CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Flooding on the Ohio River (search) damaged hundreds of homes and businesses Friday, a soggy calling card left by the winter storm that had brought miserable conditions across much of the central and northeastern United States.
Schools were closed in river towns in both West Virginia and Ohio, and the historic National Road was underwater in Wheeling, where the Ohio crested Friday at 6 feet above flood stage. Flood levels were expected to remain until Saturday afternoon.
The flooding came as temperatures warmed after a deadly storm crossed from the Plains into New England this week. Many schools and colleges across the region remained shuttered Friday over fears of slick roads or a lack of electricity. About 250,000 customers were still in the dark Friday in Indiana, Ohio and Kansas.
A pair of storms, meanwhile, moved in on the West Coast, bringing fears of more beach-eroding high tides and dangerous mudslides.
In Marietta, Ohio — across the Ohio River and about 70 miles downstream from Wheeling — shopkeepers stacked sandbags in front of their doors and moved goods off the floors before the expected high-water mark arrived overnight.
"It's not a ghost town, but there are no businesses open that I'm aware of," emergency official Mike Cullums said.
Damage appeared heavy on Wheeling Island, home to 1,000 homes and businesses and a stadium, county emergency officials said. A few hundred homes also had water damage in New Cumberland, about 30 miles north, emergency officials said.
Problems were less severe than in September, when the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan spawned flooding and mudslides, the officials said.
Since this storm began its eastward trek, messy roads have been blamed in at least 17 traffic deaths, including nine in Oklahoma, and at least three people died in Michigan while shoveling snow.
In Nebraska, a man's body was found Thursday as authorities searched for a young couple who had become lost in a snowstorm. Relatives of Michael Wamsley, 20, said they had been told the body was his. The search resumed Friday for his girlfriend, Janelle Hornickel, also 20. Officials in McDonald County, Mo., also continued hunting Friday, for a couple missing since their car was apparently swept from the road in a flash flood.
In the West, a regional winter storm warning was extended through Monday, and chains or snow tires were required on most mountain passes near the Nevada-California line. The Lake Tahoe (search) region could receive up to 8 feet of new snow, forecasters said. Even residents in Henderson south of Las Vegas woke up to a rare dusting of snow.
Road crews in California cleared an overnight mudslide north of Ventura on Friday, and cars spun out along the rain-slickened Ventura Freeway.
A second storm was expected to move south through Washington and Oregon before reaching California on Friday night, and dry weather was not anticipated in California until the middle of next week.