Governor says restrict travel as crews gear up for major winter storm

Snow plow operators, contract crews ready to tackle latest round of wintry weather

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 21, 2016) – As the Commonwealth braces for tomorrow’s winter storm, Gov. Matt Bevin today urged motorists to restrict their travel and prepare for potential ice-related damage, service interruptions and impassable roadways.

“Safety is our first priority; so it is very important to restrict travel to a minimum. 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,” Gov. Bevin said. “Please stay tuned to the latest weather forecasts and avoid all non-essential travel. Your cooperation will give snow-clearing operations the best chance for success in the hours ahead.”

Yesterday, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a winter storm warning for much of Kentucky starting tonight at 7 p.m. EST and lasting until 7 a.m. EST Saturday. The NWS has projected that areas just north of Cumberland Parkway may receive up to a quarter-inch of ice. The chance of significant ice accumulation decreases as the storm moves northeast.

Early to late Friday morning, precipitation will change into a “heavy, wet snow” that’s sure to dump prodigious amounts of snow across much of the Bluegrass. Some areas including central and eastern Kentucky could see amounts of up to a foot or more. Winds could also reach 10-15 mph with gusts up to 35 mph hour. Treacherous driving conditions and power outages are likely as a result of these deteriorating conditions.

Road crews staving off remnants of yesterday’s snowfall have begun to mobilize in each of the Cabinet’s 12 highway districts in anticipation of tomorrow’s event, which is set to arrive in Kentucky around 1 a.m. EST Friday.

Contract crews and maintenance facilities have been busy stocking their trucks with salt, fueling their gas tanks, replacing dull snow plow blades and attaching chains to tires for improved traction. Snow plow and salt truck operators will be equipped with chainsaws to remove any fallen debris on the roadway. The Cabinet is also pursuing additional emergency contractors that will provide equipment and personnel to fill in the necessary gaps.

During snow and ice events, the Transportation Cabinet may field 1,000 snow plows and 432 contractors with plows but has responsibility for 63,000 lane miles of roadway.

“Some areas may experience icing and white-out conditions with wind gusts up to 30 mph. These harsh conditions may complicate our ability to effectively clear the roadways and provide essential services throughout the Commonwealth,” added Gov. 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.”

Snow removal efforts are initially focused on interstates and other major routes. Crews tend to secondary and rural roads once main routes have been cleared. To view the priority network for snow removal, go to transportation.ky.gov/Maintenance/Pages/Snow-and-Ice-Priority-Maps.aspx and select a county.

The cabinet also reminds motorists to follow these simple tips:
• Exercise greater caution when driving. Slow down.
• Be prepared for slick conditions.
• Give a wide berth to snow plows and other heavy highway equipment.
• Eliminate distractions while behind the wheel.

If travel cannot be avoided, motorists are advised to slow down, buckle up, rid themselves of distractions such as cell phones and keep extra distance – at least 500 feet – between themselves and other vehicles.

The cabinet’s SAFE Patrol is available to assist motorists whose vehicles become disabled on Kentucky interstates and parkways. For SAFE Patrol assistance, call 511 or toll-free at 1-877-FOR-KYTC (1-877-367-5982).

Keep up with KYTC news via Twitter, http://twitter.com/kytc, and Facebook, http://facebook.com/kytc120. Information on road and traffic conditions as well as travel assistance are found at 511.ky.gov , by dialing 511 or logging into Waze!

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