By Beth Musgrave and Valarie Honeycutt Spears, Lexington Herald-Leader
UPDATED: The death toll from a wave of violent weather that struck Kentucky Friday afternoon rose to 16 by Saturday at 9:30 a.m., with an estimated 300 injured, said Kentucky Army National Guard Specialist James Moore. The state was hit late Friday with severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail and torrential rains. The number of deaths and injuries have been climbing since late Friday, as officials have collected reports from various counties.
According to the Adair County Community Voice, Adair County escaped the worst of the storms that passed through Kentucky Friday. But a storm did close the Columbia Walmart. The thunderstorm dumped a large amount of hail in Adair County. The Louie B. Nunn Parkway was covered with hail Friday night. Photos showed the hail to be so thick it appeared almost as snow covering the ground and roadway.
An apparent tornado demolished a volunteer fire department station in the Trimble County community of Milton on Friday afternoon. Further north in Henryville, Indiana, in northern Clark County, there is widespread damage. Henryville High School, according to WAVE-TV in Louisville, is basically gone. The station reports five fatalities so far in Indiana. Baseball-sized hail was reported in Henryville. Back in Kentucky, Greensburg and Campbellsville are in the path of an approaching thunderstorm. WAVE-TV is reporting that drier air is now moving into Kentucky and areas north of the Western Kentucky and Blue Grass parkways are probably in the clear from receiving further severe weather today. But areas in southeast Kentucky are still in a potentially dangerous areas of the state. Storms are now approaching Barren County, according to WAVE-TV.
Severe weather has begun moving through the Ohio Valley region, as tornado warnings or watches have been posted for counties in western and central Kentucky and southern Indiana. Several funnel clouds have been spotted in southern Indiana. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. Forecasters say there’s a strong likelihood that severe thunderstorms passing through the area could spawn tornados, hail and heavy rain. The storms are expected to move out of the Louisville area this evening and exit eastern Kentucky by early morning. People in the path of the storms are being strongly urged to keep a close eye on weather conditions and take proper safety precautions. For the latest storm and flood warnings from the National Weather Service, click here.
John Gordon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Louisville, told The Courier-Journal there is a 70 percent chance of significant damage somewhere in the state today. The weather conditions, Gordon said, are similar to the April 3, 1974 Super Outbreak of tornadoes that struck 13 states, including Kentucky, and Ontario, Canada. Tornadoes on that date caused significant damage to Louisville and wiped out Brandenburg in Meade County and Xenia, Ohio, about 20 miles east of Dayton. Nearly 150 tornadoes were reported that day with many deaths.
By Erica Peterson, Kentucky Public Radio & Lexington Herald Leader
The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management is warning Kentuckians to prepare for the severe storms that will be battering the state this afternoon and evening. There’s a warm front that’s exiting the state towards the northeast, and a cold front that’s entering the state. Kentucky Emergency Management Director John Heltzel says the combination is what could cause problems this afternoon.
Marie Colvin believed in telling real people’s stories, said Bill Mulligan, Murray State University history professor. Colvin was killed Feb. 22, in Homs, Syria, on a reporting assignment for the London Sunday Times. Colvin was a veteran war correspondent with 25 years with the newspaper reporting on conflicts around the world, and most recently in the Middle East. The bombing that took her life also killed French reporter Remi Ochlik. Colvin was Mulligan’s first cousin, younger by eight years.
The National Weather Service office has issued tornado watches for central and western Kentucky and stresses there is a significant threat for severe and tornadic thunderstorms this afternoon and evening for Central Kentucky. A flash flood watch has also been issued for southeast Kentucky. Strong storms are expected to erupt around the I-65 corridor during the early afternoon hours - from 2-4 p.m. EST. These storms will produce large hail, damaging winds and some tornadoes. Some could stay on the ground for long periods. The situation could worsen from 4-5 p.m. EST with storms moving east from along the I-65 corridor toward the Bluegrass Region and Southcentral Kentucky. For the latest storm and flood warnings from the National Weather Service, click here.
Kentucky isn’t exactly Walt Disney World, which dubs itself “the happiest place on Earth,” according to a report released this week. A new Gallup poll lists Kentucky as the second unhappiest state in the United States, ahead of only neighboring West Virginia. Gallup relied on six measures to score each state on a well-being index, as well as six subindexes – including life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behavior and basic access to health care and healthy opportunities, such as places to exercise.
The National Weather Service has confirmed nine tornadoes touched down Wednesday across Kentucky. Most were classified as EF-2 in strength. That means they had estimated wind speeds of 111 to 135 mph. State and local officials also were working Thursday to get a preliminary assessment of the damage from the tornadoes and high winds. The storm system caused damages in several counties and some injuries, but no deaths.
Kentucky isn’t exactly Walt Disney World, which dubs itself “the happiest place on Earth,” according to a report released this week. A new Gallup poll lists Kentucky as the second unhappiest state in the United States, ahead of only neighboring West Virginia.
Just as several Kentucky communities are recovering from destructive tornadoes on Wednesday, the National Weather Service reports another chance for severe thunderstorms and possible tornadoes on Friday. "Friday morning a warm front will move north through the region, and will bring thunderstorms along with it, some of which could be severe with isolated large hail. Then Friday evening a cold front will sweep into the area, with a better chance of severe weather. Damaging winds, hail, and tornadoes all appear possible in the afternoon and evening," according to a statement on the weather service's Louisville website.
Time Warner Cable has completed its purchase of Insight Communications, and changes to branding and service will begin over the next few months. Time Warner paid $3 billion for Insight and will absorb more than three quarters of a million Insight customers in Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. Time Warner will soon begin putting its name in place of Insight’s on buildings, uniforms and customer mailings. Other changes will come later.
WAVE-TV in Louisville is reporting that people are trapped in a building that was damaged by a tornado this morning at the Harry Owen Trucking Co. on the southeast side of Elizabethtown. That's near the intersection of I-65 and the Lincoln Parkway that runs to Hodgenville. The station now says all people at the trucking firm have been accounted for.
The second item on page 16 of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 Legislative Agenda reads, “Expand Gaming to Support Kentucky’s Equine Industry.” Chamber members can now take a red marking pencil and draw a line through that initiative for this session of the General Assembly. As we discussed Monday on Kentucky Tonight, the effort to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to approve expanded gambling failed to pass the state Senate last week. But, according to Dave Adkisson, president of the Kentucky Chamber, there is still time left in the session to pass meaningful and important legislation his members are supporting.
Seven small drinking water treatment systems in Kentucky will receive financial assistance through a new program designed to improve their technical, managerial and financial capabilities to ensure production of safe drinking water in a consistent, cost-effective manner. Small systems are those that serve fewer than 10,000 customers.
This winter’s unseasonably warm conditions could provide ripe conditions for vegetation, some wanted and some unwanted. The average temperature across Kentucky from December until now stands just under 40 degrees. That makes this winter the tenth warmest on record. The warmest winter was in 1932 when the average temperature almost reached 45 degrees. As a result, University of Kentucky Agricultural Meteorologist Tom Priddy says gardeners should still expect problems.
A new study has put a value on the resources lost every year to wildfires in the Appalachian regions of Kentucky and Tennessee. The study, done by researchers at the University of Kentucky and the University of Tennessee, found that fire reduces a forest’s value by nearly half and wildfires take a monetary toll on not only trees, but on a forest’s biodiversity.
Former Frankfort Mayor and philanthropist Frank Sower died Thursday night at Ashwood Place. He was 101. Sower and his wife of 74 years, Minnie Lynn, have generously given to Frankfort’s youth, the elderly and community projects. The longtime businessman owned Sower’s Office Supply downtown with his son, John Sower, until the shop closed in 2008. His death likely stemmed from pneumonia, John Sower told The State Journal this morning.
After sitting idle since the summer of 2009, the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park in Louisville will reopen in May 2013 as Bluegrass Boardwalk. WAVE-TV in Louisville reports the Kentucky Fair Board on Thursday approved a long-term lease with the Koch family, owners of the Holiday World amusement park in Santa Claus, Ind.
For years, the Ford Crown Victoria was the police car of choice for hundreds, if not thousands, of police agencies across the U.S., including the Kentucky State Police. But Ford announced last year it was phasing out the Crown Victoria to be replaced by a new vehicle, the Ford Police Interceptor. The change caused many police agencies to re-evaluate their choice for new police cruisers.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Thursday issued guidelines for selecting three teams that will compete to build a new I-65 bridge in downtown Louisville and rebuild interstate connections on both sides of the Ohio River. The Request for Qualifications (RFQ) seeks design-build teams of bridge- and road-building professionals that will be judged on their proven experience, innovative ideas, inclusion of minorities and women in the workforce and ability to deliver the best value on schedule, according to a press release from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
Officials with the U.S. Postal Service have been studying closing more than two hundred fifty mail processing centers across the country as part of a cost-cutting move. On Thursday they confirmed that the Lexington facility on Nandino Boulevard will be one of them.
The Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission has been awarded a $342,881 federal grant to develop a sediment-focused watershed plan and stream restoration design for Kinniconick Creek in Lewis County. Northern Kentucky University Center for Applied Ecology will supply the $228,587 nonfederal match, for a total project cost of $571,468.
A gorgeous, sunny morning begs you to come out to a backwoods area you’ve never visited before. As the morning turns to afternoon, the clear blue skies turn cloudy and colder. On your way back, you discover that the log at your feet is the same one you passed a half-hour ago…or is it? Do you know where you are? You wish you had checked in with a friend or relative prior to hitting the trail. Would you know what to do? Would you know how to do it?
The Louisville Courier-Journal and WAVE-TV are reporting that an Indiana group comprised of owners of the Holiday World amusement park at Santa Claus, Ind. have a tentative agreement with the Kentucky Fair Board to reopen the now-closed Kentucky Kingdom amusement park in Louisville. Four members of the Koch family, owners and operators of Holiday World, formed a separate company recently called Bluegrass Boardwalk with the intent of reopening Kentucky Kingdom.
Some western Kentucky residents may have felt a rumble this morning as US Geological Service officials say a magnitude 4 earthquake took place in Southeast Missouri. Reports say the quake started around four o’clock this morning, about 5 miles north of East Prarie, Missouri. The epicenter was around 3 miles deep. There are no reports of damage at this time.
Preliminary statistics indicate that five people died in five separate crashes on Kentucky roadways from Monday, Feb. 13, through Sunday, Feb. 19. All of the fatalities involved motor vehicles and three victims were not wearing seat belts. Single-fatality crashes occurred in Breckinridge, Floyd, Henderson, Madison and Washington counties. The crash in Henderson County involved the suspected use of alcohol, according to a KSP press release.
Virgil Pearman was best known for his work as a homebuilder and his service in Kentucky’s General Assembly. But those closest to him recalled the late legislator as putting family first. Hours after Pearman died Friday at age 78 at Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown, Joe Pearman remembered his brother as a man who would rather have a grandchild bouncing on his knee than talk to the president. Eventually Pearman went on to serve multiple terms in the state House of Representatives and one term in the state Senate before leaving office in 1993.