Weather

Winter storm piles ice, snow on roads, and more is to come

Snow and freezing rain coated much of Central Kentucky Tuesday, and Wednesday's forecast called for more of the same.

The weather caused power outages and accidents around the region.

Central Kentucky could expect periods of freezing rain and sleet overnight Tuesday, the National Weather Service said, with 1 to 3 inches of snow expected to fall Wednesday morning and a high of 28 degrees.

North of Lexington, there was to be significant icing caused by freezing rain and sleet in some areas, with 2 to 4 inches of snow possible Wednesday morning.

South-central Kentucky should look for rain, freezing rain and sleet continuing Wednesday, with an inch or two of snow and sleet accumulating. This area has received more rain, and flooding remains a possibility in some places.

About 6 p.m. Tuesday, Kentucky Utilities reported that about 70 people were without power in Lexington. The mayor’s office urged residents to make sure they had a flashlight and battery-operated radio on hand and to stay off roads.

Danville police banned all but emergency travel Tuesday evening as downed trees and power lines blocked roads. Danville was also experiencing serious water shortages early Tuesday evening because power to the pump station at Lake Herrington is out. Residents were asked to conserve water.

Power was knocked out in parts of Nicholasville and most of Berea on Tuesday afternoon.

Dozens of schools, day care centers, businesses and other organizations closed Tuesday because of the storm. Fayette and surrounding school districts were closed. So were Eastern Kentucky University, Kentucky State University and Georgetown College.

Accidents were reported on interstates 75 and 64. Fifty-one accidents were counted in Fayette County between midnight and 4 p.m. Tuesday, according to Lexington officials. Eight of them resulted in minor injuries. Forty-seven cars were towed off snow emergency routes.

Icy roads contributed to a head-on collision Tuesday morning on U.S. 68 in Jessamine County.

The drivers of the two vehicles were taken to University of Kentucky Hospital, Deputy Sheriff Allen "Doodle" Peel said.

Molly Metz, 41, of Georgetown was driving a 2001 Ford Expedition eastbound when she lost control, and her SUV struck a 2006 Isuzu box truck driven by Christopher Oler, 24, of Lexington. Jessamine County firefighters had to extract Oler from the truck using the "Jaws of Life."

Oler was listed in fair condition; a condition for Metz was not immediately available.

The crash happened shortly before 10 a.m. Tuesday about three-tenths of a mile east of Barkley Woods subdivision, Peel said.

Power outages

The city of Berea was without power Tuesday afternoon because of a power-grid outage in the area.

The outage has left nearly all of Berea's 10,000 residents in the dark, said Michael Bryant, deputy director of Madison County emergency management agency.

Berea officials asked residents to stay off roadways unless absolutely necessary and treat intersections like four-way stops, according to a news release from the agency.

A temporary shelter has been set up at Church on the Rock on U.S. 25 on the outskirts of Berea.

Some people in Nicholasville said power was out about 9:30 a.m.

John Clark, shoveling outside a florist shop on Nicholasville's Main Street, said he was reminded of the February 2003 ice storm that crippled the region.

"It's not quite as bad, but it's not over yet," Clark said.

Kentucky Utilities spokesman Cliff Feltham said 25,000 people were without power west of I-65.

Nicholasville-based Blue Grass Energy reported that about 220 homes and businesses in Jessamine, Madison and Mercer counties were without electricity at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The electrical cooperative serves more than 54,000 members in 23 central and north-central Kentucky counties.

The outages occurred as the weight of ice brought down power lines and caused tree limbs to fall onto lines, said Magen Howard, communications specialist for the cooperative.

In Madison County, at least 15 power lines were counted down and there were probably more, said Michael Bryant, the county's deputy emergency management agency director.

A couple of houses have been damaged because of fallen trees, Bryant said. Some limbs have come through windows.

Emergency management officials in Estill County also have received calls about scattered power outages and fallen trees, said Melissa Jessie, public information office for the Estill County emergency management agency.

But "it's not as bad as it could be," Jessie said.

Slick and slushy

In Central Kentucky, the ice started after midnight, followed by snow, which was then topped by freezing rain.

State roads were slush-covered, and snowplows continued to work much of Tuesday.

"I feel like we'll keep on doing it into tomorrow evening," said Steve Farmer, a branch manager with the state Transportation Cabinet.

Roads were fairly empty Tuesday in Estill County as drivers chose to stay inside, Jessie said.

"It's kind of like a giant ice slushy outside," she said.

Boyle County Deputy Sheriff Jody Adams said roads in Central Kentucky were slick. "They're passable, but you have to be careful," he said.

Road conditions were about the same in neighboring Mercer County.

"They're pretty slick and slushy," Mercer Deputy Sheriff Wes Gaddis said. "Even Main Street (in Harrodsburg) is bad."

In Scott County, main roads were "pretty clear" early Tuesday afternoon, said Capt. Eric Westerfield of the Georgetown-Scott County Emergency Management Agency. Residents were reporting that some side streets were snow-covered and slick.

The emergency management agency in Georgetown measured 3½ inches of snow Tuesday on its property. Sadieville and other northern parts of Scott County received 4 to 6 inches of snow.

"It's going to be nasty again in the morning," Westerfield said Tuesday afternoon. Freezing rain is expected to turn to snow overnight. "My suggestion is if you don't have to go from now until noon, don't go."

The snow, about 1 to 11/2 inches in Lexington, provided some traction for drivers. Main roads were passable if people moved slowly, said Sam Williams, the acting director for Lexington's Department of Streets, Roads and Forestry.

Regardless of where they are, Williams urged people to park in their driveways and stay off streets if possible while plows continued to work.

"We just hope the ice doesn't start forming on power lines and trees, causing problems later on," Williams said.

Officials have warned that the storm could knock out power across the state.

In Western Kentucky, ice buildup caused transformers to explode and brought down trees and power lines, National Weather Service meteorologist Robin Smith said.

Smith, based in Paducah, said Tuesday morning that Western Kentucky has received as much as 1½ inches of sleet and freezing rain. Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel was in Paducah on Tuesday morning, warning people to stay home.

Mammoth Cave has the same weather year-round and attracts visitors even in winter. But Mammoth Cave National Park was closed Tuesday because so many roads in the park were blocked by trees that fell under the weight of ice.

Freezing rain and sleet

Until about 7 a.m. Wednesday, a winter storm warning continues for Central and Eastern Kentucky, and an ice warning has been issued for some southern counties. In addition, possible warming temperatures in Eastern Kentucky have prompted a flood watch for the region.

In Central Kentucky, an additional quarter-inch to a half-inch of ice could accumulate by late Tuesday night. One to three inches of snow could fall Wednesday in Fayette, Bourbon, Woodford, Jessamine and Nicholas counties, according to the National Weather Service in Louisville.

To the north, Franklin, Scott and Harrison counties could receive an additional three-quarters of an inch of ice by late Tuesday and two to four inches of snow on Wednesday, forecasters in Louisville said.

In Eastern Kentucky, it was warm enough to drop the winter storm warning for the southernmost counties. The rain seen there was expected to change to snow on Wednesday.

To the north, Boyd, Rowan and Fleming counties could see a quarter-inch to a half-inch of ice on Tuesday night, with 1 to 2 inches of snow on Wednesday, forecasters at the National Weather Service in Jackson said.

A flood watch remained in effect for Eastern Kentucky, with a possibility of as much as three inches of rain.

Back in Boyle County, Assistant Police Chief Anthony Gray said power outages were few in his city.

However, the weather continued to concern him.

"If temperatures stay cold and it continues to rain, it's definitely going to be worse tomorrow," he said.

Staff writers Andy Mead, Greg Kocher, Ashlee Clark, Michelle Ku and Shawntaye Hopkins, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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