Somerset might not get snow, but we’re sure to get wind
By CHRIS HARRIS, CJ Staff Writer Commonwealth Journal
The so-called “Frankenstorm” that began battering the east coast this week will be little more ferocious than a child in a Frankenstein Halloween mask by the time its effects reach Pulaski County.
While eastern Kentucky is hit with snow — likely up to a foot in higher elevations, according to forecaster Pete Geogerian of the National Weather Service in Jackson, Ky. — Somerset is likely to only get “ a few flakes” out of the deal.
“I don’t think there will be much of an impact out there,” said Geogerian of Pulaski’s area of south-central Kentucky. “The ground will be too warm and you’ll miss out on the heavier precipitation. The lighter the precipitation is, the less likely it is you’re going to be see accumulating snow.
“It’s not like you won’t see a few flakes mixed in potentially (Tuesday) morning,” he added. “You may see a temporary dusting around the ground area, but the ground will catch up and melt it.”
As such, Pulaski will find itself just a hair too far west to feel what Geogerian calls the “impact” the storm will have east of I-75.
He said that in counties such as Johnson or Floyd, close to the borders with Virginia and West Virginia, the snow will begin this evening at 10 p.m. and go through noon tomorrow, with heavy accumulation in high elevations and likely about two inches or so in valley areas.
“Pulaski, Wayne, and Rockcastle Counties are kind of on that fringe of heavier precipitation,” he said. “The storm system is only going to get so far west and then start drifting north.”
The slight threat of a flake or two of snow has local road crews on standby.
Although significant accumulation is unlikely to happen, Carrie Wiese, attorney for the City of Somerset, said the city’s road crews have the supplies ready should it be needed.
The city’s emergency responders now have more than 40 miles of additional roadway to cover since Somerset officials voted to take in a number of roads into the city limits.
“Technically, we’ve just annexed in the right-of-way, not the actual road itself,” Wiese said. “But we’ve taken it upon ourselves to cover those roads.”
That means it’s no different in inclement weather conditions. Wiese said many of the city’s new roadways — which include parts of Ky. 39, North Ky. 1247, Ky. 914, West Ky. 80, Slate Branch Road and Rush Branch Road — are still under the state’s wing when it comes to road coverage.
But she said the city’s road crews stay in close contact with the state’s crews, and she said the city is willing to lend a hand in keeping the roadways clear.
“We would do the best we could do to get some of those cleared off, like we would other city streets,” Wiese said.
Wiese said the county has “abundant” salt supplies and is prepared for the upcoming winter months and for any weather situations that Sandy may bring (although the chance is slight).
“That’s the thing,” Wiese said. “We just don’t know.”
Wiese also said the city’s drainage systems — which she said were upgraded after the floods of May 2010 — should handily take care of any influx of precipitation that may come about.
What Pulaski can be sure to expect, however, is a very blustery day.
“The biggest headline out that way is winds,” said Geogerian. “You’ve got winds out of the west-northwest peaking at about 15-25 miles per hour, with gusts as high as 40 miles per hour.”
Those winds started being felt Monday night, he said, and will continue into today “as the storm system gets as close as it’s going to get to us.”
He added, “It will continue to be cold (through the week), but as far as the strong winds and steady precipitation, it looks to wind down (tonight).”
Despite the lack of any immediate threat, local emergency personnel are still on alert. Tiger Robinson, Pulaski County’s Public Safety Director, said that he’s been closely monitoring weather conditions ever since news of Hurricane Sandy’s affects broke.
“We’ve been watching it for days,” he said, “and will continue watching until it passes through.”
Robinson’s services may be needed less here than further east. He said that Kentucky’s emergency responders have been put on notice, and there’s a chance they could be called in to other areas to help if reinforcements are needed.
Pulaskians can count themselves fortunate, then, that it isn’t they who will need the help.
Or as Geogerian put it, “We’re certainly in a lot better shape than what the east coast is going to get.”
CJ Staff Writer Heather Tomlinson contributed to this article.