Ice And Snow Curtail Travel, Close Stores

The snowfall that closed schools, postponed events, shortened business hours and impeded trash collection on Friday wasn't out of the ordinary for Paducah, but it did exceed the total of wintry precipitation the area saw last year.

The National Weather Service measured about 3 inches of snow at its office Friday afternoon and had reports of about 4 inches from other locations, meteorologist Ashley Ravenscraft said.

"It's not unusual," she said of the snowfall, "(but) it's more than anything we got last year."

The last major snowfall, Ravenscraft added, came on Jan. 22, 2016, when between 4 and 6 inches of snow hit the area.

Rain turned to freezing rain around midnight Friday morning and created a thin coat of ice on area roads. Sleet moved in later in the morning, which may have helped some motorists.

"I think one of the reasons people may have found their morning commute easier to drive was because of the sleet; their cars may have had a bit more traction," she said.

McCracken County Emergency Management Director Jerome Mansfield reported Friday afternoon the agency had responded to two wrecks on Interstate 24 earlier in the day, but the morning was mostly quiet otherwise.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet also reported downed trees and power lines on U.S. 45 at Fulton, which blocked the road between Ky. 307 and Ky. 94 about five hours Friday. Crews cleared the site by about 3 p.m., Transportation Cabinet spokesman Keith Todd said.

Mansfield said residents in general did a good job of staying off the roads, and he encouraged people to exercise caution through the weekend.

"What we have to be aware of tomorrow is the roads (will) become clear, and people begin to get out," he said. "Sometimes we'll see an increase in accidents the day after an event."

A few intrepid downtown business owners opened their doors for at least a few hours on Friday, including the barbershop Manly Daniels, Etcetera Coffeehouse, Hooper's Outdoor Center, The Paducah Cigar Company, Doe's Eat Place and Shandies. The majority of downtown businesses appeared closed.

"I'd rather be open and help somebody out that needs something," Hooper's manager William Bell said as a customer left the outdoors store with warm socks and shoes.

"These are things you don't think about until you get hit by something like that (snowstorm)," Bell added.

Bell and others said they felt comfortable driving because they took the roads slowly and had four-wheel drive, but they didn't expect all their employees to come in. They follow a policy of "better safe than sorry" when it comes to severe weather, he said. "Stay safe," Cigar Company owner Joaquin Hilton advised. "We're open because I happen to be in the area."

The weekend is expected to remain cold and dry, Ravenscraft said. Today's predicted high is 26 with a low of 9. Temperatures are expected to reach 28 and drop to a low of 20 Sunday.

Monday brings a 60 percent chance of snow, she said.

She and Mansfield urged motorists to be cautious this weekend and travel only if necessary.

"The roads that haven't been (plowed or treated) are pretty dicey. My co-workers have seen several cars off the roads," she said. "Don't go out if you don't have to. If you do have to, drive slowly."

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