Iced in; first winter storm brings freezing conditions
With the threat of freezing rain, Ballard County braced itself for what could have been another ice storm that had residents thinking back to the 2009 incident that crippled the county. Instead, it was more sleet and snow than ice that blanketed the region; although, ice did affect the area.
Following the ice and snow that began falling Thursday in western Kentucky, forecasters predicted a second round of wintry precipitation. The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for western Kentucky into effect at midnight Saturday.
The advisory was to continue until 5 p.m. Sunday, with up to a tenth of an inch of ice accumulation possible. A mixture of snow, sleet and freezing rain was expected to turn to rain as the weather warmed.
This was after the weather service’s Paducah office reported having received 2/10 of an inch of ice and about 5 inches of snow late Thursday night.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Keith Todd said the ice caused difficulty because more ice called for more salt. Pretreatment was difficult because rain would wash away the salt before the freezing precipitation arrived. The salt, in addition to washing away, would become ineffective if the temperature dropped below 18 degrees.
“Our crews would much rather have 10 inches of snow than a tenth of an inch of ice,” Todd said. “Any time ice is involved, the rules change.”
Weather conditions spawned a number of accidents in Ballard County throughout the course of the weekend. The Friday morning commute was affected as US 60 was closed for several hours due to a semi vs. pole accident with the box and trailer being broken in half. This occurred at the north leg of the US 51/US 60 "T" Intersection in Wickliffe. The crash blocked travel from Wickliffe to Barlow.
Friday also saw a tractor-trailer in the ditch on HWY 121 just outside of the Carbon Plant entrance. Another rig had to be pulled from the shoulder of HWY 60 in La Center just across from C-Plant, and a salt truck had to be pulled from a ditch in Kevil.
Although Saturday was a bit quieter as round two of the wintery precipitation was on its way, Sunday morning brought about yet another semi off the road in Wickliffe. This time, the driver of a semi truck and trailer failed to navigate a turn and ended up in the yard of Stanley and Beth Hunt, just feet away from striking the house.
Ballard County Emergency Management Director Travis Holder said only two passenger vehicle accidents were reported; one was of a van in the ditch in front of Dr. Butler’s office in Wickliffe. “The people yielded to the warnings,” said Holder. “Other than the two cars, the county did well. Nothing really, just except commercial.”
The cold temperatures following the initial storm system kept road temperatures below freezing, thereby causing several closing and cancellations throughout the area due to continued poor driving conditions.
In addition to a multitude a church services being cancelled, the annual Barlow House Christmas Open House was rescheduled for Saturday, Dec. 14th. The 2nd annual Wickliffe Bazaar was also rescheduled for Dec. 13th and 14th. The Ballard Telephone Open House was cancelled and has not been rescheduled.
First Southern National Bank and Cathy’s Cottage have also rescheduled their open houses for Friday, Dec. 13th.
Much to the glee of area students, Ballard County Schools were closed on Friday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. More light snow is expected toward the end of this week.