Friday, January 22, 2016

Freezing rain, wintry mix precede snow; winter storm starts as predicted

HIGHWAY DISTRICT 12 – Friday, January 22, 2016 – Freezing rain started in the early morning hours throughout Letcher County, part of Knott County, southern Pike County and southern Floyd County, bringing in Winter Storm Jonas precisely as forecast.

Crews started treating roadways at 5 a.m. By six o’clock, District 12 had freezing rain/ice in Letcher, Knott, Floyd, and some parts of Pike County. Heavy snow started falling in Pikeville, Betsy Layne, Canada/Sidney area, and Phelps area, except for Card Mountain, which still has freezing rain.

“This weather event is now reality,” said Darold Slone, Engineering Branch Manager and the district’s snow and ice coordinator. “If it plays out as expected, we could have snowfall as much as one to three inches an hours at times during the day today. That is why both our crews are out at the same time through late afternoon. Then we go to one crew until midnight, when the other crew comes back in. We will cover this event 24 hours a day until it’s over.”

Slone said the district is also prepared for possible consequences from the ice and heavy, wet snow. Chain saws are full and ready to tackle any trees that fall and block roadways. In addition to snow plows, the district’s graders are available to assist as the snow accumulates.

“People absolutely need to stay off the roads,” Slone warned, “Not only are icy roads treacherous, if we get three inches of snow an hour, it will overwhelm even our resources until it backs off. We will definitely plow and treat continuously, but we may not see black pavement until Sunday or Monday. Roads cannot be completely cleared until the snow stops falling. The predicted accumulations of up to 18 inches throughout the district will be a real challenge."