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Gov. Beshear Declares State Of Emergency Amid Icy Conditions

Freezing rain clinging to a tree in Shelby Park in Louisville on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.
Freezing rain clinging to a tree in Shelby Park in Louisville on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.

Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency Thursday due to a complex winter weather system that doused the state with freezing rain and sleet overnight.

More than 70,000 Kentuckians lost power as icy conditions downed power lines and trees. Officials reported multiple crashes and temporary closures on highways and roads across the state. Transportation crews treated roads throughout the night and are working to remove downed trees. 

As the weather system moves out of the state, bitterly cold temperatures are expected to remain, meaning the icy conditions should persist throughout the weekend. 

Beshear’s state of emergency declaration allows the state to pull additional funds and employ the State Emergency Operations Center to coordinate support.

“I urge every Kentuckian to stay home and off these treacherous roads,” Beshear said.  

Beshear closed state offices for the day, as well as Kroger regional vaccination sites. Those who lost appointments should be able to reschedule over the next week, he said. 

Louisville officials closed the city’s mass coronavirus vaccination site at Broadbent Arena for the day, but expect it to reopen Friday. 

Louisville Conditions

Sleet and freezing rain hit Louisville overnight, instigating scattered power outages, slick driving conditions and a number of closures Thursday. 

Meteorologist Ryan Sharp with the National Weather Service in Louisville said the worst weather has passed for the area, though untreated roads will likely remain icy as freezing temperatures are likely to continue throughout most of the weekend.

Sharp said Thursday’s icy conditions were the result of rain passing through a layer of cold air. 

“We had a complex winter weather system that moved through the area,” Sharp said. “ We had what basically was like a rain that fell into that cold air and allowed things to freeze on the surface.”

Louisville Gas & Electric is reporting outages for only around 1,000 customers in Jefferson County as of Thursday morning.

Jefferson County Circuit  and District Courts are closed for the day, according to their websites.  Jefferson County Public Schools have closed food sites for the remainder of the week, though virtual classes will continue as scheduled. 


Ryan Van Velzer is the Kentucky Public Radio Managing Editor. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.