Subfreezing weather expected to blanket Kentucky

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Associated Press

Posted on January 22, 2014 at 8:01 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — As Kentuckians dig out from several inches of snow, they're faced with the prospect of temperatures in the single digits and wind chills even lower Wednesday as an Arctic blast serves a second helping of winter weather.

Temperatures in the Bluegrass state were forecast to drop into the teens by Tuesday evening and the single digits by early Wednesday with wind chills below zero for much of the state north of Interstate 64, the Mountain Parkway in eastern Kentucky and Interstate 69 through western Kentucky.

The cold, dry air will help clear up some of the snow but will likely leave roads slick and prone to icing, said Mike Callahan, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Louisville.

"We're not going to see any improvements with that," Callahan said. "Winter has returned."

Forecasters said the storm moved quickly but packed a hefty punch as it passed. In the Louisville area, 3 to 5 inches of snow fell while a line from Elizabethtown to Berea saw 2 to 4 inches and winds gusting to 35 mph.

The frigid temperatures come just two weeks after Kentucky braved a post-holiday freeze when temperatures fell to near zero or below, icing roads and causing schools to call off classes for several days. The state's largest school district, Jefferson County Public Schools, has missed so many snow days this year, it is extending the last day of classes to June 6, said district spokesman Ben Jackey.

Since that first blast of cold air, the city of Catlettsburg in eastern Kentucky has been dealing with low water pressure because of a broken water main. City officials didn't immediately return messages from The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Ryan Eastwood, director of engineering and utilities for the city of Ashland, which provides water for Catlettsburg, told The Independent crews have had multiple issues since the first cold snap and haven't been able to fix all the problems.

"It's been a juggling act, and our crews are just run ragged," Eastwood said.

The storm Tuesday left ice and snow on the ground in Louisville. The frozen precipitation began to melt by midday as sunshine aided brine and salt in dissolving the roughly 3 inches that blanketed roads and sidewalks in the morning. The clearing, though, did little to increase visitors to downtown Louisville's shopping and restaurant strip at lunchtime, where empty tables outnumbered patrons at multiple places Tuesday.

"We're starting to get back into the groove of things with people going back to work," said Cynthia Chu, a barista at a coffee shop as she waited on customer from a nearby office building. "But, not today."

The snow and winds brought problems for people who couldn't get out — about 2,000 people in suburban Louisville lost power Tuesday morning, with outages also reported in Owenton.

William Turner, the director of Campbell County Emergency Management, put a level 2 snow emergency in place and asked people not to travel unless absolutely necessary because of accumulations and blowing snow.

"Sometimes the best winter driving strategy is just to stay home, whenever that is possible," Turner said.

Rob Allen, deputy director of the Division of Streets and Roads in Lexington, said drifting snow and sub-freezing temperatures were complicating cleanup efforts.

"I would suggest people who don't need to be out, stay at home," Allen said.

Forecasters in Paducah expected about an inch of snow but called for it to end early in the day. Johanna Rhodes, owner of Etcetera Coffeehouse in Paducah, said the worst of the winter weather seemed to bypass far western Kentucky.

"Nothing in Paducah except snow flurries, windy and the chill of that getting-colder wind," Rhodes said Tuesday morning.

Once the snow ends, those cold temperatures and windy conditions will hang around for a little while, Callahan said.

"Hopefully, with the strong winds, that may dry off some of the roads," Callahan said.

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Follow Associated Press reporter Brett Barrouquere on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBarrouquereAP

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