MetroSafe, JCPS, LG&E on alert for severe weather


by Joe Arnold

Posted on January 29, 2013 at 6:29 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 29 at 8:22 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- The threat of strong winds and isolated tornadoes has Kentuckiana on alert.  MetroSafe's 911 call center is calling in extra staff, LG & E has crews on standby and Jefferson County Public Schools may delay or cancel classes, depending on the storm's punch and progress.

A squall line making its way east from Missouri and Illinois is packing wind gusts between 60 and 70 miles per hour and heavy rain.

"We do most certainly expect more calls to come in so we will secure additional people," said Jody Duncan, a spokeswoman for MetroSafe, Louisville's Emergency Management Agency. "Supervisors will be in here. and a lot of times EMA will come in and staff the Emergency Operations Center."

"The severity of the storm could present damage problems for our bus routes, they could possibly present damage problems, electricity problems for our schools," said Ben Jackey, a JCPS spokesman.  "So that's one part of the equation. The other is when is it going to hit. We've herad anywhere from 2 to 6 o-clock. Let's say it hit around that 5:00 time, that's when we're just starting to get buses rolling out. 5:30 or so we've got students who are just starting to go to bus stops. We don't want them out there in those elements, clearly."

Jackey urged parents to pay attention to local television and radio stations for the latest updates about any changes to the schedules of area schools.

"We're expecting it to be possibly a moderate storm," said Liz Pratt, a Louisville Gas & Electric spokeswoman.  "We anticipate if we should experience outages, they may be isolated outages.  But as with any storm cell, anything can happen as it moves across our service territories."

"We're also in communications with our business partners for the contract crews available to assist us," Pratt continued.  "So at this point, we have our crews on ready.  Our crews are on standby and they are ready to respond to however the storms may affect our service territory."

Pratt encouraged customers to download LG & E's online power outage map.  Customers can also report downed lines online or by calling (502) 589-3500.

Neither Louisville Metro Police or Louisville Fire and Rescue plan any extra operations or staffing in advance, but Metrosafe advises residents to prepare, especially with severe weather possible while most of Kentuckiana sleeps.

"The tornado sirens are something to inform the community that are outside at the time," Duncan said.  "So it is imperative that you have the reverse 911 or Code Red system and a weather radio to notify you so you can get in the most safe place in your home."

Kentucky Emergency Management (KYEM) officials say they are working with the National Weather Service to discuss the threat and capability of the severe weather system. 

"Much of the risk to the Commonwealth will come during the overnight hours. The system carries a risk for tornadoes, as well as damaging winds and heavy rainfall that could produce flash flooding in low lying areas along small streams and creeks," a KYEM advisory read.

"This storm system is expected to reach western Kentucky early Tuesday evening and move across the Commonwealth overnight, making it particularly dangerous for citizens who may be sleeping when the worst weather arrives," the advisory continued.