Holland: Expect treacherous conditions today

Traffic was rather heavy near the intersection of North 12th and Chestnut streets Wednesday afternoon in Murray. What was falling from the sky at this point was light rain. However, this was expected to change dramatically by this morning as forecasters continued to call for an ice storm to strike Murray and all of western Kentucky.

MURRAY — As Wednesday progressed, many residents in Murray and Calloway County were probably asking “What ice storm?”

As of about 3 p.m. Wednesday, conditions were rather tranquil. It was rather gloomy and a very light drizzle was falling, but temperatures were above freezing. The very light icing that came Tuesday night with some drizzle had long since faded.

However, forecasters were not changing their opinion that an ice storm would, in fact, strike. An ice storm warning remains in effect for all of western Kentucky until this evening and Murray’s Justin Holland, an official government observer for the National Weather Service Office in Paducah, was urging residents to not stop preparing.

“The freezing line has been just to our north most of the day, which is why we’re getting rain right now,” Holland said Wednesday afternoon. “As the sun goes down, though, that line is going to come through here and you’ll see things change.

“By (this morning), I’d say the roads are going to be pretty bad. I would say that everybody needs to stay home if they can.”

Things were very dangerous Wednesday morning when temperature readings were still at or below freezing. There were at least two fatal wrecks, one in Trigg County, the other in Lyon County, along with numerous other accidents throughout western Kentucky.

After noon Wednesday, a line of precipitation began forming near the Ohio River north of Murray. That line was still in place at about 3 p.m. and Holland said he believed that would begin bringing the heaviest freezing rain so far to the Murray area. The NWS, as it has since issuing the ice storm warning Tuesday afternoon, is calling for ice amounts to perhaps reach a half inch before the system leaves the area later today.

“A big reason things will be worse (today) is going to be the temperature. It’s going to be much lower than it was (Wednesday morning) and that’s going to allow things to freeze quickly,” Holland said. “The big time for us where we’ll get most of our ice, will be between 9 o’clock (Wednesday night) and 9 o’clock (this) morning.

“There’s also a concern with wind. We’re going to be having gusts of 20 to 25 miles per hour and that can cause problems for power lines, so people are going to have to be watching that too.”

Holland said what ice does accumulate Wednesday night and today should have a chance to melt, to some extent, on Friday. That is when sunshine is expected, although it will be sharply colder.

However, Friday’s readings will be nothing compared to Saturday and Sunday, when gusty north winds are expected to send wind chill factors below zero as actual highs will not reach 20 degrees and overnight lows will dive into the single digits.

“People need to be taking precautions now,” Holland said of the Arctic chill that will follow the storm. “This is where they need to be watching their car batteries, maybe checking the antifreeze levels in their cars too. They need to be dripping faucets and keeping cabinet doors open to keep their pipes from freezing, plus they may need to refresh themselves with where their water shutoff valves are in case there is a leak, they would know where that leak was coming from.

“Also, if you haven’t done it yet, disconnect your water hose outside and if you have pets, bring them inside.”

Holland also said that he is watching a system to the west that will arrive in western Kentucky early next week and could bring additional wintry weather. He said it is too early to know what to expect from that system.”