by Heather Tomlinson
The frigid cold air is taking its leave. And it can’t come too soon.
But all in all, Pulaski County survived mostly unscathed the two days of single-digit daytime temperatures and nighttime sub-zero wind chills.
“Everybody’s kind of stayed off the roads,” said Pulaski County Public Safety Director Tiger Robinson on Monday, the first of two days of bitterly cold weather.
Although many outlying roads were still a bit treacherous on Tuesday, thanks to Sunday evening’s snowfall and the cold air that prevented it from melting away, Pulaski County’s main roads were generally clear — with slick spots here and there.
And many either stayed home — made more possible for parents of school students, as all three school systems canceled classes on Monday and Tuesday — or took their time heading into work.
Residents heeded officials’ warnings to not venture outdoors overnight Monday. And it appears that was a wise decision. The National Weather Service in Jackson, Ky. recorded a wind chill of negative 25 degrees in Somerset at around 11:45 p.m. Monday.
Now, as area schools enter their third day of canceled classes (although Somerset Christian started today’s classes on a delay) some relief from the cold is expected as temperatures are forecast to rise above freezing in the coming days and into the weekend.
As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, the temperature in Pulaski County had risen to 14 degrees — still frigid, but an improvement on Monday’s single digits.
The National Weather Service is calling for highs on Wednesday to be in the 30s, a dramatic swing from the early part of the week when the thermometer didn't reach double digits in most places.
Meteorologist Kevin Smith in Paducah says the things will warm up to the high 40s and even low 50s by the weekend, giving some areas a 60 degree swing from lows of -10 on Monday.
"I'm sure we're not going to have any complaints, Smith said. "But, spring's not in a hurry yet. It's going to take a while."
In Pulaski County, today’s highs are expected to hit the mid-30s, and that is supposed to creep upward for Thursday, during which temperatures are expected to be in the mid-40s. Forecasters are calling for a high temperature of 57 degrees on Friday, and the temperature may even break 60 degrees by Saturday.
The warmer temperatures will no doubt give residents a chance to clean up — as some saw frozen and busted pipes — and it will ease the demand on electricity providers.
South Kentucky RECC, which serves more than 66,000 customers in Pulaski and surrounding counties, asked on Tuesday that its customers voluntarily conserve electricity in an effort to ease the demand on its system.
“We are asking members to curtail electric usage due to the extreme cold temps today and near-record consumer demand,” stated the post on Tuesday.
Dennis Holt, vice president of engineering with SKRECC, said the cooperative hit its peak demand for power at around 7 a.m. Tuesday, setting a new record for energy usage with a peak demand of slightly more than 450 megawatts. That’s around double an average demand. The cooperative’s previous peak demand was 418 MW.
Holt said SKRECC had several weather-related scattered outages in its multi-county system throughout the night Monday night and into Tuesday morning.
The largest outage occurred in Clinton County, which affected 1,055 members.
Other outages included one in Wayne County, affecting 872 customers for around two and a half hours, one on Stilesville Road in Pulaski County, which affected 115 members for about an hour, and an outage in the Jabez area.
The Jabez outage affected 620 members and was caused by a large transformer failure. That outage lasted for three hours and 15 minutes.
SKRECC CEO Allen Anderson said the cooperative’s employees worked in the dangerously cold temperatures to ensure customers stayed connected.
“South Kentucky RECC employees are among the very best there are, and we appreciate their willingness and dedication to restore power in the extreme conditions we have had the past several days,” said Anderson. “Our focus is on getting power to our members as quickly and safely as possible. We also appreciate the understanding and the patience of our members during the outages."
The Associated Press contributed to this report