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Posted January 31, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Severe weather pattern hits region

Shenandoah public schools closed today due to flooding

By Joe Beck

The Northern Shenandoah Valley braced for the possibility of heavy rains, thunderstorms and high winds Wednesday through early this morning as a fierce storm brewed in the Mississippi Valley and headed east. At least one county public school system - Shenandoah County - is closed today due to flooding.

The storm was expected to chase the balmy temperatures of the last few days out of the region and usher in an abrupt return to wintry temperatures.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch through late Wednesday with a wind advisory until 6 a.m. today. Showers and a possible thunderstorm were forecast before midnight followed by more rain between midnight and 4 a.m. The chance of precipitation was pegged at nearly 100 percent with rainfall amounts of 1 or 2 inches possible.

The forecast also called for wind gusts from the south that could reach 50 mph Wednesday with steady westerly winds of 15 to 20 mph after midnight accompanied by gusts reaching 35 mph.

The skies are expected to turn sunny today, but temperatures are forecast to plummet to 37 degrees in the afternoon with west winds blowing at 22 mph.

"It looks like the worst will be out later tonight," National Weather Service meteorologist Christopher Strong said Wednesday.

Sandy Myers, communications director with the Staunton office of the Virginia Department of Transportation, warned of the risk of flash floods and urged drivers to stay clear of roads with water running across their surfaces.

"You don't know the speed of the water that's there and how deep it is, and you don't know if the road beneath has been washed away," she said.

Myers said VDOT crews would be checking roads for flooding.

J. Michael Aulgur, a spokesman for Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, said a few outages reported early Wednesday were unrelated to the weather.

"Crews will be ready to respond accordingly should outages occur and our members need their services restored," he said.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com

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