White Christmas unlikely as rivers near crest

PARKERSBURG – Despite high hopes and dreams, this year there will not be a white Christmas in the Mid-Ohio Valley, according to the National Weather Service in Charleston.

“I would say there is a very low chance,” said meteorologist Tim Axford.

There is a potential for snow flurries throughout today but the precipitation is expected to move out of the area by the evening with no accumulation.

“There is no chance of precipitation into Christmas,” Axford said. “We will have cold, though.”

Although temperatures throughout the past weekend reached unseasonable high 60s and low 70s, the cold front which moved into the area Monday has brought below freezing temperatures.

The high today is expected to be in the high 20s and Wednesday in the mid 30s.

It is not unusual for the Mid-Ohio Valley to have a green Christmas. Axford blamed the river valley for keeping the fluffy white stuff away.

“Unfortunately, we get governed by the warm air that gets stuck into the valley,” he said. “We call it the warm wedge because the warm air gets stuck against the mountains and it takes a while to move out of the area.”

Because of this “warm wedge,” a white Christmas only occurs about 10 percent of the time in the area, according to Axford.

In fact, the last three white Christmas mornings in the Mid-Ohio Valley were in 2010, 1993 and 1989.

Along with no snow are strange temperatures, according to the National Weather Service in Charleston’s website (www.srh.noaa.gov/).

In Parkersburg, the record high for Christmas day was in 1982 when it reached 70 degrees. The record low was the following year when the thermometer hit 10 below.

In 1963, Parkersburg saw the most snow on the ground at dawn Christmas morning with five inches.

With no snow, areas along water, including the Muskingum and Ohio rivers, will see high water after the recent rains, Axford said.

“There are no real issues expected from the high water as the Muskingum is starting to go down near McConnelsville and Beverly,” he said.

The Ohio River at Marietta may hit 30 feet but is not expected to creep much past that with a crest today and then falling into Christmas.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office plans to keep an eye on potential flooding areas as high water from surrounding rivers and streams makes its way downstream, said Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks.

“There are several of the low water areas we check,” he said.

As of Monday at noon, four roads were impassable or partly blocked, he said. Main Street in Macksburg, Jett Hill Road at County Road 9, and Caywood Road at Stanleyville Road were all covered. Hills Bridge Road at Zion Ridge Road was halfway blocked, said Mincks.