Metro Louisville

Preparations are underway for potentially severe winter weather in Metro Louisville.

During a press briefing Sunday, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the area could “see significant accumulations of snow and ice, possibly freezing” over the next 48 hours. 

“So that means that we’ll be dealing with the impact of more snow and ice for the next few days, and we’ve still got snow and ice on the ground from the weather system that came through just this past week,” Fischer said.

The mayor asked residents to stay home and avoid getting on the roadways, “unless it’s absolutely necessary for food, medical care or work.” He also asked employers to let people who can work remotely to do so. 

If people must be on the roadways, officials said to be prepared with blankets, a flashlight and a fully charged cell phone so you can call for help. 

John Gordon with the National Weather Service said the storm will likely hit Louisville Monday around midnight with “sleet and snow moving in,” continuing through 8 or 9 a.m. He projected “freezing drizzle’ to follow into the afternoon.

“I think the snow’s really going to get going for the rush hour tomorrow night,” Gordon said. “That is not a good situation.” 

Making it a particularly not-good situation, Gordon said snowfall rates could exceed an inch an hour between 4 p.m. Monday to midnight. 

“Travel is going to be treacherous, and you might even see the dreaded thing you see sometimes on TV, the thundersnow, where we can get higher amounts,” he said. 

Thundersnow is a rare wintertime thunderstorm that can result in heavy snow fall. 

In anticipation of inclement weather, the Metro snow team has been out treating roads for several days already, he said, and the city has “plenty” of salt: about 35,000 tons of it. 

Public Works director Vanessa Burns said more than 200 truckloads of salt have been transported from Louisville’s Mega Cavern to above-ground city facilities since Friday. She asked for patience with the snow team’s road division as the winter storm moves in because it will take time to plow and salt roads.

“Jefferson County is a huge town,” Burns said. “We have over 5,000 miles and we only treat 2,700 miles. But there could be different weather patterns in different parts of the county… so we just want people to be patient.”

Officials also warned of the possibility of power outages and downed trees or power lines due to the weather. 

City’s Mass Vaccination Site Will Be Closed

The city’s mass vaccination site at Broadbent Arena will be closed Monday.

“But don’t worry, everybody that scheduled will still get their vaccine… doses will be reserved,” Fischer said, adding that the city will send emails to anyone with a Monday appointment about rescheduling. 

The city hasn’t made a decision about closing the vaccination site on Tuesday or later in the week, and will make that call as officials see how bad the storm will be. 

Resources For Those Experiencing Homelessness

In addition to ice and snow, it’s going to be really cold.

It could be in the 20s during the daytime and drop into the teens to single digits at night.

“That is obviously a serious concern for our homeless population,” Fischer said. “It’s also complicated by the pandemic and the need to keep people socially distanced when they’re sheltered.”

Operation White Flag, a program managed by the Coalition for the Homeless which makes sure people experiencing homelessness are safe during severe weather, is in effect, the mayor said.

The city’s Office for Resilience and Community Service is communicating with service organizations and there are beds available, he continued. 

“And space to provide daytime and evening shelter for all those who want it” he said. 

Officials are also working with Wayside Christian Mission to provide transportation to daytime and overnight shelters, and, through this partnership, there is capacity to set up emergency temporary overnight shelters. 

Here’s how to check shelter availability:

  • Salvation Army at 502-671-4904
  • The Healing Place at 502-585-4848 
  • Wayside Christian Mission at 502-996-1888
  • Coalition for the Homeless Single Point of Entry line at 502-637-2337

More Winter Weather Expected Across the State Later In The Week

Following this storm, Metro Louisville could see a significant drop in temperatures and then yet another dump of snow or wintry weather later in the week.

Gordon of the weather service said another major storm could move into Louisville late Wednesday or Thursday. 

That could be followed by a “slow warm up and maybe some river flooding.”

“So once again, have a plan,” he said, again stressing the importance of being prepared. “You want to do something, gas up your car, have a sleeping bag or something, flashlights in case you get in trouble on the roadways.”

All of Kentucky will likely feel the effects of the storms, with the most potential for significant snowfall in central Kentucky, and eastern Kentucky could see significant ice accumulation. 

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear also asked all Kentuckians to brace for two more rounds of wintry weather. 

“As these storms arrive, we need Kentuckians to make a plan for their families to stay safe, warm and, if possible, off the roads,” Beshear said in a press release.

The state’s Transportation Cabinet will focus efforts on keeping interstates, parkways and frequently traveled roads safe. 

“We took advantage of the break in the weather this weekend to replenish salt inventories in our highway district maintenance facilities,” Transportation Secretary Jim Gray said in the release. “Our crews will be working tirelessly to clear roads of snow, but ice poses serious challenges and risks to highway safety; so I continue to urge Kentuckians to restrict travel as much as possible.”

Stephanie Wolf is WFPL's Arts Reporter.