"Extremely Hazardous" Road Conditions Tonight as Blizzard-Like Storm Moves In

Jan 21, 2016

Credit National Weather Service

Calls to stay off area roadways are coming from Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Officials and Governor Matt Bevin as the second round of winter weather approaches tonight.

Near blizzard like conditions are expected overnight and into tomorrow. The region is under a winter storm warning from 6 o'clock this evening until midnight Friday. 

Gov. Bevin cautions residents to avoid all unnecessary travel.

“Over the next 48 hours, a major winter storm is expected to impact many regions of Kentucky— potentially causing ice-related damage, service interruption and impassable roadways," said Bevin. 

"With the sheer volume and rate of snowfall expected, it's unlikely that even main roads will be clear until after the storm subsides on Saturday." 

Freezing rain will transition to snow overnight with totals upwards of 10 inches expected in far eastern counties of our region.  

KYTC Spokesman Keith Todd says make arrangements now for special medical needs. He suggests staying over at a workplace or friend or family’s house to avoid an early morning commute.  

Todd expects the roads to be “extremely hazardous.”

“With a tenth of an inch of ice overnight, that’s a real game-changer when it comes to treating roadways," said Todd. "It requires a lot more salt, may even limit the ability of our crews to get out and make their rounds to spread salts.  We’re reminding everybody to fully prepared for some pretty hazardous driving conditions probably Saturday and possibly into Sunday.”

Todd says the region’s arteries – the interstates, US highways and parkways – are a top priority and it may not be until Saturday that crews can move on to clearing secondary routes.  Governor Matt Bevin says the National Guard has been placed on high-alert to assist if a state emergency is declared.  

Credit Matt Markgraf, WKMS

Travel

Driving conditions will be extremely hazardous. Visibility may drop below a quarter mile at times.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says you should only travel if necessary. KYTC Spokesman Keith Todd warns that high winds could cause drifting and blowing snow that can worsen driving conditions. He advises people required to be at work to bring a sleeping bag and food in preparation for spending the night.

Kentucky Highway Crews are prepared to work around the clock to clear roads.

Ice and Snow

Christian, Todd, and Muhlenberg counties along with the southern portion of Hopkins  County may see up to 10 inches of snow. The majority of the region could see 4-8 inches of snow, with accumulations increasing toward the east.

The snowfall totals for the southern Pennyrile region have been increased to 6-8 inches, with the far edge of our listening area in Daviess, Todd, and Muhlenberg counties forecast for 8-10 inches. Northern Pennyrile counties along with the majority of the Jackson Purchase could see 4-6 inches of snow. One tenth to a quarter inch of ice is expected to accumulate with the greatest amounts likely  around the West Kentucky Parkway.

NWS Meteorologist Rachel Trevino says the Jackson Purchase will see freezing rain beginning around 8:00 tonight, which will push northeast and change over to snow between midnight and 6:00 a.m.
Trevino says precipitation will stick and accumulate immediately in most areas. She forecasts a tenth to a quarter inch of ice accumulation for most of the region.

“We’ll be getting probably the most ice along a line from Muhlenberg County down to Trigg or somewhere in that area," Trevino said. "That will vary of course, but that will be where we see the most ice. But the snow amounts will be heaviest in the Pennyrile region." 

The southern Pennyrile could see 4-6 inches of snow, with 2-4 inches forecast for northern counties and much of the Jackson Purchase. 

Credit Paul Jerry / common.wikimedia.org

Winds
Winds will pick up after midnight with gusts peaking between 25 and 35 miles per hour Friday afternoon.  Some far western counties could see gusts of up to 40 miles an hour. The storm could bring isolated power outages. 

Meteorologist Beau Dodson says while the forecast will likely change throughout the day, the weather system could bring freezing rain, snow and up to one-quarter of an inch of ice.

"This is probably the most difficult winter storm in several years to forecast and the reason for that is that the exact track of the area of low pressure is still in question... There's going to be a very sharp gradient on the precipitation amounts," Dodson said.

Dodson says for now, the Kentucky-Tennessee border could see especially significant precipitation. Strong winds and icing could bring down some tree limbs or cause power outages.

“Difficult to say county-by-county how this all ends up playing out, but someone could be dealing with quite a bit of wintry precipitation - Murray area definitely is in the running for that,” Dodson said. “Once you go further north of there, that’s where it becomes a bigger question mark."