STATE: Guard, Forestry help clear roads, conditions remain difficult

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UPDATE POSTED 4:30 P.M. TUESDAY, FEB. 16, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The National Guard, state Forestry Service, contractors and others are helping utilities and local governments clear roads as part of the effort to restore power across much of Eastern and Central Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear and state emergency leaders said Tuesday afternoon.

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Everything from power outages and state transportation barns to fuel issues have been part of the battles for state road crews, Transporation Secretary Jim Gray said during the governor’s daily briefing Tuesday.

The Kentucky Emergency Operations Center remains at Level 3 operations status. The Kentucky National Guard is assisting emergency efforts by providing debris removal teams to help the Kentucky Division of Forestry clear trees, supporting local officials with transport of citizens to warming centers and shelters and providing crews to transport medical staff.

“Kentuckians are doing what we do best – taking care of each other. Under the continuing state of emergency, we have leveraged assistance from our state agencies in providing response and recovery assets and equipment to assist our many East and Southeastern counties heavily impacted by the recent power outage,” said Kentucky Division of Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett. “At the height of the outage, 154,400 homes were without power. Restoration efforts will be ongoing into the coming week.”

Director Dossett told Kentuckians to be aware that outage numbers rise and fall based on the deactivation of large circuits to repair smaller areas in the outage.

Thirty-two counties and 22 cities in the state have declared states of emergency. Eleven warming centers are open in the commonwealth, with another 18 on standby. Five shelters are open with one on standby.

Director Dossett said a third winter storm in eight days is expected Wednesday evening to Friday morning. Single-digit temperatures are expected. Snow, sleet, freezing rain and cold rain will all be possible across the region.

Gray updated Kentuckians on current driving conditions after another winter storm impacted the commonwealth Monday and overnight.

“Hazardous driving conditions are the rule, not the exception. Interstate Highway 65 has been a significant trouble spot today,” said Secretary Gray. “We again ask the public to help protect themselves and our workers by staying off roads if possible. We all need to do our part, and we’ll get through this together.”

The KYTC Division of Equipment and Division of Incident Management are working to truck motor fuel into eastern counties. Salt supply, statewide, is adequate. Secretary Gray said clearing downed trees has been another major task today, especially in Eastern Kentucky.

Snow and ice information is available at snowky.ky.gov and information on road conditions is available on goky.ky.gov.

UPDATE POSTED 4:30 P.M. TUESDAY, FEB. 16, 2021

FLEMINGSBURG, Ky. (WTVQ) – Road conditions in northeast Kentucky have improved this afternoon – particularly in areas where mostly sleet or snow fell overnight – but many roads remain impassable in Elliott, southern Rowan, Carter, and Boyd counties where ice brought down trees and power lines.

At 4:30 p.m. tUESDAY, main priority A highways such as I-64, US 23, AA Highway, US 68 and others have mostly clear travel lanes with occasional slush. Conditions vary greatly county to county as crews work all routes and back roads that are reported mostly to partly covered with snow and ice. Air temperatures average 15-20 degrees, with pavement 30 degrees.

Slick conditions remain likely on all roads, especially with arctic temps expected overnight. Motorists are advised to restrict travel unless absolutely necessary.

Here’s a county-by-county look at conditions in northeast Kentucky:

  • Bath County: All routes have been plowed. I-64 has the slow lane clear and fast lane partly clear. All roads open, but covered or partly covered. Air 19 degrees.
  • Boyd County: Main routes, I-64, KY 180 to US 60, US 60 to downtown Ashland, US 23, and Ohio River bridges mostly clear lanes. KY 5 and KY 3 now open, with mostly to partly covered lanes. KY 854, KY 757, KY 752, KY 1134, Boy Scout Road, and others remain blocked by downed trees and power lines. Widespread power outages. Air, pavement 21 degrees.
  • Carter County: I-64, AA Highway mostly clear travel lanes with some slush. KY 7 to Elliott County and US 60 from Olive Hill to Rowan County passable, but mostly to partly covered. US 60 east toward Boyd County and other routes blocked by downed trees, power lines. Air 17 degrees.
  • Elliott County: Roads covered, and KY 7 and KY 32 is passable. Most other routes assumed closed by downed by trees and power lines. Air 18 degrees.
  • Fleming County: Main routes are partly clear. Other routes are mostly covered. Air 18 degrees.
  • Greenup County: Main routes like US 23 clear to partly covered. Others mostly covered. Air 18 degrees.
  • Lewis County: Routes partly covered to mostly covered. Air 18 degrees.
    Mason County: Main routes like US 68 mostly clear to partly covered. Other routes mostly covered. Air 18 degrees.
  • Nicholas County: Main routes are mostly clear. Other routes are mostly covered. Air 18 degrees.
  • Rowan County: I-64 mostly clear, main routes partly covered. Other routes mostly covered. KY 1167 blocked with trees and power lines down. KY 3318 blocked with trees down. Air 18 degrees.

Motorists and residents should be aware that while crews in all counties will remain on 12-hour, rotating shifts clearing roads through the week, the large amount of downed trees and the additional snow expected Wednesday night will hamper efforts. And, low temperatures – particularly in the teens or single digits – will reduce salt effectiveness. Snow cover on roads could remain for several days.

ONLINE INFORMATION

For real-time traffic information, to view traffic cams, or to keep up with state snowfighters in your county, visit http://GoKY.ky.gov.

During winter storms, Kentucky Department of Highways snow plow crews work 12-hour shifts to keep highways passable using a priority route system based on traffic volume and connectivity to hospitals and other critical services. Crews focus first on high-priority routes such as interstates and critical roadways, then heavily traveled state routes before turning to lower-volume routes. Snow priority maps for each county can be viewed online at http://SnowKY.ky.gov.

Follow District 9 updates on Twitter and Facebook at http://twitter.com/KYTCDistrict9 or http://facebook.com/KYTCDistrict9.

UPDATE AS OF 11 A.M. TUESDAY, FEB. 16, 2021

FLEMINGSBURG, Ky. (WTVQ) – In the last few hours, all roads have been reported as snow covered or icy farther east toward Ashland.

Many trees and power lines are down, making most roads impassable in Elliott, southern Rowan, Carter, and Boyd counties. Travel is hazardous, and not advised.

Salt truck, snow plow, and chainsaw crews are working in all counties to clear roadways. Some pavement is showing on I-64, and main routes, but all are slick. Air temperatures average 14-20 degrees, with pavement 24-30.

Here’s a county-by-county look at conditions in northeast Kentucky:

  • Bath County: All routes have been treated, routes remain mostly covered. All roads open, but avoid travel or travel with extreme caution.  Air 19 degrees.
  • Boyd County: Main routes I-64, KY 180 to US 60 to downtown Ashland, US 23, and Ohio River bridges open as crews concentrate on keeping them passable. All other routes impassable – blocked by downed trees and power lines. Widespread power outages. Air, pavement 24 degrees. Contractors now cutting trees on KY 538, KY 3291, KY 3294, KY 168.
  • Carter County: Roads covered, with I-64 open, slow lane pretty fair. AA Highway passable, and KY 7 south of Grayson has trees down but is passable for emergency travel. All other routes impassable due to trees, lines down. Crews cutting trees, plowing and treating. Air 17 degrees. Contractors now cutting trees on US 60 from Grayson east to Boyd County.
  • Elliott County: Roads covered, and KY 7 is passable. All Other routes assumed closed by downed trees, lines. Also, KY 173 is blocked near KY 556, but open from KY 556 towards Morehead. Air 18 degrees.
  • Fleming County: Snowing. All routes have been plowed and treated overnight. Roads remain mostly to fully covered. All roads open, but avoid travel or travel with extreme caution. Air 16 degrees.
  • Greenup County: Routes partly covered to mostly covered. All roads open except KY 1 blocked by trees and KY 1458 blocked by trees. Avoid travel or travel with extreme caution. Air 18 degrees.
  • Lewis County: Routes partly covered to mostly covered. Recent snow light snow shower. Most routes are mostly covered. All roads open, but avoid travel or travel with extreme caution. Air 18 degrees.
  • Mason County: Routes mostly to partly covered. All roads open, but avoid travel or travel with extreme caution. Air 14 degrees.
  • Nicholas County: Snowing. All routes have been plowed and treated. Many routes have heavy snow or are ice packed. All roads open, but avoid travel or travel with extreme caution. Air 15 degrees.
  • Rowan County: Crews working priority A routes. Slush freezing roadways. Currently snowing. I-64 passable, with snow cover. KY 1274 blocked in the Woods Road area. KY 1274 from KY 801 to Menifee County, one lane open. KY 1167 blocked with trees and power lines down. KY 3318 blocked with trees down. All other open routes have been plowed or treated during the night. Travel not advised, especially in southern Rowan. Air 17 degrees.

Motorists and residents should be aware that while crews in all counties will remain on 12-hour, rotating shifts clearing roads today, and through the week, the large amount of downed trees and additional snow will hamper efforts. And, low temperatures – particularly in the teens or single digits – will reduce salt effectiveness. While some roads will have pavement visible, all roads will not be clear today. Snow cover on roads could remain for several days.

Motorists are advised to stay off roads for their own safety and to avoid traveling.

ONLINE INFORMATION

For real-time traffic information, to view traffic cams, or to keep up with state snowfighters in your county, visit http://GoKY.ky.gov.

During winter storms, Kentucky Department of Highways snow plow crews work 12-hour shifts to keep highways passable using a priority route system based on traffic volume and connectivity to hospitals and other critical services. Crews focus first on high-priority routes such as interstates and critical roadways, then heavily traveled state routes before turning to lower-volume routes. Snow priority maps for each county can be viewed online at http://SnowKY.ky.gov.

Follow District 9 updates on Twitter and Facebook at http://twitter.com/KYTCDistrict9 or http://facebook.com/KYTCDistrict9.

UPDATE AS OF 6 A.M. TUESDAY, FEB. 16, 2021

FLEMINGSBURG, Ky. (WTVQ) – State highway crews this morning continue to clear snow-covered roads across northeast Kentucky and remove downed trees that have made most roads in Elliott, Carter, and Boyd counties impassable. All roads remain slick and hazardous. Travel is not advised.

At 6 a.m., overnight heavy sleet and snow have stopped and roads are partly to mostly covered in Rowan, Bath, Nicholas, Fleming, Mason, Lewis, and Greenup counties, with some trees reported down. Crews are making progress toward clearer travel lanes, especially on I-64 and high priority routes but slick conditions remain.

In Elliott, Carter, and Boyd counties where heavy freezing rain and sleet fell on already ice-laden trees, only a few main routes are passable – but not clear – as crews have continuously cut new fallen trees. All other state highways are considered impassable and unsafe. The following conditions within each county were reported earlier this morning.

  • Elliott County: Crews cutting trees and treating KY 7 to keep it passable. All other roads are assumed to be blocked by downed trees and power lines. Extra chainsaw crews are coming in to work alongside plow crews. Nearly the entire county is without power, according to utility companies.
  • Carter County: Crews have kept I-64 and the AA Highway open. All other routes are believed to be blocked by power lines and trees. The City of Grayson is without power, and outage reports show more than 90 percent of the county without power.
  • Boyd County: Main routes such as I-64, KY 180 to US 60 to downtown Ashland, US 23, and the Ohio River Bridges are open as crews concentrate on keeping them passable. All other routes appear impassable – blocked by downed trees and power lines. Widespread power outages reported.

State highway crews will remain out in force today, plowing and treating roads and removing downed trees. Crews are receiving assistance from chainsaw crews with the Kentucky Division of Forestry and contractors.

However, due to low temperatures, the large amount of trees, and ice, it will be some time before all roads are clear.

Motorists are advised to stay off roads for their own safety and to avoid traveling.

ONLINE INFORMATION

For real-time traffic information, to view traffic cams, or to keep up with state snowfighters in your county, visit http://GoKY.ky.gov.

During winter storms, Kentucky Department of Highways snow plow crews work 12-hour shifts to keep highways passable using a priority route system based on traffic volume and connectivity to hospitals and other critical services. Crews focus first on high-priority routes such as interstates and critical roadways, then heavily traveled state routes before turning to lower-volume routes. Snow priority maps for each county can be viewed online at http://SnowKY.ky.gov.

Follow District 9 updates on Twitter and Facebook at http://twitter.com/KYTCDistrict9 or http://facebook.com/KYTCDistrict9.

THE SITUATION IS MUCH THE SAME IN DISTRICT 12

Trees down, utility lines down, power out, slick roads. That is what we are dealing with throughout the District, all seven counties (reminder for those of you who forget — Lawrence, Johnson, Martin, Floyd, Knott, Pike, and Letcher).

We had to call off tree cutting last night. Too dark, too dangerous. When you can hear trees cracking and can’t tell where they are, don’t know where they are going to fall, it’s time to stop for the night. Safety takes precedence over clearing roads at that point.

The good thing? We did not get as much freezing rain as expected, mostly just plain rain. Cold temperatures re-froze wet roads everywhere, however, so driving is not safe this morning.

LAWRENCE COUNTY: There are trees and/or utility lines down on EVERY state road except US 23. Maintenance garage is operating with a generator.

NOTE: AEP pulled its crews because of safety concerns. Working in the dark on live lines is dangerous. They are mobilizing now (6:00 a.m.) to come back out.

It will take time to remove utility lines from downed trees before we can cut the trees and clear the roads. Be prepared to stay indoors this morning.

Here is a generaL rundown of the information we have at the moment:

FLOYD COUNTY [11:17 p.m.]

All traffic signals in Prestonsburg are out, including Watergap (KY 80 exits to US 23) due to power outage.

KY 1086 Sizemore Mountain closed by tree

Ky 850 is shut down at mile point 2 due to power lines down.

[12:43 AM]

KY 3384 Town Branch is blocked by trees.

[2:14 AM]

KY 302 is blocked by trees.

LAWRENCE COUNTY

KY 3396 is blocked by a tree at mile point 6.

MARTIN COUNTY [9:35 PM]

D12 maintenance garage has lost power.  Martin County has multiple trees down throughout the county.

LETCHER COUNTY

Pike County Canada and Phelps crews

All these crews report a lot of trees down. Phelps worked on trees down on KY 194 (Grapevine Road).

JOHNSON COUNTY: [1:47 a.m.]

D12 garage without power. Trying to keep US 23, KY 321, and US 460 open.

KY 321 at Starfire Hill is blocked by trees.

KNOTT COUNTY [12:29 AM]

KY 1087 at mile point 17 is open

[12:57 AM]

KY 2029 blocked by trees

[3:15 AM]

KY 1098 blocked by trees

This information is incomplete; communication has been difficult through the night due to power outages, our own facilities converting to generator power, and spotty cell phone signals.

Stay indoors this morning. Give us time to get a handle on this mess; give AEP time to get back out. Chances are, unless you live on US 23, KY 80, US 119, or US 460, you will run into problems trying to get anywhere.

In District 6, which covers Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Harrison, Kenton, Owen, Pendleton and Robertson counties, snow and ice removal crews continue the mission to clear interstates and state roadways today from yesterday’s winter storm that came through the Northern Kentucky area.

The Weather Story from the National Weather Service at Wilmington, Ohio, calls for frigid temperatures Tuesday.

District 6 Snowfighters worked all night on priority routes, roads most heavily traveled and critical routes that lead to hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Temperatures are holding around the 15-degree mark in most areas, making it hard on crew members and equipment.

Also, those temperatures make the snow and ice on the roadways harder to plow.

Shift changes will take place later Tuesday morning.   Crews will keep running their routes to get roads in the best possible condition, to get roadways passible. Forces are using Calcium Chloride to help with the effectiveness of salt.

For those that live on secondary routes, which are the more rural areas, please be patient as crews will get to those routes as soon as possible.

Crews always focus on bridges, overpasses and higher elevated roadways that would be more prone to freezing. These are not normal driving conditions!  With the extreme temperatures, motorists should always be cautious of the potential of black ice. 

We encourage people to just stay home. If you must travel, motorists should simply remember – When it snows, take it slow.  Please be prepared: a full tank of gas, water, food, blanket, flashlight, phone charger and let a loved one know where you are going.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) has a webpage just for snow and ice information. The public can visit SnowKY.ky.gov to learn more about priority routes, access helpful winter weather tips and fact sheets and view informational videos on salt application and snow removal.

In addition, the public can monitor winter operations in real-time on the state’s interactive traffic system – GoKY.ky.gov – to find out what’s happening on state routes in their local counties.

District 6 starts out with 31,350 tons of salt each winter season stored in the domes located at the state maintenance facilities.  Currently, we have 13,300 tons available for treating roadways.  Deliveries are coming in to replenish salt supplies.   There are 135 state and contracted trucks available for this snow event to treat state highways and interstates.

Maintenance crews in KYTC District 6 have responsibility for clearing over 2,000 miles of state-maintained highways in the counties of Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Harrison, Kenton, Owen, Pendleton and Robertson. That equates to 4,670   “lane miles” – all driving lanes from rural state roads to interstate highways.  District 6 state maintenance crews are prepared to work to keep roads in the best possible condition during winter weather events.

In the Northern Kentucky counties of Boone, Kenton and Campbell, District 6 is responsible for 1,868 lane miles of roadway. Crews have stockpiled 16,500 tons of salt and over 26,000 gallons of brine for de-icing in the three counties. Seventy-five trucks are available for snow and ice removal – three of which will concentrate on the six-mile section of I-75 between Buttermilk Pike and the Brent Spence Bridge that includes the “Cut in the Hill.”

When snowstorms hit, crews in affected counties are assigned 12-hour shifts to plow and treat state roadways on a priority basis – part of the Transportation Cabinet’s mission to keep traffic moving in a safe manner with an emphasis on maintaining mobility along critical corridors.

Priority A routes include critical state routes and those most heavily traveled, such as interstates and main roads between counties or to hospitals, which receive the highest priority for snow-clearing efforts. Priority B and C routes include other important but lesser-traveled state routes.

Every snowstorm is different and presents unique challenges, such as air temperature, pavement temperature, the timing of snowfall and ice. Last winter season, 2019 – 2020, District 6 crews used 9,900 tons of salt and 1,175 gallons of liquid chloride.  No brine was needed for snow and ice events. In all, District 6 spent $3.4 million on equipment, materials and labor.

You are an important part!  Safe travel begins with YOU!

Be prepared:

The following measures will help keep motorists safe and prepared:

  • Put yourself in emergency mode
  • Pay attention to weather advisories. Weather will impact your commute on some level
  • Travel only as necessary during major snow events. It’s better to be stuck at home than to be stuck on the road
  • Maintain a safe distance from snowplows and other heavy highway equipment
  • Do not pass snowplows on the shoulder
  • Allow time for a slower commute
  • Winterize vehicles
  • Supply vehicles with blankets, flashlight and an emergency supply kit
  • Know before you go. Navigate traffic with GoKYTRIMARC or via Waze and check traffic conditions before you travel
  • Eliminate distractions (e.g., operating phone and eating) while driving
  • Cooperate with the expectations of the Quick Clearance law, which requires drivers to move vehicles to the shoulder in the event of a non-injury crash

Follow KYTCDistrict6 on our Facebook page at KYTC District 6 Facebook and on our Twitter page at KYTC District 6 Twitter.