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December 15, 2010

Ice storm expected tonight, Thursday

National Weather Service says a quarter inch of ice might fall

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Ice accumulations of a quarter inch are possible tonight into early Thursday, as the National Weather Service has put Southern Indiana under a winter storm watch.

Louisville and areas to the south are under a winter storm warning.

In an advisory issued earlier this week, the weather service said the main hindrance would be to travelers, as roads become slick with ice overnight. Ice on trees and power lines could be expected as well, resulting in minor damage to weaker trees.

As of Tuesday afternoon, widespread, damaging accumulations of ice were not expected, according to the weather service. There is still considerable uncertainty regarding the amount and type of precipitation.

With memories of the January 2009 ice storm — which left thousands in the area without power — still fresh, some were already getting ready Tuesday.

Bill Densford, co-owner of Heuser Hardware on Spring Street in Jeffersonville, said customers were coming in looking for salt, shovels, insulation wrap and heat tape. Kerosene has been selling well also, he said, as many are looking for alternative heat sources in case of power outages.

In years past, people have waited to the last minute before a storm hits, he said. That hasn’t been the case recently.

“This year, we’ve seen them come in and get prepared. It’s kind of exciting for us. It’s a buzz around the store,” he said.

“We are monitoring the weather closely,” said Angeline Protogere, spokesperson for Duke Energy.

She said the quarter inch of ice being predicted is right around the threshold where problems begin to arise with power outages.

“When you exceed that is when you start having problems,” she said. “We certainly have emergency response teams who are always on standby.

Local governments are making preparations as well.

Jeffersonville Mayor Tom Galligan said crews were holding off on putting brine on the roads because rain is expected to move into the area first, which would wash it off. Additionally, he said, there’s still plenty of salt left on the road following Sunday’s snow storm.

“It’s never a good time for a storm to come in,” he said.

However, he said having road salt already down will be helpful in this instance.

In New Albany Matt Denison, president of the Board of Public Works and Safety, said officials participated in conference calls with the weather service Tuesday. The city doesn’t anticipate the ice being nearly as bad as it was two years ago, Denison said.

Street department crews are actually still salting side streets from Sunday’s snow.

“It will be a continuous thing for us, I think,” he said.

Officials will be updating road conditions on the city’s Facebook.com page, at cityofnewalbany.com and on Twitter.com under the handle @NewAlbanyIN.

“We want to let people know before they leave their homes how the roads are,” he said. “We haven’t heard or seen any major issues [with the last few snow storms.] You get a couple of small [winter storms] under your belt and you get reacclimated with your routes and trouble spots.”

Jeffersonville’s Twitter handle is @cityofjeff.

According to the weather service, the high pressure system responsible for the cold temperatures in place now will shift eastward today. At the same time, a low pressure system is set to develop across the Central and Southern Plains and warm moist Gulf air will move into the region.

Light snow should start to fall across South Central Kentucky early today and progress northward through the day, according to the weather service. Sleet, then freezing rain, is expected to occur across South Central Kentucky today and move into Southern Indiana before daybreak Thursday.

Check Thursday’s edition, as well as newsandtribune.com, for more information on the storm.

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