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Wintry forecast sparks memories of last year’s storm

Wintry forecast sparks memories of last year’s storm

Posted: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 9:07 pm
By: Chris Menees Messenger Staff Reporter

 

By CHRIS MENEES Staff Reporter It’s almost like déja vu. Freezing rain, sleet and snow were in the forecast one year ago — when Obion County was slammed Jan. 26-27, 2009, by an ice storm that left downed trees and widespread power outages. Wintry weather is in the forecast again today — but it doesn’t appear to be anything of the same magnitude as last year’s event. A winter storm watch is in effect for Obion County from Thursday evening through Friday afternoon. The current forecast from the National Weather Service calls for breezy conditions with snow, sleet and a slight chance of freezing rain Thursday night, followed by snow after midnight. Ice accumulation is predicted to be less than a quarter-inch, with light snow accumulations possible and lows in the mid-20s. The forecast Friday is for breezy conditions and snow in the morning, then snow likely in the afternoon and ice accumulation of less than a quarter-inch, with light snow accumulations possible. Highs will only reach the mid-30s, accompanied by northeast winds of 15 to 20 mph and gusts near 30 mph. The chance of precipitation rises from 80 percent Thursday night to 90 percent Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Obion County Emergency Management director Danny Jowers said he is maintaining close contact with the National Weather Service and is keeping close tabs on the developing winter weather. “I don’t think this storm is quite the same set-up (as the 2009 ice storm),” he said. “It may be a significant snow event. One difference is (the 2009 storm) hung around for days and days on a stall front, where this storm (forecast for Thursday into Friday) is a pretty quick-moving storm.” Forecasters also don’t anticipate the ice accumulation that accompanied the 2009 storm, he added. Jowers said Obion County may never see another weather event exactly like the ice storm of 2009, but local emergency officials learned many lessons in its aftermath — including the need to have equipment ready to go at a moment’s notice and the need to have a little better shelter system in place for people who may be left without electricity. Obion County Emergency Management and its Local Emergency Planning Committee have launched a new Web site that will allow local residents to get the most up-to-date information on weather and any shelter closings or openings. The Web site can be accessed at www.obioncountylepc.org, where visitors will find a link to Twitter announcements and an active radar. In Kentucky Kentucky Transportation Cabinet crews in Kentucky’s 12 westernmost counties will be out pre-treating highways today in preparation for the predicted winter storm. They will be spraying salt brine on road surfaces. Keith Todd, public information officer for Districts 1 and 2 of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, which includes Fulton County, Ky., said pre-treating of roadways with brine is a cost-effective way to improve safety when winter precipitation is in the forecast. The brine dries to a fine powder available to be activated by falling snow in the early hours of a winter storm to help improve safety. It also keeps snow and ice from bonding to the pavement, which makes it easier to push it off the roadway once accumulations require plowing. Crews will be starting on “B” and “C” Snow Priority Routes today. Crews do the lower-priority routes first because they have less traffic and the material will stay on the roadway longer. Thursday, crews will do “A” Snow Priority Routes. Todd said today and Thursday, motorists should be on the alert for slow-moving vehicles involved in the pre-treating process on all area highways. As the winter storm approaches, motorists are also encouraged to closely monitor weather forecast updates. District 1 highway maintenance crews are responsible for 2,800 miles of roadway in 12 western Kentucky counties, according to Todd, who said running all routes one time during a snowstorm is the equivalent of driving non-stop from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles All highways may be run several times in the course of a winter storm. A list of Snow Priority Routes for District 1 counties is available online at www.transportation.ky.gov/D1/Snow.htm. A dusting of snow that hit parts of Kentucky on Tuesday may just be a preview of things to come by the end of the week, the Associated Press reported today. National Weather Service meteorologist John Denman in Louisville, Ky., said the dusting that fell across parts of Kentucky may be followed by as much as 4-8 inches of snow Friday as a storm system developing across Texas moves into the South. Denman said the heaviest snow is expected to fall across southern and southeastern Kentucky, while parts of Tennessee will get ice and freezing rain. Forecasts call for 4-8 inches of snow along the Kentucky-Tennessee border, with 2-4 inches in the counties south of Louisville and two inches or less along Interstate 64. Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at cmenees@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 1.27.10

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