Commonwealth Journal

Local News

February 10, 2011

Winter Wallop

Schools close, traffic snarls, road ice as another arctic blast hits Pulaski

Somerset — The sky gradually turned slate gray. A winter sun, visible at noon, slowly disappeared in thickening overcast. The thermometer quickly rose six degrees, from 21 to 27, as moisture from an approaching Gulf storm saturated frigid air.

Suddenly it was snowing again; not a happy childlike event with visions of sleigh rides and snowmen. These dancing white flakes were falling on winter-tired Pulaski countians enduring one of the coldest, snowiest winters in 30 years. It was unwanted snow; fresh like meringue, but welcome as a headache—except, perhaps, for Science Hill and Pulaski County School District students who were sent home early yesterday and won’t have classes today.

The winter event wasn’t unexpected. Forecasters accurately predicted the approaching storm. Chances of snow were 100 percent, they said.

Local school systems ended classes early yesterday afternoon to get children home ahead of slick roads. The Pulaski County School District rolled buses toward students’ homes at 1 p.m. Somerset schools stopped classes at 2:30 p.m. and classes at Science Hill ended 30 minutes earlier than normal.

“It’s already snowing in Clinton County and we’ve got salt trucks out,” Neal Shoemaker, chief engineer for the Kentucky Department of Highways’ District 8, said about 2:15 p.m. yesterday. “It’s headed this way,” he assured.

Shoemaker was right. About 15 minutes later it began snowing in Somerset.

“We’ve got plenty of salt ... our trucks are loaded with salt and calcium and ready to go,” said Shoemaker. “As soon as snow begins collecting on roads, we’ll be out. Our men will stay out 24 hours a day until the roads are clear,” he assured.

Shoemaker said highways in Pulaski County have not been pretreated ahead of this storm because “ ... it’s supposed to be a dry blowing snow and the temperature is too cold for pretreating.”

The National Weather Service at Jackson said the developing storm system across the South would spread snow across Southeastern Kentucky by yesterday evening. Snow was expected to fall heavily at times before ending from west to east late last night. Up to 3 inches of accumulation was expected atop nearly an inch remaining from Monday night’s snowstorm.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. After tomorrow, a warming trend will take the temperature into the 50s late this weekend, and long-range forecasts  indicate the last part of February will be warmer than normal.

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