Friday, February 20, 2015

Pending weather offers mixed bag, troubles

A winter weather advisory has been issued for Crittenden County and much of western Kentucky by the National Weather Service (NWS) in Paducah. The advisory for snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain is in effect until 6 a.m. Saturday.

The impending weather has local officials concerned.

"We expect a lot of flash flooding," said Crittenden County Judge-Executive Perry Newcom during today's fiscal court meeting.

Newcom and local emergency management personnel met with NWS officials Thursday to go over the forecast and its possible repercussions, including flooding from heavy rainfall expected on top of a layer of snow and ice.

The county, as well as the state, remain under a state of emergency declaration. The local emergency operations center has been open all week, manned by emergency management volunteers, and the rescue squad is on alert for any help it may need to provide.

The weather service predicts snow and sleet will begin to develop across the area by midday. The precipitation will intensify and transition to freezing rain tonight.

A combination of snow and sleet accumulations underneath a thin layer of ice will create a period of very hazardous driving conditions, especially this evening.

Up to 2 inches of snow and sleet are possible across the advisory area, especially east of the Mississippi River. Up to a 0.1 inches of ice accumulation is possible near the Tennessee and Arkansas borders.

"If it stays cold, we could a half-inch to three-quarters of an inch of ice," Newcom cautioned.

Temperatures will warm to above freezing by early Saturday. At this point precipitation will change over to all rain, with 1 to 3 inches of rain possible through the day.

"We're really uncertain what is going to happen," Newcom said.

Some flooding issues will be possible, especially as rains fall on existing snow cover. The courthouse, whose roof is already leaking in multiple spots from melting snow, could see even more leaks spring up over the weekend with excessive rainfall.

By Sunday, colder temperatures will return, along with wind chills of zero to 10 below into Monday morning.

As of noon today, travel remains treacherous across the county. While many county roads have been cleared by road crews, some roads remain only one lane. And drifting snow has recovered many areas already cleared by plows.

The courthouse will remain open as a warming shelter until temperatures are consistently above the freezing mark.