People urged to stay home due to refreezing on roads

People urged to stay home due to refreezing on KY roads
Semi crash near Charleston Exit going toward Sikeston on Friday evening. (Source: Chad Price, cNews)
Semi crash near Charleston Exit going toward Sikeston on Friday evening. (Source: Chad Price, cNews)
Some of the 5 foot snowdrifts in Graves County, Ky. on Friday evening. (Source: KYTCDistrict1/Facebook)
Some of the 5 foot snowdrifts in Graves County, Ky. on Friday evening. (Source: KYTCDistrict1/Facebook)
Traffic is backed up on the southbound lanes of Interstate 55 near the 8 mile marker after numerous crashes. (Source: Jerry Hudgen/Caruthersville PD)
Traffic is backed up on the southbound lanes of Interstate 55 near the 8 mile marker after numerous crashes. (Source: Jerry Hudgen/Caruthersville PD)
This is southbound I-55 at the 9 mile marker. (Source: Eddie Holloway/Facebook)
This is southbound I-55 at the 9 mile marker. (Source: Eddie Holloway/Facebook)
Kentucky (Source: Derrion Henderson/KFVS)
Kentucky (Source: Derrion Henderson/KFVS)

(KFVS) - The winter storm Thursday night into Friday walloped the Bootheel of Missouri, western Kentucky, and northwest Tennessee causing slick roads and lots of crashes.

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory for Charleston, Mo. until 3 a.m. on Saturday due to blowing and drifting snow. Some drifts up to around 2 feet have been reported with northerly wind gusts from 30 to 40 mph.

According to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, several snow plows are off the road due to slick conditions.

Blowing wind is making for near-blizzard conditions and that in turn will create extremely hazardous driving conditions.

Into the nighttime hours, drivers are advised to continue avoiding unnecessary travel.

Low temperatures in the low 20s will create the opportunity for refreezing. The big concern is that slush and water from melting snow may refreeze.

With the continuation of high winds there is an ongoing opportunity for drifting snow.

There have been several instances where highways have been plowed down to bare pavement only to have the wind blow snow back across the driving surface.

If you venture out on Friday night or on Saturday morning, use appropriate caution. Simply slowing down can help improve safety for you and your family.

The impact of the winter storm is expected to continue through the weekend.

Road conditions


All "A" and "B" Snow Priority Routes are in good condition, many with dry pavement from the sunshine and wind. As of Sunday, Jan. 24, a few crews were back out in areas that received greater ice and snow accumulations.

Some "C" Routes continue to have sections of snow cover, especially where trees or an embankment blocks sunshine from hitting the pavement. These routes have all been salted and it will take time for the salt to cut through the accumulated ice and snowpack.

Lower wind speed and crusting of snow has helped to reduce issues with drifting snow. This was not an issue today.

With overnight temperatures expected to be near 30 degrees, instances of refreezing and the possibility of black ice are greatly diminished. However, motorists should continue to be alert for snow packed sections of pavement, especially on secondary routes where shaded areas may continue to be snow covered. Anyone who ventures out through the night or for the Monday commute should be prepared to slow down and use caution. While most pavement is cleared, it is possible to top a hill or round a curve to encouter a snow-covered section of pavement that remains. Caution is required.

All crews are in for the night.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet crews in District 1 and District 2 report they have received a lot of help from the sunshine on Saturday, Jan. 23.

While ambient air temperatures have been in the 31 degree range, the sun had raised pavement temperatures up into the mid-40's by mid-afternoon at most locations. That has helped to activate salt and other ice-fighting chemicals.

Most "A" Priority Routes such as Interstates, parkways, and US Highways are cleared. Crews have moved to "B" and "C" Snow Priority Routes in a big way today.

Our "A" Routes are in good condition, many with dry pavement from the sunshine. However, many of our "B" and "C" Routes continue to have sections of snow cover, especially where trees or an embankment blocks sunshine from hitting the pavement.

While driving conditions are greatly improved from Friday, low temperatures expected tonight create a threat of refreezing. Anyone who plans to be on the road tonight or early Sunday should be alert for icy spots and the possibility of black ice at any location where the pavement is damp as low temperatures approach the 10 degree mark.

Several crews battled drifts ranging from three to six feet deep overnight and into the morning hours today. Henderson County and Graves County both had blocked highways. Union County also battled drifts. During the overnight hours and early today heavy equipment was used to bust through the drifts.  Whenever possible, the snow was pushed back to allow two-lanes of travel.  Due to the depth of the drifts, there are still a few isolated sections where traffic is restricted to one lane. Drifts are expected to be less of an issue now that winds have dropped substantially.

Some highway crews expect to complete their work for this event tonight. However, many will continue snow and ice operations into the night hours.  Several expect to return to work on Sunday morning to complete work on their "C" Routes.

Finally, our KYTC District 2 counties are mourning the loss of a coworker.  44 year old Cris Adams died while plowing snow in Christian County this morning.  His truck slid into a ditch just before 6:00 a.m. He called a supervisor to bring a tandem truck to help free his stuck plow. When the supervisor arrived Adams was unresponsive. At the time he called for assistance, Adams did not appear to be in any kind of distress. Chris Adams was a 16 year transportation employee. His wife and 2 children and his Christian County coworkers have our sympathy and our prayers.

Parts of western Kentucky saw as much as eight inches of snow and the remnants will likely have an impact on the roads throughout the weekend.

As of Friday night, Jan. 22, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet crews in District 1 continued to battle with snow drifts.

Because of the size of some drifts in Graves County, KYTC crews were forced to close highways at the following locations:

  • KY 339 between KY 303 and US 45
  • KY 384 at 2mm
  • KY 944 entire route

All of these highways reportedly had snow drifts in the four to five foot range.

Keith Todd with KYTC continues to wish to remind everyone that drifting snow and refreezing will create driving hazards during the night. He said they continue to urge motorists to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel.

The Ballard County Sheriff's Office posted on Facebook that roads are extremely dangerous on Friday evening. They said numerous crashes are reported throughout the county.

The Murray Police Department released a statement on Friday night saying several reports were coming in of stranded motorists due to the roads quickly refreezing. They are urging people to stay home.

The Calloway County Sheriff's Office also reported county roads and city streets were freezing back over on Friday night. They posted on their Facebook page that roads are more slick now than earlier on Friday because any melting had turned to ice.

According to Kentucky State Police, since 7 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 22, they responded to the following:

  • 1 non-injury crash in Christian County
  • 1 non-injury crash in Crittenden County
  • 1 non-injury crash in Muhlenberg County
  • 1 motorist assist in Caldwell County
  • 4 motorist assists in Christian County
  • 2 motorist assists in Crittenden County
  • 7 motorist assists in Hopkins County
  • 5 motorist assists in Muhlenberg County
  • 1 motorist assist in Webster County

Police say interstates and parkways remain slick and hazardous. Secondary roads are snow-covered. They ask that you avoid travel if possible.

Even thought the snow stopped in Graves County on Friday evening, the wind was still pretty strong. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Keith Todd said their focus overnight was going to be on treating the streets that may freeze over.

A truck stop just south of the Ohio River was packed with truckers taking a breather for the night, one of which is putting his drive on hold until further notice because of the road conditions further south.

Keith Todd with KYTC said I-24 was in good shape, but at least four Graves County roads were closed as high winds put fresh powder onto the road.

"You're blinded! So you tend to slow down even more; and I'm one that's even more cautious because I hate the snow," Linda Mueller from Michigan said. "I ended up only doing like 25, maybe 20 miles per hour all the way over here."

Mayfield was nearly a ghost town on Friday. Few cars were on the road and few businesses were open.

Todd encouraged everyone to stay off the road if it's not an emergency. If you do have to travel, keep an eye out for black ice.

Greeted by heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures, KYTC snow and ice crews began operations at midnight as waves of freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and snow began sweeping across the region.

The icy precipitation created hazardous driving conditions for the public and for highway crews out treating the roadways.

By mid-morning, most of the freezing precipitation changed into heavy blowing snow.

Much of the region received less ice that expected on the front end of the storm.

However, snow accumulations ran above expectations ranging from about 3 to 6 inches.

The freezing rain and sleet have transitioned over to snow in Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Crittenden, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Livingston, Lyon, Marshall, McCracken, Trigg counties.

While Western Kentucky avoided some of the more disruptive aspects of this storm, as you travel eastward in Kentucky downed trees, power outages, stranded motorists and jackknifed tractor trailers are much more common.

The impact of the winter storm is expected to continue through the weekend.

KYTC is strongly encouraging everyone to stay home and off the road as crews will be somewhat limited in their ability to improve driving conditions.

Some crews have managed to make some runs along "C" Snow Priority Routes.  Most counties expect to be moving to "C" routes tonight or during the day Satruday.

Snow removal efforts are initially focused on "A" Snow Priority Routes which include interstates, parkways, and US Highways. Crews then move to"B" and "C" Snow Priority Routes which are mainly secondary and rural roads once "A" routes have been cleared.

To see the priority network for snow removal, you can click here and select a county.

The National Guard is sending several heavy-duty wreckers to Western Kentucky to be pre-positioned to assist with clearing crash sites on major routes.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet crews from District 1 will be stationed along I-24 and a couple in District 2 to be stationed at Hopkinsville and maybe Madisonville.

According to KYTC, there have been reports of multiple slide offs. Highway crews are reporting several trucks off the road and drivers are reporting having difficulty making their rounds to spread salt.

The Calloway County Sheriff's Office says 641 South is covered. It is impossible to see the lanes and very difficult to judge the shoulders. Drivers are urged to stay off roads if they can and extra careful if they must drive.

KYTC reports a jackknifed semi just a few hundred feet on the Tennessee side of the Kentucky-Tennessee State Line is blocking both westbound lanes of I-24.  Motorists are being advised to self-detour via Clarksville Exit 4 or Exit 1 via various routes in Tennessee to return to I-24 at Hopkinsville-Ft. Campbell Exit 86 in Kentucky. Estimated duration 2 hours.

Southeast Missouri

The Charleston Department of Public Safety posted a Winter Weather Advisory issued by the National Weather Service for Charleston until 3 a.m. on Saturday.

Although accumulating snow is over in the area, blowing and drifting snow will continue through much of the evening. Some drifts to around 2 feet have been reported, according to the advisory, with northerly wind gusts from 30 to 40 mph.

Be especially cautious if traveling through rural areas and out in open country where wind speeds will be higher. East/west oriented roads will be the most affected.

Pemiscot County was hit hard with ice and snow that crews were still working to clear on Friday night.

There were a few patches of ice left on the roads, but MoDOT area engineer, David Wyman, said he's brought in more trucks to help clear those trouble spots.

We talked to some people who said once they made it past the wreck, they pulled over at rest areas and motels to seek refuge and call it a day.

"Due to the weather circumstances, it's pretty dangerous out here," Tony Rogers, of Marston, said. "We've already noticed several vehicles slide off on the side of the road, and we just didn't want to take the chance."

"It's not worth getting hurt or injured or somebody else possibly," Mike Forbess, of Marston, said. "It's better to be safe than sorry."

We also talked to some truck drivers who had to be diverted. They say they're staying on I-55 because anything through Tennessee is too big of a mess to travel on.

Between 9 p.m. on Thursday and 1 p.m. on Friday, Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers had responded to 59 stranded motorists and 65 crashes.

The southbound lanes of Interstate 55 were reopened at the 8 mile marker after numerous crashes closed it Friday morning.

Several vehicles also slid off into the median of Hwy. 60 in Stoddard and Scott counties on Friday morning.

On Thursday night, the Poplar Bluff, Mo. Police Department posted on their Facebook page that freezing rain had started to fall and officers were working several crashes. They asked that people not travel unless absolutely necessary.

At 11:15 p.m. on Thursday, the police department posted that the roads were extremely slick and ice covered. They say police, Butler County sheriff's deputies and troopers with the Missouri State Highway Patrol were working numerous crashes.

On US 67 there was a four car crash that sent two people to a local hospital. The highway patrol reports it happened as 32-year-old Tiffany Phillips, of Poplar Bluff, was stopped on an icy road. During that time 52-year-old Jose Zamarripa, of Brownsville, Tx., hit Phillips' car in addition to two semis also stopped on the road.

The highway patrol reported the two passengers in Zamarripa's 2003 international were taken by ambulance to a Poplar Bluff hospital with minor injuries.

KY governor declares state of emergency

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has declared a statewide emergency from a winter storm that hit parts of Kentucky with a combination of ice and heavy snow.

Bevin said Friday that the emergency declaration provides local officials with immediate access to state resources in dealing with the storm.

The governor is urging people to stay off the roads as authorities deal with a multitude of wrecks on slick roads.

Michael Dossett, director of Kentucky Emergency Management, says the state has endured the worst part of the snow. He says the storm is expected to move out of the region Friday evening.

Dossett reports sporadic power outages in the state.

Power outages

Hundreds of Gibson Electric Membership Corporation members lost power Friday morning at various times, but as of noon, service was restored to all members.

TVA had a transmission line down that is causing outages for about 430 Gibson Electric Membership Corporation members' homes and businesses in Obion County served through the Woodland Mills substation around 10:45 a.m. The affected areas were north of Union City, northwest of Union City and in and around Woodland Mills.

According to Western Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative, crews responding to an outage in south Calloway that was affecting about 1,760 members. As of 7:30 power was restored to the area. It was out for about 2 hours.

Western Kentucky Rural Electric Cooperative reports customers should remember that response time is slower than usual due to very poor travel conditions.

The First Alert Weather Team has issued A First Alert Action Day for FRIDAY. When we issue an Action Day it means disruptive and dangerous weather is in store for the Heartland.

A strong storm system is developing and moving toward the Heartland. This system will have the potential to bring a major snow accumulation to parts of the area. Because of this, we are issuing a First Alert Action Day. The greatest area under a risk of heavy snow is our southeastern counties across western Kentucky, northwestern Tennessee and the Bootheel of Missouri. Rain, freezing rain and sleet will move into the southern counties later Thursday evening. As we head toward Friday morning, this precipitation will turn to snow which could be heavy at times. Across our northern counties, we could see a few flurries or light snow with only minor accumulations. In addition to the snow, Friday will be very windy. Lows Friday morning will be in the 20s. Highs Friday will reach the upper 20s lower 30s.

Winter gear flying off shelves in Paducah, KY

At a hardware store just north of Interstate 24 near downtown Paducah, winter gear has been flying off the shelves for the past few days.

Hank Brothers True Value Manager Jim Hank, said their supplies are running thin, but he considers himself lucky because a resupply truck is on its way.

"We've gone through all of our ice melt, all of our snow shovels, most of our sleds," Hank said. "These winter items are just going out the door."

Some customers we talked to say they were hunting for kerosene, propane and even basics like snow shovels.

At sunset on Thursday, the temperature dropped several degrees but the snowfall had yet to begin.

A McCracken County sheriff's deputy in the area said his most common call once the snow begins falling is a call to check up on the elderly.

Alan Sexton, a Reidland, Ky. resident, said he always makes sure to check on his in-laws whenever winter weather hits.

"Making sure for them that their heat is working, they've got a gas fireplace," Sexton said. "Even just checking to make sure they have enough propane to keep the fireplace going."

MSU to close, SEMO basketball game rescheduled

Murray State University will close, including their regional campuses, at 10 p.m. on Thursday, through Friday. The Murray basketball game was pushed up to 6 p.m. on Thursday to avoid the weather. You can click here for more.

The SEMO and UT Martin doubleheader was rescheduled to Sunday, Jan. 24 due to weather. You can click here for more.

KYTC says, "Think ahead"

With the likelihood of ice followed by snow overnight creating extremely hazardous driving conditions, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and area emergency management agencies are asking everyone to think ahead and plan now for the approaching winter storm.

  • Please avoid unnecessary travel.  Unnecessary travel might include a trip to the store for cigarettes, soft drinks, or a movie rental.
  • Reschedule medical appointments, if possible. If you have a medical appointment or a dialysis treatment scheduled for Friday or Saturday, make arrangements to get treatment Thursday, or be prepared to wait until Monday.  That will allow you to stay off the road until highway crews have time to treat, plow, and clear roadways.
  • Carefully monitor KFVS12 for forecast updates, and be very aware of localized weather conditions.
  • Prepare for the worst. If you are required to work, take a sleeping bag and food to be prepared to spend the night.  If you have an extended commute to work, consider staying with a friend or relative closer to your job site.  This will reduce the number of miles traveled on ice and snow covered roadways.

Some hospitals, nursing homes, and other critical services may require employees to stay on site to assure essential services.

Emergency agencies will be hard pressed to respond to true emergencies, so calls for non-emergency transportation may have to be turned down.

Kentucky highway crews are prepared to work around the clock to do what they can to improve driving conditions.

However, when ice is included in the forecast ahead of the snow, it limits what can be done to keep traffic moving.

Traffic advisories for the 12 counties of KYTC Highway District 1 are available on their Facebook page. Traffic advisories for the 11 counties of KYTC Highway District 2 are available on their Facebook page.

A First Alert Action Day is your cue to take action.

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Copyright 2016 KFVS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this story.