CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice has issued a State of Preparedness for all 55 counties in West Virginia ahead of severe weather that could be packed with heavy rainfall and high winds.
The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch for the northern part of the state from late Thursday night through Saturday afternoon.
John Peck, meteorologist with the NWS in Charleston, told MetroNews winds could get up to 30-40 miles per hour and the rain could lead to localized flooding.
“I think if we’re going to flood in Charleston it will probably be during the day Friday night into Saturday,” Peck said. “The more substantial risk will be up to the north where substantial swaths of rain will fall between 1.5 to 2.5 inches.”
The National Weather Service is calling for severe weather conditions over the next several days, so I’ve declared a State of Preparedness for all 55 counties. Please take this potentially hazardous weather seriously and plan accordingly.
— Governor Jim Justice (@WVGovernor) March 23, 2023
Peck said the biggest impact will be to rivers, creeks and streams where excessive runoff may result in high water. He said those bodies of water may rise out of their banks.
“We’ll have smaller creeks and streams coming up quickly with the vegetation still relatively dormant. A lot of this rain that fall will just run off directly into the drainages,” Peck said.
West Virginia will be on the southern end of the storm system which is set to pass through the state Thursday night.
The State of Preparedness allows the state Emergency Management Division to position personnel and resources for quick response to any emergency that may develop.
Gov. Justice is urging residents to take potential storm seriously and have a safety plan in place.
A Flood Watch has been expanded across portions of SE OH and N WV for heavy rain associated with showers and thunderstorms. Sharp rises on smaller drainages are expected Friday into Saturday with mainstem rivers rising Saturday into Sunday. #WVwx #KYwx #OHwx pic.twitter.com/Gdx0HoYNCH
— NWS Charleston, WV (@NWSCharlestonWV) March 23, 2023
Peck said the biggest piece of advice when driving is to slow down and turn around if you encounter high water.
“If you’re out there traveling Friday night, especially Saturday, if you see water on the roadways, just turn around, don’t drown,” he said.