Winter storms cancel events, more snow for weekend

Jan. 17—Nearly five inches of snow blanketed the county starting Sunday night into Tuesday, creating hazardous roadways and the cancelation of numerous events and meetings.

Frigid temperatures on Monday added to the havoc of the winter storm, with emergency services warning residents to stay inside and not travel on the roadways. City and county law enforcement took pictures of various roadways, showing the hazardous conditions during the storm.

Alex Vorst, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, said snowfall in Laurel County averaged between four to five inches over Sunday and Monday, and more is expected on Thursday and Friday.

"We're seeing snow on Thursday morning into the afternoon," he said. "That could be a wintry mix of snow, freezing rain and sleet, turning back into snow as the temperatures drop on Thursday night. That should stay as snow into Friday morning."

However, another blast of arctic air is expected to move into the area over the weekend.

"We have a cold air mass moving in early in the weekend, but it should be warmer early next week, with mostly rain," Vorst continued. "We'll see temperatures about 30 degrees warmer than we've seen this week."

The extended forecast shows warmer temperatures next week, with mostly rain moving in next Tuesday.

"We could see snow into Sunday with temperatures in the 30s and in the mid-40s on Monday," he said.

For Laurel County residents, the roadways were indeed treacherous, despite efforts of county road crews to clear the rural areas.

"We had 25 guys out starting at 6 a.m. Monday and working until 8 p.m. that night," said Laurel County Judge Executive David Westerfield. "They were back out at 6 a.m. Tuesday and working until 8 p.m., then are going back out at 6 on Wednesday."

Westerfield said the county road crew had used approximately 600 tons of salt thus far, costing the county around $70,000. Add that to overtime pay for the road crews and the first snowstorm of 2024 will cost the county around $100,000.

"We have crews out scraping the roads and spreading salt, but the salt doesn't work unless the temperatures are in the 20s and we've not reached that," he said. "The salt we put out on Monday was just scraped away on Tuesday when they scraped again and put down new salt."

Westerfield said the county was well stocked with salt to handle inclement weather.

"We have salt in the county storage and we have around 200 tons stored at the state garage that we can use. That should cover us for this snow and the weekend snow. After that, we have more salt coming in on Tuesday."

Westerfield added that the new supply will be on hand should another snowstorm hit, despite predictions of warmer temperatures for next week.

"You have to be prepared, no matter what," he said. "We don't know what Mother Nature is going to do, so we just plan ahead and have salt stocked up, just in case."