Sheriff: ‘It was a long 24 hours’


Blizzard-like weather that began Thursday night created white-out conditions, a large amount of car accidents and approximately 2,000 power outages, according to authorities. It all made for an extremely busy and dangerous Christmas weekend for Fayette County first responders.

“Once the storm started, we had numerous vehicle slide-offs almost simultaneously all over the county,” said Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth. “The wind and cold temperatures caused white-out conditions that lasted almost 24 hours. We didn’t get a lot of snow, but even one inch of snow causes havoc with the strong winds that we had. The slide-offs were everywhere….the interstate, 35 and county roads. Also, there were semis that jack-knifed all over the county.”

The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office received 112 calls for service on Thursday, 70 on Friday, 217 on Saturday and 116 on Sunday.

The most serious accident from the weekend was a head-on collision between a semi-truck and car on US 35 near Palmer Road. Those involved in the crash were taken to the hospital, but there did not appear to be life-threatening injuries, according to Stanforth.

Stanforth added that only one wrecker service, Billy Parrish’s, responded during the worst of the winter weather.

“They literally worked around the clock,” he said. “Our deputies and many other first responders across Fayette County braved the inclement road conditions, brutal temperatures and drifting snow; assisting motorists who have slid off the roadway or became stuck in drifts while traveling. It was a long 24 hours.”

At the height of the storm on Friday, approximately 2,000 residences lost power, but that number dropped rapidly.

“AES and the power services were able to get to the homes relatively quickly,” said Stanforth. “There were never any mass outages and I haven’t heard about power being out for an extended period of time.”

On Friday through Saturday morning, Fayette County was under a Level 3 snow emergency, which means all roadways were closed to non-emergency personnel.

By Monday, the snow emergency had been downgraded to a Level 1, which means roadways are hazardous with blowing and drifting snow. Roads may also be icy. Motorists are urged to drive very cautiously.

“We’re still at Level 1 until this front moves through Monday and Tuesday,” Stanforth said Monday afternoon. “However, the secondary roads with snow and ice on them are all passable.”

Conditions are expected to improve in Fayette County the rest of the week as no more snow is predicted, according to Temperatures are also expected to improve with highs in the 50s by the weekend.

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