EARLIER: First ice, then snow pound county

-A A +A

Overnight icing takes down power, and snow creates greater difficulty

By Steve Doyle

The winter storm that bore into Kentucky from the North and West pounded Shelby County mercilessly Tuesday and early Wednesday.

The county declared a state of emergency just after midnight, and many homes and businesses are without power. Conditions deteriorated severely early Wednesday morning as snow pounded down, leaving a carpet of white atop the glowing ice that was present when many residents went to bed. Trees, power lines and eaves are decorated with glistening ice, which has led to many downed lines, blown transformers and loss of power, cable and cell-phone services. So rampant were the falling limbs that you could stand outside and listen to a continuing cacophony of cracking and falling. The silvery lines and limbs laced into a fabric of danger, and the streets and yards were absent of snow-loving kids or pedestrians. KU officials are reporting as many as 125,000 customers in this region are without power, and a large percentage of those is in Shelby County. Schools are closed for the third consecutive days, and officials will wait until later to assess options for Thursday. Road conditions have become extremely hazardous and problematic. The snowstorm created very low visibility, and though crews were continually scraping and salting, the pace of the snow overwhelmed those efforts. Interstate 64 traffic is sparse but moving at around 50 miles per hour, but other roads and streets are hampered by downed or sagging power lines and icing conditions. Downed power lines are the main problem. A line across Main Street near 10th Street in Shelbyville rendered stoplights dead.  Washington Street was impassable for a while until downed limbs could be moved. U.S. 60 near Walnut Way Farm west of Shelbyville is closed because of a low-hanging line, and Simpsonville police are routing traffic through a parking lot because of a sagging line at The Old Stone Inn. Many businesses, medical facilities and banks are closed. Stores and restaurants are dark, many because of the lack of power. Some cell-phone service was interrupted, and cable failed intermittently. Landmark Web Press, which prints The Sentinel-News and other regional newspapers, has been without power since early morning.  Some printing and insertion processes were stalled, and some deliveries were delayed. Conditions in surrounding counties are in some ways worse than Shelby, and a shelter was opened to help house residents who needed assistance. In neighboring Spencer County, 95 percent of residents were said to be without power, and the community’s water service was in danger of running out because of the lack of pumping capability. LG&E reported about 75,000 customers without power in Louisville.