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Heavy snows shut down roads

Sheriff urges caution as roads remain icy

By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

Heavy snows last Thursday – from five to eight inches across Carter County – shut down state and county roads throughout the region, with some remaining impassable into the weekend.

The snow, predicted to hit around noon, came about two hours earlier than expected leaving some drivers scrambling to make it home before roads became impassable and stranding others.

Allen Blair, with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, District 9, issued a release Thursday afternoon advising drivers to “please stay home… as a strong winter storm blankets northeast Kentucky in slick arctic snow.”

With air temperatures around 20 degrees, pavement temperatures were reported at “32 to 35 degrees and falling,” resulting in snow accumulation that would not melt away. Although the KTC “(had) all plows on roads” the salt spread on the roads was unable to keep them clear due to the heavy accumulation.

More than 75 snow plows, Blair reported, worked 12-hour overnight shifts, attempting to keep emergency routes clear and spreading “more than 20,000 tons of salt” along “2,000 miles of northeast Kentucky highways.”

By Friday morning KTC was reporting the “plow crews made some road-clearing progress,” but, they noted, “conditions remain(ed) hazardous” and travel was still not advised except in emergency situations.

Temperatures had dropped precipitously overnight, to around 12 degrees, “rendering salt mostly ineffective,” Blair reported. While trucks continued to plow and salt – and temperatures rose into the 20s allowing the salt to do some of its work – road temperatures remained below freezing due to snow cover.

The heavy snow resulted in a declaration of a state of emergency as schools and city and county government facilities shuttered for the day, and alerts were issued limiting motorist to essential travel only.

It wasn’t until temperatures rose above freezing on Saturday that roads began clearing, and even then they remained snow and ice covered in some sections, keeping travel on county and secondary roads hazardous.

Heavy rains on Sunday helped melt away more of the snow, but brought with it its own problems as overnight temperatures created slick ice spots where water collected and froze on roadways, and treacherous black ice threatened drivers who didn’t take the risk seriously.

Carter County sheriff Jeff May took to social media over the weekend to advise drivers to be careful of black ice as they began to resume normal travel patterns, and to take extra time to reach their destinations.

Slick spots are expected to remain in wet and shaded areas as night time temperatures continue to hover in the 20s and lower through the rest of the week, with a 30 percent chance of snow reported by the National Weather Service for Friday night, and a mixture of snow and rain a possibility into Saturday morning. The snow and rainfall is expected to continue into the evening, turning into snow after midnight, with chances of precipitation over the weekend ranging from 60 to 70 percent.

For the latest forecast, visit forecast.weather.gov online.

To learn more about snow removal, including priority routes, you can visit SnowKY.ky.gov. For real time traffic information, visit GoKY.ky.gov.

You can also find reports from KTC District 9 by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com



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