Extreme road conditions caused by ice this morning have brought much of the county to a stand-still while first responders struggle to keep up with the influx of emergency calls.
“It’s extremely, extremely dangerous,” Sheriff Rick Clemons said as he and other officers from his department worked to assist numerous drivers who were stranded along county roadways and the Western Kentucky Parkway.
Clemons said that even on roads that had been salted, there were still slick areas, and there were “so many calls backed up and waiting,” that his department is working non-stop on the situation.
“There are multiple accidents everywhere,” he said.
Detective Kevin “Speedy” Smith, with the Leitchfield Police Department said that officers within his department had been responding to vehicles wrecked or run off of the roadway “two and three at a time.”
Smith noted that while officers have been inundated with calls, they are “fortune” to have had no serious injuries within their area.
“Most of them were non-injury, and most were no property damage,” Smith said, explaining that the biggest issue is with cars that had simply run off of the road and become stuck.
Many people have been left waiting in their cars for available wreckers, and Smith said, “as long as they had heat and enough gas, we would go ahead and move on to the next one. No one was stranded, though.”
Grayson County Emergency Management Director Ernie Perkins spoke to the News-Gazette by phone as he stood on Watershed Road this morning attempting to assist multiple county salt trucks which had slid off of the roadway and become stuck.
“It’s bad. It’s very bad.” Perkins said, “These off-roads are a solid sheet of ice.”
His advice to drivers was simple. “Stay home.”
‘Stay home,’ is just what many area residents either chose to or were forced to do. Schools called off classes, the local food pantry shut down, and MTD quickly cancelled their day shift.
Other businesses, such as Cecilian Bank, along with the UK Extension Office and the County Clerk’s Office delayed opening.
According to Perkins, the situation is more widespread than just Grayson County. He said that even I-65 has been shut down at multiple points between Elizabethtown and Barren County.
Master Trooper Norman Chaffins, with the Kentucky State Police, echoed Clemons and Smith, saying that KSP is dealing with numerous calls as well. He said, “because there are so many vehicles on the roads, we’re having trouble clearing them.”
Chaffins said that KSP was focusing on keeping people off of the roadways and clearing away the vehicles which have been involved in wrecks or become stuck, “so that we can get salt trucks out there.”
He warned drivers to “stay home unless it’s an extreme emergency,” and noted that back-roads especially are “extremely treacherous.”
Smith said that the volume of incidents is not completely abnormal for the first snow or ice situation of the season, but said, “it seemed like it kind of caught everybody off guard. The way it came, it hit about the time everybody was getting ready to go to work. People didn’t’ think the roads were that bad, but once they got on them, they figured out how bad they really were.”
A representative with the Nation Weather Service explained that the situation became bad very quickly thanks to ground temperatures which were well below freezing and a warmer layer of air high up, which caused precipitation to fall as rain, rather than snow, and then freeze.
He said that the NWS is receiving reports in the region of ice “anywhere from a quarter of an inch to three-tenths of an inch thick.”
“It’s a pretty big impact,” he said, adding that the hardest-hit area stretched from around Elizabethtown to Bowling Green, putting Grayson County right in the center of the icy action.