Ice, snow on the way for holiday


Residents of Boyle and surrounding counties can expect an inch of ice topped by a couple of inches of snow by Thursday, followed with freezing temperatures and frosty winds.

And they should consider themselves lucky.

"You're just getting a glancing blow," said Mike Callahan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Louisville, who said rain was already turning to ice and snow there at 9 a.m. today. Louisville and other areas to the north and west of central Kentucky are expecting up to 8 inches of snow.

"The further south you are, the better off you're going to be," Callahan continued, while cautioning that weather would play havoc with most of the state, whether it takes the form of rain, ice or snow.

"It's going to be a real mess," he said.

Temperatures in the 40s this morning in Central Kentucky were falling fast, Callahan said, and would turn rain into a mixture of sleet and ice by this afternoon. Overnight, the precipitation will change to all snow, he said. When the snow ends on Thursday, temperatures will drop to single digits with winds picking up to 17 mph.


Road crews are ready

Despite the threat of Old Man Winter unleashing almost everything in his arsenal, road crews are ready for the challenge, said David Thacker, spokesman for the state Transportation Cabinet's district office in Lexington, which covers Boyle, Garrard and Mercer counties.

"They've prepared for this type of thing all year long. It's something we're always prepared for," Thacker said. "I don't anticipate it being a problem."

Crews were busy today pre-treating all state highways with salt brine, a liquid mixture that keeps ice from bonding to road surfaces. Even though rain washes away the treatment, Thacker said there should be enough brine and salt left over from applications on the weekend and what is applied today to keep state routes from getting too slick as precipitation turns to ice and then snow.

"When we see the weather turning, we'll start applying the brine, and as it continues to get worse, we'll switch over to rock salt and then calcium chloride (which is mixed with salt when temperatures drop below 25 degrees)," Thacker said.

Further south, in Lincoln and Casey counties, crews were taking more of a wait-and-see approach, said Russell Jones, operations manager for district offices in Somerset.

"We're supposed to start out with more rain, so we're not doing any pre-treatment because the rain will just wash it off," Jones said. "We're monitoring the weather closely and we've got crews ready to go. We've just got to wait to see how much ice and snow we get. Maybe we'll get lucky and most of it will miss us."

One of the main concerns is power

One of the major concerns during a winter storm is power, and an Inter-County Energy official said today the utility is prepared to handle any outages.

"We have certain stocks of supplies, such conductors and splicing sleeves, put off in one corner of our warehouse and dedicated for emergency use only," said Steve Souder, vice president of operations for Inter-County, which supplies electricity to 24,000 customers in Boyle, Casey, Garrard, Lincoln, Mercer and seven other counties.

"Also, with this being holiday season and several of our people taking off, each of our employees will let their supervisors know where they can be reached," he said.

Typically some 30 Inter-County employees are called in case of emergency weather situations, said Souder. They are backed up by 25 to 30 employees of companies that are under full-time contracts with the utility to help in case of emergencies, he said. "We also make sure our trucks are fueled up, have chains on their tires and are in good working order," Souder said.

Meanwhile, grocery store managers also are gearing up for brisk business as customers usually flood the stores in advance of approaching winter weather to lap up staples. In fact, some stores reported lines forming this morning.

"They're already here," said Kevin Withers of the customers that had descended upon the Kroger in Harrodsburg by 9 a.m. "Our lines at the checkouts already are growing pretty long."

Popular items this morning at the Harrodsburg Kroger were milk, eggs, bread and bananas, said Withers. The same staples were in demand at other area groceries.

"We try to keep an eye on the weather so we can anticipate the demand we'll have for staples in times of snow and ice," he said. "We knew there would be high demand today and we were ready for the shoppers."

Livestock herds need care

The people that provide many of the staples sought by shoppers also are ready for the winter weather, according to area agricultural extension agents. But those agents said it never hurts to remind farmers of what they can do to make sure their livestock herds are kept as safe and healthy as possible.

"One of the most overlooked items in times of winter weather conditions is an adequate supply of fresh water - fresh water in the liquid form," said Mike Carter, ag agent for Garrard County.

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