Central Kentucky could see a mix of ice and snow as temperatures fall Friday from a storm that has generated a winter storm warning, according to the National Weather Service.
In Lexington, Friday morning rain will transition to a wintry mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow by noon, the National Weather Service said. For the region, the winter storm warning is in effect until 4 a.m. Saturday.
That prompted Fayette County Public Schools to dismiss two hours early and several surrounding counties to cancel Friday’s classes altogether.
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Lexington could see a limited accumulation of ice before snow begins later Friday. Conditions could deteriorate in time for Friday’s evening rush hour, the weather service said.
WKYT-TV Chief Meteorologist Chris Bailey said “the odds favor greater than four inches of snow for a lot of our region.”
For Lexington, he predicted 4 to 8 inches of snow, although he said “that depends on how quickly we switch from ice to snow.”
Friday’s commute home “should be a mess,” Bailey said.
He also said winds of 30 mph or higher are possible Friday.
He said an additional 2 to 4 inches could fall on Monday, followed by an arctic front that could send temperatures to around 0.
The weather service projected 3 to 5 inches of snow in Lexington and surrounding counties on Friday and Saturday.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said the city has been preparing for the weather.
“The forecasters have warned us, and we’re listening,” he said in a statement. “Our trucks and street crews are ready, and our salt barn is full. If the weather is bad, we know Lexington citizens will reach out and help their neighbors. We’re ready.”
There are 6,000 tons of salt on hand in Lexington, city officials said Thursday afternoon. Snow-removal crews from the city’s divisions of Streets and Roads and Water Quality will work most of Friday and then will start working 12-hour shifts at 8 p.m. Friday. More than 50 drivers will work the storm.
Garbage collection Friday will start one hour earlier than normal to help crews get done by the time bad weather arrives.
Jeanie Beall, manager of the Georgetown Kroger Marketplace, said her store had been “very, very busy” with customers loading up on groceries before the impending snow.
Beall said Sundays are usually the store’s busiest day for Clicklist orders, with about 150 to 160 customers picking up, but Thursday topped that.
She said Kroger prepares for such events by shipping out extra supplies when a winter storm is on the way.
“Our corporate office in Louisville sends out what we call ‘snow milk,’ but it’s also bread and eggs. So we don’t have to order extra,” she said.
She said the store also gets in a supply of goods such as salt, shovels, firewood and windshield washer fluid that doesn’t freeze.
Besides the staples of milk, bread and eggs, Beall said beer is also popular among winter-weather shoppers.
“The soup aisle is wild … you can’t walk down that aisle for all the people,” she said, adding later, “I had a lady come through today and she had a cart full of toilet paper. I helped her unload it and asked why — and she was going to make sure she doesn’t run out.”
Drivers license classes were canceled because of the forecast and illness on Friday at George Rogers Clark High School and Saturday at the Beaumont branch of the Lexington Public Library.
Areas in Northern Kentucky near the Ohio River could receive 4 inches of snow, the weather service said, and most of Eastern Kentucky is likely to receive 1 to 2 inches.
Snow and ice could stick around next week as temperatures remain low, according to the weather service.
It’s been about 700 days since the National Weather Service issued its last winter storm warning for the area, it said Wednesday.
The most recent warning was in January 2016, when snow buried much of Kentucky, causing Gov. Matt Bevin to declare a state of emergency and activate the Kentucky National Guard.
Bailey pointed out that 2018 started off with a 7-day stretch of extreme cold, followed by record highs that will be bookended by more extreme cold. Wednesday’s high of 65 degrees set a record, and Thursday’s high of 66 tied the record for that day in Lexington.
He said Friday may start out at about 60 degrees but by Friday night, the temperature could be in the teens.
“The temperature drop is going to be astounding,” he said.