Ice causes overnight power outages, downed trees, flooding; more outages possible

jwarren@herald-leader.comFebruary 5, 2014 

UPDATE: Fayette County Public Schools canceled classes for Thursday, Feb. 6 due to inclement weather.

Dozens of downed trees and some flooded basements were the remnants Wednesday of the latest winter blast in Lexington after a night of power outages that affected thousands.

City street crews had received more than 50 calls concerning downed trees by Wednesday morning after the overnight ice storm, but streets were generally in good shape, said Rob Allen, acting deputy director of the streets and roads division.

City water-quality crews had received at least 18 calls about flooded basements, Allen said.

Statewide, no deaths or injuries were reported from the storm, said Buddy Rogers, spokesman for Kentucky Emergency Management. Problems mainly were limited to slick roads and power outages, Rogers said.

Allen said, "We have crews out doing trees; we have trucks out working on our priority roads. And water quality is out working, so we're staying busy.

"Fortunately," he said, "it looks like we didn't get the brunt of the ice."

Allen said temperatures rose overnight, helping crews that were clearing streets and roads. But it's expected to get colder during the day Wednesday, and that could pose more problems, he said.

"Mother nature was kind to us, and the warmer temperatures helped get rid of a lot of the snow and ice," Allen said. "But the projected highs the next two days are only in the mid-20s. So we're scrambling to get bus routes scraped and salted.

"The main roads are doing really well."

Meanwhile, about 1,600 homes in various parts of Lexington remained without electricity early Wednesday morning as a result of the storm, Kentucky Utilities said.

One of the affected areas was on Cleveland Road, where a power pole was reported down, KU spokesman Cliff Feltham said. Roughly 180 homes were affected there, he said.

Various parts of Lexington lost power overnight — affecting as many as 8,500 homes in one instance.

Overall, Feltham said, outages occurred overnight in 40 of the 77 counties served by Kentucky Utilities and LG&E.

The outages affected about 71,000 customers as of Wednesday morning, Feltham said. The total included 34,000 KU customers and about 37,000 LG&E customers, he said. KU and LG&E served more than 500,000 customers.

Power was lost in those areas about midnight and was restored about 3 a.m., he said.

"We've been busy overnight, and it hasn't been any large number of outages," Feltham said.

The number of outages kept fluctuating: As power was restored in one area, it went off in another, Feltham said.

"We're gaining some and then losing some," he said.

Repair crews were working on the problems and hoped to have power restored soon. However, Feltham predicted more scattered outages as the day continues.

"We still have ice on tree limbs, and wind speeds are supposed to pick up," he said. "With the ice falling off the lines and the lines snapping back into place and maybe more ice falling, we're going to experience some more outages over the course of today."

The major overnight outage in Lexington affected about 8,500 homes, mainly in the areas of Loudon Avenue west of Winchester Road, and Lakeshore Drive, Feltham said.

Gary Epperson, Clark County's emergency management director, said about 1,600 Clark Energy customers in the county were without power as of about 9 a.m. The county planned to open a shelter later Wednesday for those without power, he said.

Epperson said his main concern now is the potential for flooding in Clark County in the wake of the storm.

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.

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