By Jennifer Edwards Baker and The Kentucky Enquirer
Credit Creative Commons
Kentucky is in for a bit of unsettled weather over the next several days as winter shifts into spring. A possible mix of rain, thunderstorms, snow showers and temperatures ranging some 30 degrees - from the upper 20s to the mid-50s - dominate the forecast. “It’s a roller coaster,” said Scott Hickman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio.
A new bill signed into law by Governor Steve Beshear last week clarifies the rules that regulate biomass plants in Kentucky. The bill gives additional guidance to the Public Service Commission on how to regulate biomass plants that sell power to a utility in Kentucky, with one particular project in mind: a biomass plant outside Hazard. Construction on the plant—owned by Lexington-based ecoPower—is expected to begin on the plant sometime this year.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Northern Kentucky beginning at 11 a.m. today and continuing until 1 p.m. Wednesday. Three to 5 inches of snow along with some ice is possible. Rain will mix with snow late this afternoon and then change over to all snow tonight.
Today is the official start of the tornado season. Kentucky led all states in 2012 with 23 tornado fatalities - the result of tornadoes that struck several locations around the state on March 2, 2012. Many experts say that preparedness is the key to avoid being a tornado fatality.
A former mine company executive in West Virginia pleaded guilty today to federal charges stemming from the 2010 disaster at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine. David Hughart was the Massey division president overseeing the mine when it exploded, killing 29 coal miners.
American Electric Power has agreed to stop burning coal at several coal-fired units in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. The company reached a settlement today with a coalition of environmental groups, several states and the Environmental Protection Agency.
White Nose Syndrome has been found in two Kentucky state parks. State officials announced today that infected bats have turned up in caves at Carter Cave State Resort Park in Carter County and the Kingdom Come State Park Nature Preserve in Letcher County. White Nose Syndrome is caused by a white fungus, and is deadly to bats. Since 2006, the fungus has been found in 21 states. The disease has killed more than 6 million bats in four Canadian provinces and 19 states, including Kentucky. It was discovered in Mammoth Cave last month.
It will be partly sunny today across most of Kentucky and the high will flirt with 60 degrees. But rain is likely in many areas of the state during the overnight hours with a low in the upper 30s. Friday morning could see more showers but it could turn mostly sunny by the afternoon with a high of near 45, according to the National Weather Service.
Louisville Gas and Electric could pay up to $250,000 to settle alleged safety violations that stemmed from a natural gas explosion in southern Jefferson County a year ago. The December 2011 natural gas explosion in southern Jefferson County destroyed a house, damaged several nearby properties and killed a dog. In the settlement, LG&E will pay $125,000 to the Public Service Commission. Another $125,000 in penalties is suspended pending the company’s completion of several remedial measures. The penalties are the highest ever assessed by the PSC in a safety case.
Much of the state could see a wintry mix of rain and snow later today and tonight. Just traces amounts of snow are possible, according to the National Weather Service. We could see some sunshine on Tuesday with highs in the upper 30s. It could be in the low 40s by Wednesday.
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has released the long-awaited draft version of the city’s sustainability plan. It’s an ambitious list of ways the city wants to be greener, but some of the goals and initiatives will be difficult to measure. The plan is broken up into six sections: energy, the environment, transportation, the economy, community and engagement. It sets out 19 main goals that the city wants to achieve, and sets deadlines for most of them.
The National Weather Service offices in Louisville and Jackson have issued winter weather advisories. Predictions are that anywhere from a half-inch to 2 inches of snow could fall tonight and early Friday morning, the weather service said.
Environmental groups have filed a new document in a case against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over a surface mine in eastern Kentucky. Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and the Sierra Club are fighting a permit the Army Corps granted to a coal company. They say the Corps is required to take potential health effects from a project into account before granting a permit…and in this case, the agency ignored studies that have been done over the past few years showing associations between health problems and mountaintop removal mining.
By Jennifer Edwards Baker and The Kentucky Enquirer
It feels like spring outside today with a temperature of 54 degrees at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. The high later will soar to 67, just one degree shy of the record on this date, set 99 years ago in 1914, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio. It will be mostly cloudy. A major change is coming early Wednesday as a strong cold front approaches from the west, bringing the potential for hazardous showers and thunderstorms by 4 a.m.
Data from the Kentucky Cancer Registry. There's a significant difference in rates when the 95% confidence intervals don't overlap.
Credit Erica Peterson/ WFPL
A new analysis shows that certain cancers are more prevalent in areas near the Rubbertown neighborhood in west and southwest Louisville. But it’s impossible to determine what role—if any—pollution from nearby industries plays in the elevated cancer rates. Everyone in Rubbertown knows someone with cancer. But are people in these neighborhoods actually more likely to get cancer than other Louisville residents? I called someone who should know: Dr. Tom Tucker, the head of the Kentucky Cancer Registry.
Gov. Steve Beshear has proclaimed February as Earthquake Awareness Month in Kentucky as local, state and federal officials continue to prepare for The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut Earthquake Drill, scheduled for Feb. 7, 2013. The 2013 Great Central U.S. ShakeOut is expected to involve more than 2 million people through a broad‐based outreach program, partnerships with the media, and public advocacy.
Chalk air pollution regulators up as the latest group to splinter because of increasingly divisive partisanship in Washington, D.C. Regulators from 17 states—including Kentucky and Indiana—are forming a new association to assist states with air pollution policies. Right now, 43 states are members of a group called the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, or NACAA. The group has been around for 32 years, and is a non-partisan member organization that represents state and local air regulators.
Today's high will only be in the upper teens across Kentucky. And tonight will again see Arctic air invade the state as lows hit around 10 degrees with wind chills even lower. It will warm to about 30 on Wednesday and Thursday. But a wintry mix of precipitation will hit the state Thursday night. The chance for precipitation is 70 percent, according to the National Weather Service in Louisville.
We're stuck with bitterly cold air until Thursday of this week and even then the high will only be slightly warmer than the freezing mark. But compared to the high temperatures today, Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday's high of 33 will seem warm in comparison.
White Nose Syndrome has been confirmed in Mammoth Cave National Park. White Nose Syndrome is caused by a white fungus, and is deadly to bats. Since 2006, the fungus has been found in 21 states. The disease has killed more than 6 million bats in four Canadian provinces and 19 states, including Kentucky. Mammoth Cave has been taking steps to keep the fungus out of its caves--like making visitors walk over cleansing mats--but park superintendent Sarah Craighead confirmed the disease's presence today.
The National Weather Service office in Louisville has issued a winter weather advisory for sleet from 5 p.m. EST today to 5 a.m. EST Wednesday. Cities in the advisory area include Leitchfield, Elizabethtown, Lawrenceburg, Versailles, Lexington, Paris, Carlisle, Bardstown, Springfield, Harrodsburg, Lebanon, Danville, Lancaster, Richmond, Morgantown, Brownsville, Munfordville, Greensburg, Campbellsville, Liberty, Stanford, Russellville, Bowling Green, Franklin, Scottsville and Glasgow.
The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection has finished analyzing data of all the toxic chemicals that were released in the state in 2011. Since 1986, companies have been required to report the number of pounds of toxic chemicals they release into the air, into water and on land, and there’s been a definite downward trend in Kentucky as new regulations go on the books.
Kentucky’s second sandhill crane hunting season is officially over. This year hunters killed 92 birds—42 more than last year. Most of the birds killed were in Hardin and Barren counties on private land. No more than 400 birds could be hunted during the season, and the actual amount taken didn’t come even close to that. But Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Migratory Bird Specialist Rocky Pritchert says the department is counting the season as a success.
In Rubbertown, industrial and residential areas coexist.
Credit Credit Erica Peterson / WFPL
All of the major factories in Louisville's Rubbertown area have permits that allow them to put specific amounts of certain chemicals into the air. But when residents report unpleasant smells, it’s hard to know where they’re coming from and whether a factory is violating its permit. If you live near Rubbertown on the West End, there's a lot to worry about. There's a possibility of a major disaster—like the explosion that ripped through the DuPont plant in 1965 or the 2011 explosion at Union Carbide. But day-to-day, the pressing concern is the odor in the air and what chemicals and health complications they might bring.
In the late 1990s, Louisville spent nearly $200 million revitalizing a blighted area on the West End. Park DuValle emerged—and has since been nationally-recognized as a model mixed-income community. But one thing the city couldn't change was the neighborhood's location. And like the housing projects that stood before it, Park DuValle is next to Louisville’s industrial area. Residents say the odors in the air are often unbearable.
Trish Lee’s small yellow house is a block away from Bells Lane, where many of the Rubbertown factories are concentrated. From her backyard, she can’t see the chemical plants, rail yards and oil refineries that have stood down the street for decades — but she can smell them just about anywhere.
Lexington city crews are out and about scanning for cut Christmas trees in area neighborhoods. The tree recycling program has been in place for years. Outreach and Education Director Mark York says all kinds of evergreens are ground up and the mulch distributed throughout the year to area citizens. “A live cut tree is again a resource that we can use and turn that into mulch, instead of that tree going to a landfill. The most important thing for residents is to be sure to remove all the decorations and lights from the tree before we pick it up and take it to the pad where it will be turned into mulch,” said York.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is urging motorists to use caution because of high winds in the forecast for today and tonight. The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory, indicating the region can expect sustained winds above 20 miles per hour with gusts as high as 50 miles per hour at times through tonight. This will create hazardous driving conditions until at least midnight and possibly into Friday morning.
The federal government has strengthened the national air quality standard for soot and fine particle pollution. The new standard is 20 percent more stringent than the current standard, which was set in 1997. It will require communities to make sure fine particle pollution is limited to 12 micrograms per cubic meter annually (the current limit is 15).