numerous water line breaks on Wednesday as well, said Capt. Tim Flinn.

One broken sprinkler line and one underground water line break in south Parkersburg kept fire crews busy, Flinn said.

“We anticipate these types of calls to increase as the frigid temperatures start to increase above freezing,” Flinn said.

The Parkersburg Fire Department is limited as to what it can do about water line ruptures, but will respond promptly to calls where fire and shock hazards exist because of the leaking water’s proximity to electric panels, Flinn said.

In the meantime, residents, building occupants and business owners should be aware of where their utility shut-offs are in case of an emergency, Flinn said.

Anyone who notices water running from streets or sidewalks is encouraged to report the leak to the local water department or fire department quickly so the leak can be dealt with, Flinn said.

Temperatures will drop back down to 20 degrees tonight, causing additional freezing problems, before rising to the low 30s on Friday.

Friday night will bring temperatures of 31 degrees and a chance of rain and sleet across the Mid-Ohio Valley. This will change over to a chance of rain on Saturday with an expected high of around 48 degrees.