In Dec. 16 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Editor
A pre-winter snowfall dumped anywhere from three to six inches across Russell County over the weekend, prompting the county and its two cities to get salt trucks and plows on the slick, snow-covered roadways.
With some snow flurries still falling as of early Tuesday morning, many of the county's side roads, and even some main ones, were covered in the white stuff, or even worse … ice. After Saturday's late downpour the temperature dropped, the water froze and the snow began to fall early Sunday. Monday's wind chill hovered just above the 0 degree mark.
Russell County Schools were canceled Monday and Tuesday as road crews battled the harsh conditions to make the roads safe to drive on for those who still had to go to work or run errands throughout the day.
This first significant snowfall of the season even had the county's rescue squad out and about late Sunday and early Monday.
""We've had trucks out all night," said Danny Rogers with the squad Monday. "The roads were really rough last night. There were several slid into ditches and it was just very hard to travel."
Rogers said members of the rescue squad also helped transport some nursing home residents and dispatch workers to and from work.
"We made two or three runs to assist EMS," he said. "We're still at it this morning," Rogers said Monday.
County Judge-Executive Mickey Garner said county road crews had also been out since Sunday.
"It has been so cold that the salt isn't doing a whole lot of good," Garner said. "It was just a mess."
Garner said the early winter storm would cost the county a little more money in the long run but that plowing and salting must be done in order for hazardous roads to become safe and drivable.
"We'll be out until all the roads are in good shape," Garner said of his work crews.
Russell Springs Mayor Hollis DeHart said he had city crews out early Monday morning scraping and salting city roads as well. He said the city was using their salt supply earlier this year than a year ago due to the late fall snowstorms.
Public Works Director Terry Russell said his city workers were out on the roads at 3 a.m. Monday trying to keep up with the continuous snowfall. The city's trucks were in action throughout the morning Monday, trying to help keep city streets clear.
In Jamestown, Mayor Brooks Bates said his city employees were out in full force early on Sunday.
"Everyone came in and we didn't have any problems," he said. "We're in pretty good shape, we have one load of salt left."
He said if the city does run low on salt this winter, they have backup plans to borrow from some other folks.
"People have commented to me about how quickly we cleaned the streets up," Bates said.
The snowfall also canceled a trio of scheduled meetings of the Russell County Fiscal Court, the Russell County Board of Education and the Russell County Project Development Board.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet crews, including right here in Russell County, have also been treating major roadways.
"Our crews are prepared to work around the clock throughout this storm and until roads are clear," Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said Monday.
State highway crews were working to clear snow-covered roadways before temperatures plummeted and freeze remaining moisture on pavement surfaces.
Several inches of snow fell over parts of the Kentucky, part of a system chased by a cold front forecast to produce gusty winds, resulting in snowdrifts.
"Frigid temperatures complicate the job of keeping roadways clear, but our crews will work as long as it takes," Hancock said.
Salt and other anti-icing agents lose potency in extremely low temperatures, making it critical for crews to clear as much as possible while temperatures are higher.
Statewide, the Transportation Cabinet has a fleet of more than 1,000 snowplows and ample stockpiles of salt and other snow-fighting chemicals. Contract crews also helped battle the storm.
Motorists should use extra caution when driving in winter weather. Allow plenty of room for snow plows and other heavy equipment. Remember that bridges and overpasses typically freeze before surface-level roadways.
More messy winter weather, including possible ice and freezing rain, is slated for Wednesday night and Thursday, according to numerous forecasts.
The public can access updated travel and weather information online at www.511.ky.gov or by dialing 511.