FRANKFORT, KY (WOWK) – Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has issued a State of Emergency due to impending severe weather in the Bluegrass State.
According to the governor’s office, rain is expected to turn to snow Thursday night, Dec. 22, 2022, across many parts of Kentucky due to an arctic front expected to bring a flash freeze and severely cold temperatures, with possible wind gusts of 40-50 mph Friday, Dec. 23, and Christmas Eve wind chills that could reach -10 to -26 degrees Fahrenheit.
Beshear’s office says those temperatures could stay below freezing in many areas through the Christmas holiday and early into the following week. Kentucky Emergency Management, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky State Police, and Kentucky National Guard are all preparing to respond to the impending severe weather, Beshear says.
“Flash freeze is a big concern, and it will lead to dangerous road conditions,” Beshear said. “If you are traveling for Christmas, please plan to arrive at your destination by midday Thursday. After floods, tornadoes, ice storms and everything else we have faced, we don’t want to lose anyone to this weather front. Please make a plan and get prepared, and make a list of people you need to check in on, especially during this Christmas holiday.”
The governor’s office says the severe weather will affect travel and could cause broken waterlines, power outages and possibly damage to public infrastructure and private properties.
“Kentuckians, wear your seat belts, slow down, leave more space between cars and prep your car with the necessary supplies in the event you become stranded,” said KSP Commissioner Phillip Burnett Jr. “KSP and other emergency personnel are ready and available to respond during this upcoming winter storm, but we strongly encourage everyone to stay home when possible. If you must drive and experience a wreck or become stuck on the roadways, please be patient. Depending on the amount of winter weather the commonwealth receives and the number of roadway closures, emergency personnel may become very busy.”
While Beshear says his office is working with county officials and Kentucky State Parks to open warming centers for residents in need, he is also urging Kentuckians to have a plan for a backup heat source in place and to make a vehicle kit that includes items such as a first-aid kit, blankets, jumper cables, a flashlight, extra batteries, a phone charger, a windshield scraper and a collapsible shovel. KSP has a list on their website of other items you may want to make sure are in your vehicles.
KSP has developed a list of items motorists should place in their vehicles before the weather sets in. This includes a winter weather kit with a cell phone charger, blankets, first-aid kit, jumper cables, windshield scraper, collapsible shovel and a flashlight with extra batteries.
KYEM Director Jeremy Slinker is also warning Kentukcians to take precautions, especially due to the dangers of hypothermia or carbon monoxide poisoning in possible power outages.
“In the event of a power outage, never use a generator indoors,” Slinker said. “Place the generator a safe distance from the home – at least 10 to 15 feet. Please use carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors. With these sub-zero temperatures, we also need people to dress in layers, as hypothermia is a real threat. And please take time to protect pets and livestock, which are also at threat.”
Slinker also says more information on how to prepare for severe weather is available on the KYEM website.
Beshear also says officials are making it a priority to make sure those still living in travel trailers after the devastating summer floods in Eastern Kentucky are safe and warm throughout the severe weather. According to the governor, Kentucky State Parks is preparing emergency shelter for those in travel trailers at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park or Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park.
The KYTC says they also has a fleet of over 1,300 plows ready to deploy across the state along with a stockpile of supplies for anti-icing and de-icing efforts. According to KYTC Secretary Jim Gray, Kentuckians can learn more about priority route maps, tips and highway district updates along with other snow and ice resources on their website.
According to the governor’s office, Beshear has also activated the state’s price gouging laws to prevent goods and services from being overpriced throughout the State of Emergency. Any consumers who see or experience price gouging during the State of Emergency can contact the Office of the Ohio Attorney General to report it.