Kentucky News – Road Conditions and Weather

HIGHWAY DISTRICT 12 –District 12 put 73 snow plows and 11 graders on the roads shortly after daylight this morning, when snow reached plowable levels. Aided by eight contract plow operators, D-12 Snowfighters are working across the district to keep roads passable through this winter storm.

Early Monday afternoon, Knott and Letcher crews were plowing mostly covered roads. Every other county in the district (Pike, Floyd, Johnson, Martin, and Lawrence) reported completely covered roads. Six of the ten maintenance garages are using graders and contract graders are assisting in Johnson and Floyd counties. Snow accumulation atnoon ranged from 2-6” with air temperatures at 15-20 degrees.


Snowy Roads Near Tollesboro - Photo by Tammie Brown
Snowy Roads Near Tollesboro – Photo by Tammie Brown

The snow is mostly a dry powder, easily plowed, but coming down in such volume that plowed driving lanes quickly become covered again.


At some point, operators will stop spreading salt and concentrate only on plowing. Pavement temperatures are below the point at which salt is effective. With the necessity of repeated plowing, salt would be scraped away, in any event.


At 4 o’clock this afternoon, crews will switch to 12-hour shifts for the duration of the storm. Snow is expected to continue falling until tomorrow morning. “We won’t see black pavement until the snow stops,” said Darold Slone, Engineering Branch Manager for Lawrence, Martin, Johnson, and Floyd counties. “The more the snow compacts from traffic, combined with single digit temperatures tonight, the more dangerous the roads could be in the morning.”

Beautiful Photo of snow during February 15th storm - Photo by Tammie Brown
Beautiful photo of covered bridge in Lewis County covered in snow during February 15th storm – Photo by Tammie Brown

Paxton Weddington, Engineering Branch Manager for Pike, Knott, and Letcher counties, said that people need to remember that the safest thing about their vehicles is the driver. “You are person who determines whether you are safe on the roads,” Weddington said. “No roads in District 12 are closed. We urge you to stay at home and not get out, but if you feel you must, remember that safety should be your first concern. Your safety is certainly our first concern; that’s why all our highway equipment operators are risking their safety to clear the roads.”


Weddington and Slone both urged people who must travel to give the snowplows a wide berth. “Give them time and space to work,” Slone said. “Do not try to challenge a snow plow, pass a plow, or tailgate one. They have to a certain speed to get the job done, and they cannot stop on a dime.”


On Sunday, Gov. Steve Beshear issued a statement advising Kentuckians to stay put today if possible. “Our first priority must be safety,” the Governor’s statement said.


For those who must avoid travel, here are some tips for safe winter driving:

  • Slow down.
  • Always wear your seat belt.
Lewis County Barn during snow storm - Photo by Tammie Brown
Lewis County Barn during snow storm – Photo by Tammie Brown

Driving Considerations

  • Leave early – allow more travel time; expect delays.
  • Increase distance between vehicles – it takes significantly longer to stop on snow-covered or icy roadways.
  • Clear all windows on your vehicle prior to travel – having unobstructed vision is vital to avoid running off of the road or having a collision.
  • Turn on your vehicle’s headlamps. Remove any dirt, mud or snow.
  • Use caution on bridges and overpasses, as they are susceptible to freezing before roadways.
  • Avoid using cruise control – cruise can cause the vehicle’s wheels to continue turning on a slippery surface when speed needs to be decreased.


Be Prepared

  • Ensure your vehicle has a full tank of gas in the event you are stranded for an extended period of time.
  • Charge your cellular phone prior to departure.
  • Take a blanket.
  • Notify a family member or a friend of your travel plans prior to departure – if your travel is interrupted, someone will know.


Collision Information

  • Be patient – bad weather also limits the capabilities of law enforcement officers and emergency crews and increases response time. Also, keep in mind that they will be experiencing a high volume of requests for service.
  • Attempt to move your vehicle out of the roadway if you are involved in a minor, non-injury traffic collision; especially if you are in a dangerous area such as a curve or a blind hill.
  • If your vehicle is stranded or wrecked but not in the roadway, attempts to recover your vehicle will have to wait until conditions improve for safety considerations.


Look out for stranded motorists. If you see or suspect that someone is stranded, call 911 or contact the Kentucky State Police at 1-800-222-5555.

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