CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Public schools closed in all 55 counties and shelters opened across West Virginia as frigid, dense air known as a "polar vortex" sent temperatures plunging on Monday.
Following a relatively balmy Sunday of 40-degree and 50-degree weather, temperatures dropped into the 20s on Monday and were expected to fall to single digits or below zero Monday night.
"For most of the state, this is going to be the coldest temperatures we've seen since February 1996," said Greg Guillot, general forecaster with the National Weather Service in Charleston.
Wind chill warnings were in effect across the state from Monday afternoon to Tuesday afternoon. Wind chills of minus 20 to minus 30 degrees were expected in many areas.
Conditions could be even more frigid in higher elevations. The temperature at Snowshoe, 4,711 feet above sea level, was expected to fall to between minus 20 and minus 25 degrees Monday night, with a potential wind child of minus 50, Guillot said.
"It's going to be brutal up there," he said.
Snow and cold on Monday prompted public schools in all 55 counties to close. Classes on Tuesday at Davis & Elkins College and live greyhound racing at Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack were cancelled, along with a West Virginia Ethics Commission training session on ethics in Beckley.
The frigid weather hampered efforts by Appalachian Power crews to restore electricity to about 7,800 customers affected by outages Sunday night. Most of the weather-related outages were in Kanawha and Putnam counties, Appalachian Power spokesman Phil Moye said.
"Customer demand is high and when power's been out and we try to bring it back on, the demand for heaters and electrical appliances sometimes can overload a line and cause it to go back out," he said.