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Winter storm blankets Kentucky; UPDATE: Fayette Schools canceled for Thursday

By Michael McKay

mmckay@herald-leader.com

Lexington snow plows cleared Tates Creek Road near Malibu Drive.
Lexington snow plows cleared Tates Creek Road near Malibu Drive. cbertram@herald-leader.com

UPDATE 11:15 p.m. 1/20/16: Fayette County has canceled school for Thursday.

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Less than 3 inches of accumulated snow caused accidents and closed schools and businesses in the state Wednesday. But Central and Eastern Kentucky could see four times as much snow Friday if the next winter storm lives up to predictions.

Early predictions are pegging snow totals at 5-12 inches in Lexington and surrounding counties starting Thursday night through Friday. The eastern counties could see 8-14 inches, according to projections from WKYT chief meteorologist Chris Bailey Wednesday afternoon.

Bailey said 30-40 mph gusts are also possible Friday heading into Saturday.

The National Weather Service in Louisville hasn’t released possible snow totals but said Wednesday afternoon there is “high confidence” that a winter storm will occur and increasing confidence of “significant snow accumulations.” The weather service said very hazardous road conditions and possible power outages should also be expected.

The first round of the winter one-two punch landed Wednesday morning, closing schools and causing accidents in Central and Eastern Kentucky.

Bailey predicted the regions would end up with 1 to 4 inches of snow, with some isolated areas getting as much as 6 inches Wednesday.

The National Weather Service in Louisville reported that 2 inches of snow had fallen at Blue Grass Airport by 12 p.m. The airport had two flight delays in the morning but none in the afternoon.

Most of the day’s snow had tapered off before noon, according to the weather service. Freezing drizzle and snow flurries were likely in the afternoon.

Lexington Police Lt. Clay Combs said Wednesday morning road conditions were poor, particularly on side roads. As more commuters got on the road, the frequency of the accident calls increased, he said.

Officers responded to 110 non-injury accidents and three minor injury accidents between 6 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Lexington, police Lt. Jackie Newman said.

Louisville Metro Police Department stopped responding to non-injury accidents early Wednesday, directing motorists to online reports, according to Metro Emergency Services. The city received close to 4 inches of snow, according to the weather service.

The weather service said main roads should improve by afternoon, but side streets might remain snow-covered and slick.

In the state, roads in Anderson, Boyle, Jessamine, Mercer and Scott counties were snow-covered with lane markings obscured as of 11 a.m., Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokeswoman Natasha Lacy said. 

Spokesman Ryan Watts said the cabinet might use as many as 1,000 snowplows and 432 contractors to clear the 63,000 lane miles it is responsible for during winter weather.

The cabinet was updating some road conditions at 511.ky.gov

Get the full forecast on Bailey's weather blog. See weather closings on WKYT.

Get the weather service Jackson office forecast for Eastern Kentucky | Weather service update for Central Kentucky

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