The first major winter weather event of the season dumped 21⁄2 inches of snow and a thin layer of ice on most of the region early Sunday morning, making for hazardous driving conditions at the start of the work week.
Most local churches canceled Sunday services and McLean County Public Schools were closed Monday, as county and state road crews did what they could to clear roads.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Keith Todd said that was made difficult because of a thin layer of ice that formed on most roads in the region when a strong line of arctic temperatures brought with it heavy bands of snow and wind Sunday night. Storms were preceded by heavy rains that made pre-treatment difficult on most state highways and provided for enough water on roads and bridges to freeze when sub-freezing temperatures accompanied the storm.
That ice provided for several slide-offs on county roads, although no serious injuries were reported.
Another band of wintry precipitation was expected midway through this week.
Following the area’s first blast of winter weather for the season and in advance of future events, the Kentucky State Police issued a release concerning snow and ice safety.
“We are asking drivers to be prepared to meet the challenges of driving in poor weather conditions,” Post 16 spokesman Trooper Corey King said. “Plan ahead, make sure everyone in the vehicle is properly restrained and ensure your vehicle is maintained to handle not only the road conditions but the frigid temperatures as well. Our troopers will be continuously monitoring all major corridors looking for stranded motorists.”
Their best advice was to avoid travel, unless necessary, when winter weather is in your area. However; if you do have to venture out, here are a few simple reminders:
• Clear all windows and mirrors — having unobstructed vision is vital for time/distance management and to avoid having a collision.
• Leave early — allow more travel time; expect some delays as well as temporary road closures. Anticipate normal travel time to be up to five times longer.
• Increase distance between vehicles — it takes significantly longer to stop on snow- and ice-covered roadways.
• Use extreme caution on bridges and overpasses — also peaks and valleys, as well as shady areas, typically hold spots of black ice.
• Do not use cruise control (or exhaust engine brakes for trucks) — cruise control can cause the vehicle’s wheels to continue turning on a slick surface, causing the driver to lose control.
• Approach intersections with great care — other drivers not paying attention will slide through red lights.
• Signal all lane changes and turning movements — for other motorists to react to your anticipated actions.
• Have a full tank of fuel — In the event of a collision or being stranded, it will take emergency personnel longer to respond. With frigid temperatures, having enough fuel to keep warm is paramount.
• Have a vehicle cellphone charger and a blanket.
• Notify a family member or friend of your travel plans and intended travel routes.
• Be patient — bad weather also limits the capabilities of law enforcement officers and other emergency services. Also, keep in mind they will be experiencing a high volume of requests for service.
• Attempt to move your vehicle out of the roadway if you are involved in a minor, non-injury traffic collision; especially if you are in a dangerous area such as a curve or blinding hill.
• If your vehicle is stranded or wrecked but not in the roadway, attempts to recover your vehicle will have to wait until conditions improve for safety considerations.
The Messenger-Inquirer contributed to this report.