Beshear declares emergency ahead of wintry holiday weather

Published 12:20 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2022

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Staff Report

Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency Wednesday ahead of an arctic front that is expected to bring a flash freeze and severely cold temperatures, with rain changing to snow Thursday night across much of the commonwealth. Temperatures may stay below freezing through the Christmas holiday and into early next week.

“Flash freeze is a big concern, and it will lead to dangerous road conditions,” Gov. Beshear said. “If you are traveling for Christmas, please plan to arrive at your destination by midday Thursday. After floods, tornadoes, ice storms and everything else we have faced, we don’t want to lose anyone to this weather front. Please make a plan and get prepared, and make a list of people you need to check in on, especially during this Christmas holiday.”

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The front is also expected to produce wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph on Friday and wind chills could reach minus 10 to minus 26 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday. The front is expected to affect travel, and other impacts may include broken waterlines, power outages and damage to public infrastructure and private properties.

The governor said his administration has been in contact with county officials to help open warming centers for local residents in need, and Kentucky State Parks will also serve as a backup warming centers. He also asked Kentuckians to make a plan to have a backup heat source in place and to make a vehicle kit.

Beshear also activated the state’s price gouging laws to protect families from grossly overpriced goods and services. With the state of emergency in place, consumers in the commonwealth can report price gouging to the Office of the Attorney General and under state law, price gougers can be held accountable.

The Kentucky Emergency Management (KYEM), the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Kentucky State Police and the Kentucky National Guard are all taking steps to prepare for the weather.

KYEM Director Jeremy Slinker talked about being weather-aware and the work to help those in Eastern Kentucky and warned about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and hypothermia.

“In the event of a power outage, never use a generator indoors,” Director Slinker said. “Place the generator a safe distance from the home – at least 10 to 15 feet. Please use carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors. With these sub-zero temperatures, we also need people to dress in layers, as hypothermia is a real threat. And please take time to protect pets and livestock, which are also at threat.”

Temperatures are forecast to be more seasonable next week.