Severe storm brings down trees, power lines throughout Lexington
A storm that rolled across Central Kentucky late Friday afternoon left trees and power lines down all over Lexington.
Trees fell on several houses and cars, and multiple streets were blocked. Traffic signals were out in many places.
WKYT Chief Meteorologist Chris Bailey said winds reached speeds of 60 and 70 mph.
Woodford County declared a state of emergency because of blocked roads and downed power lines, according to the county’s emergency management agency.
The Lexington Police said they were working more than 90 calls for service just after 5 p.m. They urged motorists to use caution and to watch for limbs and power lines in the road.
Western and Central Kentucky were under a tornado watch until 3 a.m. Saturday.
Fayette County was under a flood advisory until 7:30 p.m. The National Weather Service said Meadowthorpe, Dunbar High School, Thouroughbred Acres, Veterans Park, Cardinal Hill, Cadentown, Northland and Highlands were all at risk for flooding.
The Bluegrass Fair and Franklin County Fair said they would not open Friday night. Lextran warned that buses might be running late. The Lexington Legends postponed Friday night’s game until Saturday. The Lexington Children’s Theatre canceled its Friday night performance of Matilda the Musical because of a power outage.
Officials at the Barbasol Championship ended play early on Friday, after the storms moved through Nicholasville. The public will not be admitted onto the course at the start of play on Saturday morning, as officials “assess any damage and safety issues on the course,” according to a post on social media late Friday. PGA officials said they hope to “give a two-hour notice of the course opening to spectators.”
In Franklin County, 17 people were displaced because of an apartment building fire that was apparently caused by a lightning strike, The State Journal reported.
The National Weather Service said more storms are expected Saturday and Sunday afternoons, bringing a threat of gusty winds and heavy rainfall.
Downed trees from a morning storm and a tractor-trailer on fire Friday turned southbound Interstate 75 between Lexington and Richmond into a three-lane parking lot for hours.
The first wave of strong thunderstorms — which were expected to increase in severity throughout the day — began around 7:45 a.m. Friday in Fayette and other counties. By 8:30 a.m., multiple trees were reported down on Interstate 75 southbound at mile marker 99 near the Clays Ferry exit and more at the Athens exit 5 miles away. Some fell across lanes of traffic.
Further complicating travel, a fire engulfed a trailer carrying vehicles. The trees and the fire combined to close the interstate at the Clays Ferry exit for roughly three hours, according to Lexington police. Traffic eventually backed up on the interstate for at least 8 miles.
Additional storm-damaged trees had fallen on Old Richmond Road, making a detour challenging to establish. Around 9:30 a.m., traffic was diverted to Athens-Boonesboro Road at the 104 mile marker, but that did not alleviate the delays that continued to build.
The left shoulder of the interstate opened for traffic about 11 a.m. and the roadway fully reopened at 12:20 p.m.
The National Weather Service reported Lexington had an “enhanced” potential for severe storms all of Friday. The potential for dangerous storms was higher in areas west, including Louisville, Bowling Green and Owensboro.
As the night approached, the threat for severe storms increased, the weather service reported. It said to be prepared for numerous thunderstorms with frequent lightning, large hail up to 2 inches, wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph and a few tornadoes.
The Lexington area was at its greatest risk for severe storms around 8 p.m. Friday, the weather service reported.
A “large and dangerous” tornado was spotted in in New Middleton, Ind., — just west of Louisville — at 2:20 p.m, according to Bailey. Around 3:30, he reported there was baseball-sized hail in Trimble County in Kentucky.
WAVE 3 in Louisville reported four tornadoes on the ground in Harrison County, Ind., where New Middleton is located.
Additional rounds of showers and thunderstorms during the weekend could lead to high water and flash flooding, according to Bailey. Temperatures will drop to the 70s during the weekend, Bailey said.