Kentucky braces for ice storm as schools close

February 3, 2022 GMT

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky braced for an ice storm Thursday as schools and state office buildings closed and the governor urged people to avoid driving if possible.

Ice coated portions of western Kentucky, and freezing rain from the slow-moving storm was expected to cause hazardous conditions across large swaths of the Bluegrass State.

“While some of the ice accumulation predictions have been somewhat lowered, the predictions in many areas are still a quarter to a half an inch, which can cause serious problems on the roadways, can cause downed limbs that then knock down power lines,” Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday.

Beshear declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm.

The precipitation started as rain, complicating the response. It meant roads couldn’t be treated ahead of time with brine and rock salt because the rain would wash it away, officials said. Precipitation was expected to change over to freezing rain and then snow in parts of the state.

“The number one message is stay off the roadways if possible,” the governor said.

State officials reported several thousand power outages by midday Thursday, but the number was expected to grow as ice-covered tree limbs downed power lines.

Even with lowered icing predictions, the storm still posed a serious threat, officials said.

“Don’t let your guard down,” said state emergency management director Michael Dossett. “Whether this is a reduced amount of icing, any icing is bad.”

Elsewhere, the concern was for the possibility of flooding in south-central and east-central Kentucky, Beshear said.