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Video, updates: Justice delivers pandemic briefing at 11 a.m.

We’ll provide updates here about how West Virginia is dealing with the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

State officials have directed members of the public to a landing page dedicated to information about coronavirus in West Virginia.

Additional information can be found at CDC’s Situation Summary or at DHHR’s COVID-19 information hotline, 1-800-887-4304.

8:29 a.m. 07/27/2021 Justice provides update about pandemic response at 11 a.m.

11:03 a.m. 07/22/2021 Governor Justice scheduled for 11 a.m. pandemic briefing

12:38 p.m. 07/20/2021 Governor Justice to lead pandemic update at 1 p.m. 

10:06 a.m. 7/16/2021 Governor to lead pandemic briefing at 1 p.m.

11 a.m. 7/13/2021 Governor to lead pandemic briefing at 11 a.m.

10:35 a.m. 7/8/2021 Governor to lead pandemic briefing at 10:30

11:25 a.m. 7/6/2021  Governor to lead pandemic briefing at 11:30

9:24 a.m. 7/1/2021 Governor to lead pandemic briefing at 11 a.m. 

8:53 a.m. 6/29/2021 Justice to lead pandemic briefing at 10:30

12:20 p.m.  06/24/2021   Justice pandemic briefing set for 12:30 p.m. 

10:55 a.m.  06/22/2021   Justice pandemic briefing set for 11:30 a.m.

10:50 a.m. 6/17/2021  Justice pandemic briefing set for 11 a.m.

11:05 a.m. 6/15/2021 Justice pandemic briefing scheduled for 11 a.m. 

7:40 a.m. 6/10/2021 Justice waits outside development announcement because of covid exposure

Gov. Jim Justice offered video greetings from his vehicle at an economic development announcement in Morgantown on Wednesday with the governor saying he’d had an unanticipated covid-19 exposure.

Justice has been very public about his full vaccination but said he wanted to set a good example by remaining in the vehicle. Otherwise, he said, he would have needed a rapid test and a mask.

He appeared via streaming video and offered remarks at an announcement for an artificial intelligence company getting established in Morgantown. Clay Marsh, West Virginia University’s executive dean for health sciences, made the opening remarks as a substitute for Justice.

Dr. Clay Marsh

“He would be here standing in my place had it not been for a very unexpected exposure that he had recently to somebody who tested positive for covid-19,” said Marsh, who is also the state’s coronavirus response coordinator.

“And even though the governor is aware that he is fully vaccinated, he is really 100 percent protected against having any kind of problem with this — even with that understanding, and he does understand that well, given his experience we’ve all had with covid-19, he wanted to make sure he was working with an abundance of concern.”

Justice then appeared on a screen for everyone to see, wearing a checked shirt and leaning over to talk into a camera, with the interior roof of the vehicle as his backdrop.

“I landed here about an hour ago. I’m sitting out in the parking lot in front of you right now. I mean, I could throw a rock and hit all of you,” Justice said. “I hate like crazy that I’m out here in the parking lot. Believe me be.”

Offering some background, Justice said he had experienced a covid exposure on Friday and was informed about it on Wednesday.

“When I landed they told me I was exposed on Friday evening to someone. They told me they felt like I needed to be tested. And if that be the case, I don’t think I need to be in there until we know the results of the test. But I’m sure it’s fine. I feel fine, and I hate like crazy I’m not with you.”

7:37 a.m. 6/10/2021 Justice leads briefing about pandemic response at 2 p.m. 

10:20 a.m. 6/8/2021  Justice leads pandemic briefing at 10:30 a.m.

9:23 a.m. 6/3/2021 Justice leads pandemic briefing at 10:30 a.m.

9:22 a.m. 6/1/2021 Justice leads pandemic briefing at 10:30 a.m. 

1:59 p.m. 5/27/2021 Justice leads pandemic briefing at 4:30 p.m.

10:20 a.m. 5/25/2021  Justice leads briefing about pandemic response at 10:30 a.m.

12:30 p.m. 5/20/2021 Justice leads briefing about pandemic response at 1:20 p.m. 

12:19 p.m. 5/17/2021 Justice leads pandemic update at 1 p.m.

10:32 a.m. 5/14/2021 Justice leads pandemic update at noon

11:45 a.m.  5/12/2021  Justice leads pandemic update

10:25 a.m. 5/10/2021  Justice leads pandemic update 

9:29 a.m. 5/7/2021 Justice leads pandemic update at 11:30 a.m.

9:16 a.m. 5/5/2020 Justice leads noon briefing about covid response

8:04 a.m. 5/3/2020 Justice provides latest on pandemic response at 11 a.m.

8:04 a.m. 4/30/2020 Justice leads pandemic briefing at 10:30 a.m. 

11:05 a.m. 4/28/2021 Pandemic briefing by Justice at 2:45 p.m. 

12:45 p.m. 4/26/2021  Justice to lead pandemic briefing at 1 p.m.

7:59 a.m. 4/23/2021 Justice to lead pandemic briefing at 11 a.m.

11:55 a.m. 4/21/2021  Justice to address pandemic response at noon

11:55 a.m. 4/19/2021  Justice to address pandemic response at noon.

10:25 a.m. 4/16/2021  Justice to address pandemic response at 10:30 a.m.

10:25 a.m.  4/14/2021  Justice to address pandemic response at 10:30 a.m.

11:54 a.m. 4/12/2021 Justice to address pandemic response at noon 

11:35 a.m.  4/09/2021  Justice to have back to back briefings beginning at noon (income tax/COVID)

10:15 a.m.  4/07/2021  Justice briefing at 10:30 a.m.

10:15 a.m.  4/05/2021  Justice briefing at 10:30 a.m.

10:15 a.m.  4/02/2021   Justice briefing at 10:30 a.m.

10:15 a.m.  3/29/2021  Justice briefing at 10:30 a.m.

8:30 a.m.  3/26/2021  Justice briefing at 9 a.m.

10:30 a.m.  3/24/2021  Justice briefing at 11:00 a.m.

10:15 a.m.  3/22/2021  Justice briefing at 11:00 a.m.

10:20 a.m. 3/19/2021  Justice briefing 10:30 a.m.

10:45 a.m. 3/17/2021  Justice briefing 10:45 a.m.

11:15 a.m.  3/15/2021  Justice briefing at 11:30 a.m.

10:45 a.m. 3/12/2021 Justice briefing at 11:00 a.m.

10:30 a.m. 3/10/2021  Justice briefing set for 11:00 a.m.

10:15 a.m. 3/8/2021  Justice briefing set for 10:30 a.m.

10:55 a.m. 3/5/2021  Justice briefing set for 11:00 a.m.

This briefing was originally scheduled for 10:30 a.m. but now has been shifted to 11


10:32 a.m. 2/19/2021 Justice leads briefing at 10:30 a.m. 

6:52 a.m. 2/17/2021 Justice leads briefing at 10:30 a.m. 

9:30 a.m. 2/15/2021 Justice leads briefing at 10:30 

9:03 a.m. 2/12/2021 Justice to lead briefing at noon

9:30 a.m. 2/10/21 Justice to lead briefing at 11 a.m.

11:58 a.m. 2/8/21 Justice to lead briefing at noon 

9:48 a.m.  2/5/21 Justice to lead briefing at 11:30 

11:05 a.m.  2/3/21 Justice to lead briefing at noon 

9:34 a.m. Justice to lead briefing at noon 

10:34 a.m. 1/29/21 Justice to lead briefing at noon

9:39 a.m. 1/27/21 Manchin applauds federal effort to increases vaccine supply

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released a statement about the announcement from the Biden Administration about increasing the weekly supply of COVID-19 vaccinations to states and territories next week. The administration will also increase transparency by giving states a three week forecast of vaccine supplies.

“Today’s announcement by the Biden Administration shows that help is on the way. I thank President Biden for staying true to his word and delivering more vaccine so quickly and will continue to work closely with him to further increase our allocation. West Virginia is leading the country in efficiently and safely distributing the COVID-19 vaccine. Clinics across our state have been operating below capacity because of the vaccine shortage. Now President Biden will ship out at least 10 million doses each week to get more shots in arms as soon as possible. Today’s announcement from the Biden Administration is another step closer to ensuring every West Virginian who wants a vaccine can get one, restoring our economy, and getting back to life as usual. In the last week, I have spoken with President Biden and multiple White House officials who have assured me the number one priority for the Administration is quickly producing and efficiently distributing the vaccine. I’m glad to see them put their money where their mouth is and ramp up vaccine distribution.”

9 a.m. 1/25/21 Justice plans 11 a.m. briefing 

12:07 p.m. 1/21/21 Justice plans noon briefing 

9:56 a.m. 1/19/2021 Justice plans 11 a.m. briefing 

8:51 a.m. 1/13/2021 Justice plans 10 a.m. briefing

here is the livestream

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) January 13, 2021

8:49 a.m. 1/11/2021 Justice plans noon briefing

here is the livestream

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) January 11, 2021

11:31 a.m. 1/8/2021 Justice plans noon briefing 

livestream here

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) January 8, 2021

7:54 a.m. 1/6/2021 Justice plans 11 a.m. briefing 

here is the livestream

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) January 6, 2021

6:59 a.m. 1/4/2021 Justice plans 11 a.m. briefing

here is the livestream

— Brad McElhinny (@BradMcElhinny) January 4, 2021

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Source: WV MetroNews

MetroNews This Morning 7-27-21

Closing arguments come today in the complicated opioid trial in Charleston. Oklahoma and Texas are officially headed out of the Big XII conference, so speculation continues over what happens to those left including WVU. Covid numbers are slowly climbing again in West Virginia, the Governor will have a briefing today at 11am. Discussions and public comment on redistricting of Congressional and Legislative boundaries gets started today. Kyle Wiggs has more on the Texas and Oklahoma moves and the latest in conference realignment on sports. Those stories and more in today’s MetroNews This Morning podcast.

Listen to “MetroNews This Morning 7-27-21” on Spreaker.

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UPDATE: Suspect apprehended in Charleston shooting death

UPDATE Tuesday 6 a.m.: Charleston Police say Christopher Smith was taken into custody early this morning in the Clendenin community. He’s being booked on murder and malicious wounding charges this morning and will be lodged in the South Central Regional Jail.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Charleston man is wanted for first-degree murder following a fatal shooting on Monday in the West Side section of the capital city.

Christopher Neil Smith

Charleston Police Department (CPD) said Christopher Neil Smith, 38, is wanted for first-degree murder and malicious wounding in a shooting that was reported around 12:15 p.m. in the 800 block of Stockton Street near the Family Dollar Store on West Washington Street.

Authorities arrived on scene to locate a first victim, Jay Jerome Henry Jr., 30 of Charleston, on the sidewalk in front of a residence with multiple gunshot wounds.

Upon further search of the area, officers located the second victim, Amanda Dawn Burdette, 35 of Charleston, inside an enclosed porch at the rear of the residence. Burdette sustained a gunshot wound to the chest. Both victims were transported to a local hospital.

Henry is currently in critical condition while Burdette was pronounced dead at the hospital.

CPD said upon further investigation, both victims were sitting in the enclosed porch when the Smith approached them. The victims and suspect got into an altercation over alleged stolen property. Smith then pulled out a firearm and shot both victims. Smith then fled the scene on foot, CPD said.

If anyone has any information regarding his whereabouts, contact the Criminal Investigation Division, 304-348-6480 or Metro Communications, 304-348-8111.

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Lyons releases statement on changing conference landscape

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU Director of Athletics Shane Lyons released the following statement Monday night in connection with the pending changes in the Big 12 Conference:

Shane Lyons

For the past nine years, West Virginia University has been a loyal member of the Big 12 Conference. We have valued the partnership with the other nine members and have served the league as a prestigious academic institution and a nationally recognized athletics program. We are disappointed that two of our Big 12 institutions have indicated their intent not to extend their media rights beyond 2025.

Good insight from Chris tonight.

— TonyCaridi (@TonyCaridi) July 26, 2021

West Virginia University’s top priority continues to be our student-athletes. We are focused on ensuring that we provide opportunities to elevate their academic and athletic experiences at WVU. However, in addition to our student-athletes, we also understand the impact this announcement has on our University, our state and our Mountaineer fans around the world. We will continue to be highly engaged and extremely diligent in finding connections that strengthen our academic mission and allow our student-athletes to thrive in one of the most successful athletics programs in the country.

WVU is proud to be a proven academic leader ranking at the highest level of research activity in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. In fact, we are among a select few that are land-grant, doctoral research universities with a comprehensive medical school. The University’s faculty are increasingly recognized for excellence, and our legacy of student achievement includes 25 Rhodes Scholars, 25 Truman Scholars, 46 Goldwater Scholars.

We also are proud that during these past nine years, our athletic programs have competed at the highest levels, winning multiple championships and crowning numerous student-athletes on the biggest stage of their respective sports. We have excelled in the classroom and built an infrastructure that is attracting elite student-athletes world-wide. We have created an atmosphere of Mountaineer hospitality, rooted in sportsmanship and fellowship. We thank each one of you for being a part of what makes Mountaineer Nation so special.

As was stated earlier by the Big 12 Conference, athletics is an ever-changing landscape. We look forward to working with our colleagues in the Big 12 and across the country to navigate this new terrain. Together, we will continue to Climb Higher!

Shane Lyons
Director of Athletics, Associate Vice President

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WVU updates coronavirus guidelines; students and faculty face Aug. 1 deadline to verify vaccination status

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University students and faculty who do not verify their vaccination status with the university by Aug. 1 will have to submit a valid coronavirus test result upon arriving on campus.

The institution on Monday announced updated coronavirus guidelines, including a reminder about updating one’s vaccination status online.

Individuals who do not submit their information must deliver a printed copy of a negative test result to a university health care professional within 48 hours of their arrival on campus. The university has set up three locations for people to drop off their information:

— College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences; Aug. 2-17 (Monday through Friday) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Aug. 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
— Mountainlair; Aug. 12-20 (Monday through Friday) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Aug. 14 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
— Health Sciences; Aug. 9-20 (Monday through Friday) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Aug. 14 between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Students and faculty who do not comply with coronavirus testing requirements may face discipline under university policies.

Students, faculty and staff who have verified their coronavirus vaccination status with the university will not be required to undergo additional coronavirus tests. They will also be exempt from random sample testing throughout the fall semester.

Students can verify their vaccination status at

People who are not fully vaccinated will be subject to random sample testing until they are fully vaccinated. They must also quarantine for at least 14 days after exposure to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus, obtain testing if symptoms develop, quarantine for five days following out-of-state travel, and wear a mask indoors and when outdoors around others.

The university also announced it is continuing to work with the Monongalia County Health Department to offer optional free coronavirus testing at the WVU Student Recreation Center. Testing will take place Mondays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon and Wednesdays from noon to 3 p.m. starting Aug. 2. No appointment is necessary.

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Lawmakers seek help from federal agency as Viatris closure looms

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As the first phase of the Viatris plant closure looms, state lawmakers have petitioned the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to declare the facility as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

Multiple lawmakers — including House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, and Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia — have sent letters in an attempt to keep the facility open.

The plant opened in 1965 with a focus on manufacturing various supplements and generic medications.

Viatris — the company formed between Mylan Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer subsidiary Upjohn —announced the closure last December as part of an international plan to cut costs. More than 1,400 employees at the Morgantown facility will lose their jobs once the closure process is complete, in which the first layoffs will take effect on Saturday.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency focuses on addressing national risks and coordinating resilience efforts.

“We’re talking about a mechanism to keep a private entity that’s otherwise capable of operating and providing goods and services that are necessary for the health and welfare of Americans in operation,” Hanshaw said.

Hanshaw said workers will likely have to move from Morgantown because of job opportunities elsewhere.

“If we let those facilities close and let the capacity erode and let the employee capacity dissipate and let the human talent move away, it’s difficult — if not almost impossible — to stand that back up,” he said.

According to Fleischauer, the facility has the potential to be a regional economic force under a different company.

“It has the ability to pivot for when there’s a need because they’ve made so many different types of compressed pills and capsules,” she said. “It’s especially valuable.”

State lawmakers during this year’s regular legislative session passed resolutions asking Gov. Jim Justice and federal officials to work on finding another operator or investor. Legislators also considered using coronavirus relief funds to entice a company into moving into the facility.

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Judge to hear closing arguments in opioid epidemic trial

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A trial that began nearly three months ago focused on the impact of the opioid epidemic in Huntington and surrounding areas enters its final stage Tuesday with the beginning of closing arguments.

U.S. District Judge David Faber

The plaintiffs, the City of Huntington and Cabell County, claim drug distributors AmerisourceBergen, McKesson and Cardinal Health, helped fuel the epidemic by dumping 100 million pills into the region over a decade.

The trial, which began May 3 before U.S. District Judge David Faber, has followed a consistent schedule, with only a few days taken off until a two-week break after all testimony had been submitted.

Faber has set aside 12 hours for closing arguments. The plaintiffs are expected to take three to four hours Tuesday followed by six hours from the defendants with a few hours left for rebuttal by the plaintiffs.

MetroNews legal analyst Harvey Peyton expects detailed closing arguments given the trial has been a bench trial and not a jury trial.

“It’s going to be more of a presentation of the overall elements of their case, a more intellectual, a more in-depth (presentation) than if you would have argued this case to a jury,” Peyton predicted.

Attorney Paul Farrell, representing Huntington, will deliver part of the closing argument. He also delivered the plaintiff’s opening statement on May 3.

He said then the case would be built on four main pillars including volume of pills, black flags the distributors should have noticed, the morphine molecule and the opioid epidemic.

Paul Farrell (Photo/WV Record)

Farrell said the “Big 3” had “notice, foreseeability, and acknowledgement” of a problem but they do very little about it.

“Instead of complying they sold more pills,” Farrell said.

During its opening statements, the distributors all said the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) controls the supply of drugs and their instructions were followed. The defense also pointed at budget decisions made by the City of Huntington to cut funding for law enforcement and a drug task force.

Huntington Fire Chief Jan Rader was among the dozens of witnesses called by the plaintiffs during the trial. Part of her testimony focused on drug overdoses.

“In 2012 it really skyrocketed,” Rader testified. “We were on opioid overdoses (calls) constantly and it continued to rise. No one is immune from it. I’ve seen victims from age 12 to 78. It is heartbreaking. There are no boundaries here.”

Jan Rader

She also told the judge about programs that have been established to help first responders who have had to deal with a lot of overdoses. Rader said the funding for those programs isn’t long-term.

“Most everything we’ve done is grant money. That’s start up money,” Rader told Faber. “This is going to take a long time. We need additional funding to keep programs going.”

Future funding is a big part of the plaintiff’s case.

Anthony Majestro

Another attorney for the plaintiffs, Anthony Majestro, said during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline” earlier this month the plaintiffs are satisfied with what they’ve given Faber to consider.

“I believe we put on a very strong case that these defendants who are distributors of opioids … violated their duties under the Controlled Substances Act,” Majestro said.

Peyton said it’s a causation case.

“There’s no question that the doctors prescribed them and they (the distributors) shipped them and there’s really no issue that there’s an opioid crisis–the question is–is the one connected to the other?”

Peyton said given the amount of testimony, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for Faber to take up to 60 days to render his decision.

Closing arguments are set to start at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Byrd Federal Courthouse in downtown Charleston.

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Texas and Oklahoma notify Big 12 they will not renew grant of media rights

As expected, Texas and Oklahoma are on their way out of the Big 12 Conference as they seek membership into the Southeastern Conference.

On Monday, a joint statement was released by both schools informing the Big 12 they will not renew the league’s grant of media rights following its expiration in 2025.

The statement read: The University of Oklahoma and The University of Texas at Austin notified the Big 12 Athletic Conference today that they will not be renewing their grants of media rights following expiration in 2025. Providing notice to the Big 12 at this point is important in advance of the expiration of the conference’s current media rights agreement. The universities intend to honor their existing grant of rights agreements. However, both universities will continue to monitor the rapidly evolving collegiate athletics landscape as they consider how best to position their athletics programs for the future.

While the statement suggests both schools will remain in the Big 12 for nearly the next four years (the grant of rights expires June 30, 2025), Texas and Oklahoma could reach a settlement with the Big 12 to leave earlier.

A statement released Monday afternoon by the Big 12 seemed to indicate it would hold the two schools to the lengths of their original agreements.

“Although our eight members are disappointed with the decisions of these two institutions, we recognize that intercollegiate athletics is experiencing rapid change and will most likely look much different in 2025 than it does currently,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. “The Big 12 Conference will continue to support our member institutions’ efforts to graduate student-athletes, and compete for Big 12 and NCAA championships. Like many others, we will use the next four years to fully assess what the landscape will look like in 2025 and beyond. The remaining eight institutions will work together in a collaborative manner to thoughtfully and strategically position the Big 12 Conference for continued success, both athletically and academically, long into the future.”

The grant of rights agreement signed by all Big 12 schools grants their media rights in football and men’s basketball to the conference, which has television contracts with ESPN and Fox that expire in 2025.

.@bradhowe07, MetroNews sports, joins @DaveWilsonMN on set to discuss what’s going on with the Big 12 conference realignment. WATCH:

— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) July 26, 2021

The future of the Big 12 is now in limbo, with the remaining eight schools — West Virginia, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas Tech — left to figure out their future.

Those schools could seek membership into another Power 5 Conference, but it remains to be seen if the ACC, Big Ten or Pac-12 opt for expansion.

The Big 12 could also look to keep the eight holdover schools and add others as it tries to stay afloat.

On Sunday, the Big 12’s Executive Committee, consisting of the league’s Board of Directors chairman and Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec and Baylor President Linda Livingstone and Commissioner Bob Bowlsby held a meeting by videoconference with Oklahoma President Joe Harroz and Texas President Jay Hartzell.

“The meeting was cordial, and the Executive Committee expressed a willingness to discuss proposals that would strengthen the Conference and be mutually beneficial to OU and UT, as well as the other member institutions of the Conference,” Bowlsby said. “I expect that we will continue our conversations in the days ahead and we look forward to discussing thoughts, ideas and concepts that may be of shared interest and impact.”

But the two schools, who reportedly began exploring a move to the SEC in December 2020, are set to bolt a conference they were original members of when it formed in 1994.

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National Weather Service launching ‘damage threat’ tags to Severe Thunderstorm Warnings

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Beginning Monday, Aug. 2, all branches of the National Weather Service will begin adding a “damage threat” tag to Severe Thunderstorm Warnings, to better convey the severity and potential impacts from thunderstorm winds and hail.

The National Weather Service (NWS) recently announced the development of three categories of damage threat for Severe Thunderstorm Warnings. The categories, in order of highest to lowest damage threat, are destructive, considerable, and base.

According to the NWS Charleston, these tags and additional messaging are designed to promote immediate action, based on the threats, and send out a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) for a Severe Thunderstorm Warning. The alerts, only used for destructive, would go to every cell phone much like a Tornado Warning or Amber Alert.

“That will set off wireless emergency alerts, which are the alerts built into everyone’s cell phones. We can really increase awareness of those high-end thunderstorms,” Tony Edwards, Warning Coordination Meteorologist for NWS Charleston told MetroNews.

The criteria for a destructive damage threat is at least 2.75 inch diameter (baseball-sized) hail and/or 80 mph thunderstorm winds. Warnings with this tag will automatically activate a WEA on smartphones within the warned area, according to the NWS.

The criteria for a considerable damage threat is at least 1.75 inch diameter (golf ball-sized) hail and/or 70 mph thunderstorm winds. This will not activate a WEA.

The criteria for a baseline or “base” severe thunderstorm warning remains unchanged, 1.00 inch (quarter-sized) hail and/or 58 mph thunderstorm winds. This will not activate a WEA. When no damage threat tag is present, the damage is expected to be at the base level.

Severe thunderstorms can be life-threatening, but not all severe storms are the same. Starting Aug 2, NWS will add a “damage threat” tag to Severe Thunderstorm Warnings, triggering Wireless Emergency Alerts for “destructive” storms.

— NWS Charleston, WV (@NWSCharlestonWV) July 26, 2021

According to the NWS, only 10 percent of all severe thunderstorms reach the destructive category each year, nationwide. Most of these storms are damaging wind events such as derechoes and some of the larger, more intense thunderstorms, called “Supercell” storms that can typically produce very large hail in their path.

“I don’t think we’re going to employ it very often around here because it is a really major storm that will get that tag. But it’s something that when we do have those major events, we can increase awareness,” Edwards said.

The NWS called the destructive thunderstorm category “needed” as it’s a life-threatening event

All NWS Severe Thunderstorm Warnings will continue to be issued and distributed via, NOAA Weather Radio, Emergency Alert System and through dissemination systems to its emergency managers and partners. The addition of damage threat tags are part of the broader Hazard Simplification Project to improve communication of watches and warnings to the public, according to a release.

Thirteen of the 22 costliest weather disasters in 2020 in the United States were severe thunderstorms, the NWS said.

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Options being weighed for facility needs in Lincoln County schools

GRIFFITHSVILLE, W.Va. — Lincoln County School Superintendent Jeff Kelley said a report from a structural engineer last week about the building that houses Duval Elementary and Middle School was not a complete surprise and his office had been preparing for just such an emergency.

Jeff Kelley

The system received word that the building in Griffithsville will be condemned for occupancy due to structural issues.

Kelley said he and his team had begun working on a contingency plan earlier this year when another part of the building was forced to close and the county feared the worst.

“We had a template and we weren’t flying blind. We’ve been working on this and we hope to have something ironed out by the end of the week, but it’s going to require the relocation of most of our students,” Kelley explained Monday.

A plus for county officials is the PK-2 grades are housed in a different building and will be unaffected by any changes. Kelley said his staff has to worry about new quarters for students in grades 3 through 8. He said they have identified three different facilities to house those students depending on where they live.

“We’re speculating at this point, but we think we’re going to use Midway Elementary in Alum Creek, Hamlin PK-8 in Hamlin and we’ll be able to use our county board office facility as well,” he said.

Kelley and his team are just finalizing the immediate fix, but he knows the long-term fix is potential consolidation and new schools. The idea hasn’t sold well in the past in Lincoln County.

“I think the board here long before I arrived attempted to build a new school but couldn’t’ get the support locally. But we’re going to have to get the support so we can not arrive at situations like this in the future,” he said.

The Lincoln County school district is currently operating under a state of emergency from the state Board of Education for different reasons.

The state board extended the emergency declaration for another six months in early June. The approved motion said the next review would focus on the effectiveness of the Lincoln County BOE.

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