Winter blast expected in Lexington starting Friday

jwarren@herald-leader.comDecember 4, 2013 

Despite balmy temperatures in Lexington on Wednesday, street and utility crews were gearing up for a possible winter blast.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch for most of Central and Western Kentucky for Friday through Saturday morning. The bad weather is expected to start with rain Thursday night, followed by colder air that could bring rain, snow and ice.

Albert Miller, Lexington's acting streets and roads director, said Wednesday that his department already was getting ready.

"Right now, it's 65 degrees," Miller said. "But I've been in Kentucky a long time, so it's not that hard to believe.

[Read Chris Bailey's Kentucky Weather for the latest weather report]

"We're making sure our equipment is where it should be. And if there is an ice storm, we want to make sure all of our chain saws and necessary support equipment are ready to go."

Meanwhile, Kentucky Utilities spokesman Cliff Feltham said utility officials were monitoring the weather in order to be ready for whatever happens.

"It's kind of the way this season goes — warm weather followed by a spell of cold weather that can bring pretty wild conditions," Feltham said. "And it looks like some wild conditions are coming with that change in the weather."

Feltham said KU has been following the developing weather system in the western U.S. for a number of days in planning what the storm might bring to Kentucky.

"We hear the word ice, which is one we don't like to hear," he said. "But we believe the system is moving relatively quickly, which means the ice touch might not be as heavy for us as it was during the storms in 2003 and 2009."

Feltham said ice usually doesn't pose serious problems for the electrical system until build-ups reach an inch to an inch and a half.

"We're informally telling our employees and anybody externally also to prepare themselves, and stock up whatever they think they need to get through the weekend, he said.

There's a chance Lexington could miss the worst of the winter storm, according to weather service predictions on Wednesday. But traveling could be tough for University of Kentucky basketball fans headed for Dallas, where the UK men's and women's teams are to play Baylor on Friday night.

Dallas could be in for a serious ice storm, according to the weather service, with freezing rain on Friday and Saturday, freezing drizzle on Sunday, and low temperatures in the 20s.

Chris Bailey, WKYT chief meteorologist, said Lexington could see single-digit temperatures next Tuesday and Wednesday.

"It's all a part of the same system," he said. "The worst times will be Friday and Sunday. We're done with 65 degrees after this."

According to the weather service, Lexington could see 1 to 3 inches of snow, with light accumulations of ice, when the storm moves in Friday. Louisville could get 2 to 4 inches of snow, also with light ice accumulations, according to the forecast.

Jim Warren (859) 231-3255.

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