More Snow Than Ice From First Winter Storm
By WKyStar Staff
After days of preparing for the threat of freezing rain, the Ohio Valley instead received larger doses of sleet and snow Thursday night and Friday.
Early fears of massive power outages did not materialize as western Kentucky received about two tenths of an inch of freezing rain late Thursday. This was a relief to local utilities, many of whom had rounded up extra linemen ready to restore lost power if necessary.
Record temperatures in the 70s earlier in the week stored enough warmth in the ground to keep roads from freezing over Thursday evening, but by early Friday morning roads inevitably deteriorated as sleet piled up quickly through the day.
Paducah received about five inches of sleet and snow through Friday afternoon. Southern Illinois and southeast Missouri got six inches or more in most locations, and some areas like Carbondale and Murphysboro were buried under twelve inches of the white stuff. Jackson and Franklin counties in southern Illinois declared "snow emergencies," with restrictions on where people could park vehicles that might impede snow plows.
Radar also indicated that Fulton and Hickman counties in western Kentucky were harder hit by snow than most other counties.
Regardless of the eventual totals, almost all schools called off Friday sessions, and most city and county government offices closed their doors.
Road conditions varied from slick to impassable across the region, with layers of slush and ice under white coatings of sleet and snow. Friday morning traffic was much lighter than normal since the storm arrived hours earlier, but there were still dozens of cars that found their way into ditches. One highway department salt truck overturned, and a semi trailer in Wickliffe blocked the highway and approach to the Wickliffe/Cairo bridge.
The Brookport bridge closed due to ice around midnight Friday, and the Dorena-Hickman ferry closed Thursday afternoon. This temporarily left the I-24 bridge as the only route between Kentucky and Illinois, a tenuous connection with only one lane of traffic open in either direction during the longstanding repair work on the bridge.