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UPDATE: State attributes multiple deaths to winter storm gripping Kentucky

Icicles hang from a gutter as subzero temperatures come to Louisville.
Justin Hicks
City and state officials are urging extreme caution as subzero temperatures grip the state in a winter storm.

Gov. Andy Beshear, during a Friday morning news conference, attributed the deaths of at least three Kentuckians to a winter storm that brought snow and extreme cold to the region. One person died in a vehicle accident in western Kentucky, another in Louisville who was described as “housing insecure.” The governor tweeted the announcement of a third death shortly after 11 a.m. without any further details.

Referencing tornadoes and floods that struck the state, the governor said it’s been “a long 12 months with the weather that’s come at us.”

“Let’s not lose one more,” Beshear said. “Stay inside, stay off the roads, stay safe, and stay alive.”

Louisville Metro Police say they are investigating after the body of an adult male was discovered on the 4000 block of Parthenia Ave. on Thursday night. There were no obvious signs of trauma. Before Beshear’s news conference, police said they were awaiting an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

The National Weather Service is projecting highs of just 5 degrees Friday. Strong wind gusts will make things even colder, at times dipping temperatures down around minus 30. NWS also reported snowfall totals at about 2 inches, with a chance of more flurries in the evening.

Louisville city officials say when snow stopped at roughly 1:30 a.m. Friday morning, crews were out plowing and salting. Most major two-lane roads are passable, however they say there may still be patches of ice and motorists should drive with caution. Plows will be out operating all day, clearing and treating the city’s 111 snow routes.

Metro Public Works Director Vanessa Burns said crews have treated all snow routes, but the below-freezing temperatures make it difficult for the salt to take effect.

Burns said because road conditions remain dangerous, some Metro services are being impacted, including trash collection.

“We will be picking up Friday's garbage on Monday, Monday’s garbage on Tuesday and therefore similar to how we usually have our holiday schedule,” Burns said.

She urged people to stay home if possible and if they do have to go out, use extreme caution while on roadways, especially at intersections.

With below-freezing temperatures expected through Monday, Operation White Flag remains in effect in Louisville for people without access to warm shelter or indoor spaces.

Operation White Flag will be activated until the windchill rises above 35 degrees.

Friday afternoon, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the opening of an additional temporary shelter.

“Our partners at Goodwill Kentucky have worked with the state to open a shelter at Broadbent Arena at the fairgrounds,” Fischer said. “Our outreach teams have worked with Goodwill to get folks off the street and into the shelter.”

The shelter at Broadbent Arena will remain open until the weather improves.

“We are still in this storm,” said Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray. “Staying off the roads today is still the best guidance.”

Gray said if motorists absolutely need to get on the road, they should have plenty of fuel and bring an emergency kit in case the vehicle gets disabled by weather conditions.

LMPD said it responded to nearly two dozen traffic incidents since the snow began last night.

Between power companies LG&E and Duke Energy, several hundred customers in the Louisville area are without power. Across the state, Beshear said a little more than 24,000 homes were without power, as of Friday morning.

Officials announced additional tips and resources earlier this week to stay safe during the winter weather.

This story was updated at 11:40 a.m.

Justin is LPM's Data Reporter. Email Justin at jhicks@lpm.org.
Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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