Fayette County

Governor, Lexington mayor urge people to stay off the roads

Will Edwards, left, handed out shovels to a line of waiting customers Thursday at Chevy Chase Hardware on East High Street in Lexington. Forecasts of more than a foot of snow in Central Kentucky drove residents out for supplies.
Will Edwards, left, handed out shovels to a line of waiting customers Thursday at Chevy Chase Hardware on East High Street in Lexington. Forecasts of more than a foot of snow in Central Kentucky drove residents out for supplies. palcala@herald-leader.com

A massive storm that could dump a foot or more of snow on Lexington and much of Kentucky on Friday prompted urgent warnings from city and state leaders to stay off roads and remain patient.

“It’s unlikely that even main roads will be clear until after the storm subsides on Saturday,” Gov. Matt Bevin warned Thursday afternoon. “I strongly encourage everyone, except in the case of emergency, to stay off the roads and prepare for any inconvenience during this major snow event. Your cooperation will give snow-clearing operations the best chance for success in the hours ahead.”

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray gave similar advice during a Thursday news conference at Lexington’s government center.

“We’re ready,” Gray said. “This is supposed to be a big storm, so those who can stay home should do so. Otherwise, we hope everyone will help their neighbors, especially those who are elderly, and be patient. And please keep pets out of freezing temperatures.”

Fayette County, numerous other schools districts, the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University canceled Friday classes and all activities in anticipation of the storm.

All state and Lexington government offices will be closed Friday, as will circuit and district courts in Fayette County and all Lexington Public Library locations.

As of 4 p.m. Thursday, the National Weather Service was predicting 8 to 12 inches of snow in northern Fayette County and much of Central Kentucky. But southern Fayette and Jessamine, Clark, Madison and Lincoln counties could see 12 to 18 inches.

“A band of over a foot of snow is likely to set up somewhere across Central Kentucky,” the weather service said.

The snow and ice will move into the state from the south, starting about 1 a.m., the weather service said. Lexington could see the onset of snow between 7 and 10 a.m. Friday, according to the weather service. (Use this weather service page to see maps and graphs. )

Michael Dossett, director of Kentucky Emergency Management, said the storm could affect every county in the state.

“From all indications, this event will include rain, sleet, icing, heavy snowfall and gusting winds,” Dossett said. “We are urging citizens to limit or curtail their travel on interstates and local roadways from Thursday evening through Saturday morning in order to allow our state and local emergency crews to perform their duties in a timely fashion.”

The Commonwealth Emergency Operation Center in Frankfort is on a high level of alert, with additional staffing.

Gray encouraged people not to park on the city’s snow emergency routes so roads can be cleared faster. The routes may be found at Lexingtonky.gov. People can park in the city’s four LexPark garages for free.

All emergency homeless shelters will be open during the snowstorm, Gray said. The Community Inn on Winchester Road will be open 24 hours a day; typically, it is open only at night.

There will be no garbage pickup in Fayette County on Friday. The make-up day will be Wednesday.

Albert Miller, director of streets and roads, said crews would begin pretreating roads with salt at midnight Thursday. Gray said the city had hired private contractors for major snowfall events to help it clear more streets faster.

“Roads are cleared on a priority basis, depending on how many people use them,” Gray said Thursday.

UK HealthCare officials said the main hospital and its clinics would operate on a regular schedule Friday, but plans are being made to provide overnight accommodations for hospital staff. For more information, go to UKhealthcare.uky.edu/weather.

Winter weather help and information

▪  Lexington residents may call LexCall 311 for assistance at 859-425-2255 beginning at 8 a.m. Friday. LexCall will be open 24 hours for the duration of the storm.

▪  Lexington residents may call or text 859-913-0038 to report someone in need of shelter.

▪  Kentucky Utilities customers experiencing outages may find more information on the company’s outage map at Lge-ku.com/storm.

▪  Road conditions throughout the state may be found on the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s website, 511.ky.gov, or by calling 511 in Kentucky or 1-866-737-3767 for out-of-state callers.

▪  Complete weather forecasts by region may be found at Weather.gov.

▪  Fayette County Sheriff Kathy Witt will provide rides to medical personnel who need to get to work, beginning at 6 a.m. Friday. Additionally, Witt’s “winter cares” program will deliver prescriptions and take people to emergency medical appointments such as chemotherapy or dialysis. Witt’s office also will do welfare checks on the elderly. Call 859-252-1771 for details.

▪  Lextran will operate on its snow plan Friday, meaning buses will only service stops with signs marked with snowflakes.