Heavy snow, ice and strong winds complicating removal efforts
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 22, 2016) – Greeted by heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) snow and ice crews began operations early this morning to get ahead of the looming winter storm.
As predicted by the National Weather Service, much of lower half of Kentucky experienced sleet and freezing rain early Friday morning. The icy precipitation created slick, treacherous driving conditions for crews treating the roadways. By mid-morning, most of the freezing precipitation changed into heavy snow.
Currently, bands of heavy snow continue to blanket most parts of the Bluegrass with as much as 8 inches of snow accumulating in some areas. Other locations including Jackson, Pikeville and Bowling Green continue to see snow fall at a rate of 1-3 inches per hour. Whiteout conditions have been reported in many of these areas.
Transportation crews are having a difficult time keeping roads passable as the storm continue to dump large amounts of snow. Wind gusts of up to 35 mph have complicated matters by scattering fallen snow over freshly-plowed roadways. Other complications including downed trees, power outages, stranded motorists and jackknifed tractor trailers have been reported throughout the state.
As the storm lingers into Saturday, road conditions will continue to deteriorate rapidly. This evening, slush on roadways may refreeze as temperatures hover around the low-20’s. Crews will make several passes along high priority routes until they return to normal conditions.
In some cases, low volume rural routes will remain snow covered until the event has ended and crews are able to clear the backlog of effected roadways. Motorists should prepare for limited mobility along these routes and remain off the roadways until they are passable.
During snow and ice events, 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.
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.
If travel cannot be avoided, motorists are advised to slow down, buckle up, rid themselves of distractions such as cell phones and keep extra distance – at least 500 feet – between themselves and other vehicles.
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).