A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Season’s first major winter event leaves vast majority of Kentucky’s schools closed; more coming Friday

If you’re reading this in a Kentucky public school system that is open Wednesday, you are in rare company.

The ongoing storm that began in southern and western Kentucky has closed at least 163 of the state’s 173 public school systems, according to announcements posted on news media websites tracked by the KSBA eNews Service.

Schools closed

The closings stretch from the Missouri/Illinois/Kentucky border up to Ohio, across central Kentucky and down the West Virginia border to Tennessee state line. A few of the remaining districts reported delayed openings.

This is by far the largest number of Kentucky districts shuttered this winter, which to date had been fairly mild.

A number of districts are reported to be utilizing the state Department of Education’s nontraditional instruction day options, according to notices given to regional media outlets.

A second, heavier winter storm is being forecast for much of the state beginning early Friday morning.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) crews reported early Wednesday morning to combat the latest round of widespread snow across the Commonwealth.

Large bands of snow blanketed several portions of Kentucky roadways, which created slick and hazardous driving conditions for the morning commute. The majority of roads across western, central and southcentral Kentucky remain partially or completely covered. Maintenance professionals in the eastern and northeastern portions of the state continue to treat and monitor the roadways as the storm moves east. Crews have been working around the clock to keep routes passable.

During snow and ice event, the Transportation Cabinet may field 1,000 snow plows and 432 contractors with plows but has responsibility for 63,000 lane miles of roadway.

Snow removal efforts are initially focused on interstates and other major routes. Crews tend to secondary and rural roads once main routes have been cleared. To view the priority network for snow removal, go to http://transportation.ky.gov/Maintenance/Pages/Snow-and-Ice-Priority-Maps.aspx and select a county.

This year, the Cabinet has incorporated GPS technologies on snow plow and salt trucks that will monitor and track snow removal activities. The tracking capability is limited to certain portions of the state and not all trucks are equipped with the technology. To view the latest snow and ice response information, visit http://511.ky.gov/winteractivities/main.jsf .

Conditions are expected to improve today with rising temperatures and higher volumes of traffic that will work the salt into the precipitation. The Cabinet, however, cautions motorists to drive carefully this evening as low temperatures may cause roadways to refreeze.

The cabinet also reminds motorists to follow these simple tips:

— Exercise greater caution when driving. Slow down.

— Be prepared for slick conditions.

— Give a wide berth to snow plows and other heavy highway equipment.

— Eliminate distractions while behind the wheel.

The cabinet’s SAFE Patrol is available to assist motorists whose vehicles become disabled on Kentucky interstates and parkways. For SAFE Patrol assistance, call 511 or toll-free at 1-877-FOR-KYTC (1-877-367-5982).

From KSBA, Transportation Cabinet Communications

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