Winter Storm Dumps Ice & Snow across East Kentucky

Low pressure tracked across the Cumberland Valley spreading Gulf of Mexico moisture northward over a very cold air mass Wednesday night and Thursday morning.  This resulted in a wintry mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow falling across eastern Kentucky, with significant accumulations of ice and snow for many areas.

Surface Chart & Radar Composite
(7 PM EST 12/15/2010)

Surface Chart & Radar Composite
(7 AM EST 12/16/2010)

Surface Chart & Radar Composite
(7 PM EST 12/16/2010)

The precipitation began west of I-75 early in the evening on Wednesday December 15th as freezing rain, with a little snow and sleet mixed in.  As the precipitation advanced northeastward during the evening, it fell largely as snow.  Warmer air progressing northward above the surface brought a changeover to freezing rain from south to north overnight, with the changeover occurring all the way to the Mountain Parkway by dawn on Thursday.  The precipitation fell largely as snow for the entire event north of the Mountain Parkway.  Below is a graphical estimate of snow and ice accumulations for the event based on reports received by the National Weather Service in Jackson, KY.  Some of the more noteworthy amounts received are also listed below.

***********************SNOWFALL REPORTS***********************
INCHES  LOCATION                 ST  COUNTY        
------  -----------------------  --  --------------  
  6.0    CRANSTON                 KY  ROWAN           
  5.0    FLEMINGSBURG             KY  FLEMING         
  4.0    MOREHEAD                 KY  ROWAN           
  4.0    INEZ                     KY  MARTIN          
4.0    SANDY HOOK               KY  ELLIOTT         
  4.0    FLATGAP                  KY  JOHNSON         
  4.0    WEST LIBERTY             KY  MORGAN          
  4.0    2 W HAZEL GREEN          KY  WOLFE           
  4.0    FRENCHBURG               KY  MENIFEE         
  4.0    OWINGSVILLE              KY  BATH            

**********************ICE/SLEET REPORTS***********************
INCHES  LOCATION                 ST  COUNTY        
------  -----------------------  --  --------------  

  0.75   WILLIAMSBURG             KY  WHITLEY         
  0.50   BUCKHORN                 KY  PERRY           
  0.50   MOUNT VERNON             KY  ROCKCASTLE      
  0.50   PINEVILLE                KY  BELL            
  0.50   HARLAN                   KY  HARLAN          
  0.50   BARBOURVILLE             KY  KNOX            
  0.40   8 NNE PIKEVILLE          KY  PIKE            
  0.33   2 W STANTON              KY  POWELL          
  0.30   4 NE JACKSON             KY  BREATHITT       
  0.25   ROYALTON                 KY  MAGOFFIN        

The amount of liquid precipitation that accompanied this storm was rather amazing, especially considering how cold and dry the preceding air mass was.  The following graphic illustrates how wet this system was, with over an inch of liquid precipitation falling over much of southeast Kentucky.  Also included is a snapshot of temperatures observed around daybreak Thursday morning.  You can see how the freezing line was surging northward changing the freezing rain over the plain rain.

Here are a couple pictures taken outside NWS Jackson, KY where around 1/3" of ice accumulated on top of over an inch of snow.

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