Freezing rain and sleet formed a light coating of ice over roads in southcentral Kentucky beginning at daybreak this morning, causing several accidents, closing schools and postponing the state high school cheerleading championships Saturday at Western Kentucky University.
Crews for the state Department of Highways pretreated the roads with salt beginning at 4 a.m. today, said Keirsten Jaggers, public information officer for Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 3. Warren County crews were salting intersections, hills and curves as quickly as they could today, county Judge-Executive Mike Buchanon said.
District 3 crews worked through the morning to clear accidents in the 10-county area.
“There’s so many, we’re running out of wreckers,” Jaggers said.
The number of crashes closed parts of Interstate 65 north of Cave City and into Hardin County.
Drivers were urged to use caution, especially on bridges, overpasses and ramps, which usually freeze before roads, she said.
Back roads and those in subdivisions were also likely to be icy.
“Any road that wasn’t pretreated probably has a layer of ice on it,” Jaggers said.
Freezing rain creates treacherous driving conditions, said Mike Crow, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Louisville.
“Freezing rain is just a solid sheet of ice,” he said.
A National Weather Association ice storm warning was in effect until 1 p.m. today. Temperatures should be above freezing by late morning or early afternoon, Crow said.
“Hopefully, we’ll see some improvement of road conditions,” he said.
From midnight to 8 a.m., Kentucky State Police worked seven accidents on icy roads in the Post 3 area that covers Warren and surrounding counties, Post 3 dispatch shift supervisor Jimmy Kitchens said.
“But we are on the scene of several more,” Kitchens said.
KSP received several reports of cars sliding off roads. As of press time, no traffic fatalities had been reported in the Post 3 area, he said.
Smiths Grove Fire Chief Kenneth Priddy fell on ice at his residence this morning, breaking his hip, his wife Cathy Priddy said. He was scheduled to have surgery at 5 p.m. today.
One of the early morning accidents involved a Greyhound Bus at the 54 mile marker of Interstate 65 north, Kitchens said.
The bus slid off the road at the Hart-Barren county line, KSP Post 3 spokesman Trooper Jonathan Biven said. One passenger bit his tongue during the incident and required medical assistance. No one else was injured.
At press time, the interstate was shut down from the 50 mile marker to the 60 mile marker in both directions due to ice, Kitchens said.
No problems had been reported on parkways, Kitchens said.
The Bowling Green Police Department had worked two accidents as of press time, both of them minor, said Officer Ronnie Ward, spokesman for BGPD.
The Warren County Sheriff’s Department worked numerous single-vehicle accidents and assisted several cars that veered off icy roads and became stranded, according to a news release.
Bowling Green Independent Schools and Warren County Public Schools are closed today.
Western Kentucky University campuses in Bowling Green were set to open at 11 a.m., according to a news release. Morning classes were canceled. The Board of Regents meeting was moved to 11:30 a.m. and the WKU Honors Band Clinic set to begin at 11 a.m.
WKU’s Glasgow campus was scheduled to open at noon, while the Owensboro campus was set to open at 10 a.m. WKU’s campuses in Elizabethtown, Fort Knox and Radcliff are closed all day. Saturday classes are on regular schedule.
The Warren County Justice Center was set to open at 11 a.m.
The inaugural Kentucky High School Athletic Association cheerleading championships scheduled for Saturday were rescheduled to Feb. 23.
— Reporter Robyn Minor contributed information for this story.