Kentucky snow: Caution urged on roads as snow storm hits Central, Eastern KY

Alex Slitz/aslitz@herald-leader.com
·5 min read

Another winter storm hit the region late Sunday as freezing rain and sleet turned to snow in Eastern and Central Kentucky in the afternoon.

Accumulation amounts were expected to vary greatly in different areas of the state. The National Weather Service indicated Sunday that snow accumulations could reach 6 to 8 inches in several areas, including Ashland, Jackson and London.

Late Sunday, the city of Lexinton canceled its annual Martin Luther King Freedom March scheduled for Monday morning due to the storm.

“The committee acted out of an abundance of caution,” the city said in a news release. “Roads are slick and freezing over. Organizers were not only concerned about the route of the march, but also about the condition of the roads participants would use to get to and from the event.”

Chris Bailey, chief meteorologist for WKYT, said the amounts could be even higher in some or all of Lewis, Greenup, Boyd, Carter, Elliott and Lawrence counties. Accumulation in parts of those counties could range from 5 to 10 inches, Bailey said in his forecast.

“As always with major winter storms, public safety is our top concern and our top priority,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in a news release Sunday. “The single most important and effective way to stay safe in extreme winter conditions is to strictly limit travel and remain at home as long as possible.”

Lexington officials said Sunday afternoon they were expecting to get 4 inches of precipitation on top of what had already fallen around 2 p.m. The snowfall in Lexington was likely to be wet, heavy snow, officials said.

Precipitation in Central Kentucky on Sunday morning was mostly sleet, but it turned to heavy snow in the afternoon.

The National Weather Service in Louisville indicated that road conditions were “mostly wet” late Sunday morning but bridges and overpasses were slick or slushy.

In a tweet, Gov. Andy Beshear said Sunday that he wanted Kentucky residents to “stay weather aware” as the heaviest precipitation was likely to come between noon and 6 p.m.

Previous forecasts from the National Weather Service had projected up to 6 inches of snow in parts of Kentucky.

Much of the southern, central and eastern regions of the state were under a winter storm warning Sunday starting at 11 a.m., according to the National Weather Service. That warning was expected to end early Monday morning. Some of the state was also under a winter weather advisory.

The snowfall would be “heavy, wet” accumulation with sleet and freezing rain possibly mixed in, according to the National Weather Service.

Road safety a concern in Kentucky snow storm

Lexington road maintenance crews pre-treated roads in Lexington in preparation for Sunday’s snow, according to the city. The city said it had refilled its salt barns following the last winter storm and was expecting to be able to treat roads more efficiently due to lighter traffic on Sunday.

Lexington and other parts of the state are not far removed from a winter storm which brought in more than 9 inches of snow just over a week ago.

“Travel is not advised during snowfall unless absolutely necessary,” city officials said in a news release. “If you must be on the road during inclement weather, remember to drive slowly, increase your following distance and allow extra time to reach your destination.”

State road crews had also prepared for the incoming winter weather in Central and Eastern Kentucky. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet road crews and contractors reported for duty Sunday morning and treated roads as need while they were patrolling, officials said in a news release.

“Our Transportation Cabinet crews are prepared and working hard but need the public’s help and cooperation. That means not driving unless it’s absolutely essential,” Transportation Secretary Jim Gray said.

In Madison County, the Richmond Police Department warned residents to use caution once snow started accumulating.

“Officers are reporting very slick roads and streets,” the police department said in a tweet. “Travel only if absolutely necessary and don’t forget to buckle up.”

Officials in Laurel County reported traffic accidents as all roads in the county became snow covered Sunday, according to the sheriff’s office.

“Please limit travel to necessity only,” Deputy Gilbert Acciardo said. “Wrecks (are) occurring.”

Officials in the county eventually had to shut down I-75 southbound near the 47 mile marker because vehicles couldn’t get up the hill, according to Kentucky State Police.

Power outages in southern, Central Kentucky

The winter weather did appear to cause power outages Sunday evening into Sunday night. About 6,000 customers were without power across the state, according to poweroutage.us, a website which tracks outages across the United States.

Laurel County had more than 1,800 outages, Whitley County had more than 900, McCreary County had nearly 600, Monroe and Pulaski counties had more than 300, Lee and Knox counties had more than 200 and Cumberland, Clay and Jessamine counties each had more than 100, according to poweroutage.us. Several other counties also had outages which were fewer than 100.

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