Hopkins County, along with the rest of western Kentucky, is preparing for winter weather predicted to impact the area today and Thursday.
According to the National Weather Service office in Paducah, Hopkins County was put under a Winter Storm Watch on Tuesday, which was upgraded to an Ice Storm Warning by Tuesday afternoon.
The incoming weather has led Dawson Springs Independent Schools Superintendent Leonard Whalen to move all instruction to virtual for the remainder of the week.
Freezing rain that moved into the region Wednesday morning is expected to continue through early Today before winding down, NWS Meteorologist Derrick Snyder said.
“We’re concerned, especially about slick roads, bridges and overpasses and untreated surfaces. We could also see some scattered power outages in the area as well,” he said.
Snyder said stronger winds are expected today as well.
“We could see some 20 to 25 mph wind gusts today, and if there is still ice on the trees and power lines, that could cause additional damage,” said Snyder.
Snyder said this would be a long-duration event with light to moderate freezing rain, which lets the ice accumulate better.
Thursday night’s forecast calls for a low of around 17 degrees.
On Friday, the high will be 29 degrees but sunny and remain below freezing throughout the weekend with a low of 13 degrees on Friday night and a high of 23 degrees on Saturday.
On Tuesday, the Hopkins County Road Department spent the day prepping for the weather conditions.
“We are making sure our equipment is up and running and in good shape,” said Ken Todd the Director of the Hopkins County Public Works Department. “We do that all year around to make sure we’re always ready. We are hooking up our plows, spreaders and making sure all of that is 100% and just waiting on the weather.”
Todd said the department only uses salt on county roads.
“We don’t have any way of pretreating but we are looking at different options to be ready for next year,” he said. “Right now, all we can do is react once the snow is on the ground.”
Hopkins County EMA Director Nick Bailey said the expected ice accumulation amount is on the threshold to where the NWS upgraded the county to be under an Ice Storm Warning.
Bailey said he had reached out to water departments in the area who informed him they were upping their water levels in their tanks to help with the possibility of a power outage.
Bailey said he felt the community and region was in a better place dealing with this storm as opposed to the ice storm in 2009.
“Electrical infrastructures have been upgraded, there’s been efforts in clearing right of ways and moving trees away from the power lines,” he said. “We’re maintaining our readiness with back up generators and fueling up our vehicles, and making sure we’re ready to go and on stand by.”
Bailey said the use of generators and other alternate forms of heating and power in the event of an electrical power outage must be done safely.
“With power outages, you have more alternate heat uses through propane, kerosene and others and you also have the generator use,” said Bailey. “We have had multiple carbon monoxide issues with residents ending up in the hospital because they are running generators in their garages, and that’s not a well-ventilated structure. Even if you have the garage door open, that doesn’t mean anything. If you have a wind coming in, it will take it to the path of least resistance, which is usually in your home. (Generators) should be placed completely outside and not in a garage or shed — or anything like that.”
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 2 Snow and Ice Team out of Madisonville started pre-treating highways in anticipation of the weather Tuesday.
“Motorists are encouraged to keep in mind the possibility of falling trees and branches blocking the highway,” according to a news release from the KYTC post. “Drivers should be alert for slow-moving trucks on the road spraying brine on bridges, overpasses and other potential trouble spots.”
The KYTC Post 2 also added that 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.”