Beshear urges ‘good decisions’ in winter weather stretch

Published 2:44 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2024

FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) – Gov. Andy Beshear held a virtual media briefing from the Capitol on Monday afternoon to address the state’s response to the snow and brutal cold that has struck Kentucky and is expected to remain for several more days.

“We want to make sure everyone is safe, that everyone is making good decisions, that everyone is taking extra time if they have to go somewhere, until we get through this system on Wednesday,” he said.  “It does look like we may have another one on Thursday or Friday.”

The area with the biggest snow threat is that part of Kentucky east of I-75 and south of I-64, where total snow accumulations could reach as much as eight inches, south and east of a line from Bowling Green to Ashland.

Bitter cold is also in the forecast, even in areas that don’t see significant snow accumulation, according to the Governor.  “Tuesday morning, the wind chills will range from -5 to +5, and even colder than that on Wednesday morning.  It may take until Thursday before temperatures go above the freezing mark, and then we may see another system for the end of the week.”

He urged people not to travel if they don’t need to and cited an example of unnecessary travel and activity that could have ended in tragedy.

“We have had a rescue operation in the Red River Gorge.  We had some campers who went out at a time when the weather had obviously not been good and got trapped.”

Emergency responders were able to rescue four people from the Gorge.

“Just make sure that we’re making good decisions over the next 48 hours, so we don’t put anyone’s lives in danger,“ Beshear said.

The governor also said that Kentucky State Parks received notice of a missing person report at Cumberland Falls in Whitley County.  Both Whitley and McCreary County emergency management officials are involved in the search for Walter Dewayne Dale, 35, who has been reported missing from Corbin since Sunday, Jan. 14.

Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray said they have 2,000 people and 1,400 snowplows available across the state and are currently focusing their efforts on the interstates and parkways.  He urged drivers to stay out of the way of their crews.

“It’s big equipment, and we want to urge caution, because it can be very dangerous,” Gray said.  He urged Kentuckians to stay off the roads, adding, “If you must travel, pack an emergency car kit and visit before you leave to view current traffic conditions, and drive slowly.”

Major General Hal Lamberton, Kentucky National Guard Adjutant General noted, “The Kentucky National Guard is deploying personnel and equipment to armories located near travel corridors, and teams are on standby ready to support motorists who may find themselves stranded as well as local response teams.”

Travel corridors the Guard is especially monitoring include I-75 in southern Kentucky, the Hal Rogers Parkway and U.S. 23.

Beshear added, “We’ve made it through record-setting tornadoes, floods, ice storms, and windstorms.  We want everyone to be safe through this weather event, and the ones that we’re going to see probably through the end of February.”