A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Winter storm has state on high alert, with more on the way; officals urge limiting travel when possible


By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

State officials are urging Kentuckians to limit travel as much as possible due to the current winter storm as well as one that is forecast for Wednesday into Thursday.

During a Monday morning press briefing, Gov. Andy Beshear said, “The roads are already dangerous in places. So, if you have to be out, I hope you are taking extra time, I hope you have reduced speed and I hope you are being very, very careful. These storms will affect most of the commonwealth with potentially dangerous conditions much of this week.”

Scenes like this fallen tree blocking a road are already common in parts of Kentucky with more winter storms forecast. (Photo from Fleming-Mason Energy).

He said he hoped everyone has prepared for the storm, “whether that is to work virtually, and/or the need to potentially heat your home if you lose power.”

The governor said the Kentucky National Guard has been alerted “and our soldiers are standing by with equipment, ready to assist if necessary. In fact, we have just had to stand up our first unit in Ashland, who will be going door-to-door to check on those who are more remote and have lost power. We will be transporting people to warming stations, if necessary.”

He also said the state of emergency he issued last week due to that winter storm remains in effect.

The weather also caused the postponement of Tuesday’s COVID-19 vaccinations at the state’s new Kroger regional center in Frankfort. The other regional Kroger sites are not affected at this time, because they won’t be vaccinating until Thursday. Those whose vaccinations were postponed in Frankfort will have them at the same time on the following Tuesday.

Kentucky Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett says he has been in constant contact with the National Weather Service regarding the impact on the state. ”This storm will impact most of our counties and should be considered a very dangerous system. You can expect sleet, freezing rain, ice and very heavy snowfall, with snow accumulation rates of one to two inches per hour.”

As a result, the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Frankfort has raised their staffing level to deal with the weather. He added, the NWS says the storm later in the week promises more of the same as the current one, with more trees and wires down, leading to increased power outages.

Transportation Secretary Jim Gray, who oversees the state highway department’s snow-fighting efforts, noted, “This is going to be a very challenging week for everyone.”

Snowplows have been concentrating on the “A” priority routes, which include interstates, parkways and major roads in each county, according to Gray, who described an unusual situation in the area served by the Pikeville District office.

“For the first time in memory, our chief engineer, Mary Westfall-Holbrook, reports that they had to pull back their trucks from ‘B’ and ‘C’ routes because of ice-covered roads. Even with our highly skilled drivers, trucks were running into guardrails and sliding into ditches.”

Gray also said predicted snowfall of 1-2 inches per hour will hamper their efforts, “At that rate, the roadway will be covered with snow again almost nearly as quickly as it has been plowed. This will exceed our capacity to keep roadways completely clear.”

He added the Transportation Cabinet has 2,000 people with over a thousand pieces of equipment working to clear the roads, supplemented by 400 contract plow operators.


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