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National

Motorists Stranded On Kentucky Highways Due To Heavy Snow

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

In Kentucky, more than 600 cars and trucks were stranded on two interstate highways last night due to heavy falling snow. Some people were stuck in their vehicles for more than 12 hours. For more on this, we turn now to Chad Lampe. He's news director at WKMS in Murray, Ky. And Chad, why don't you describe the scene for us?

CHAD LAMPE: Well, there's been a total of about 18 to 20 inches of snowfall across the state of Kentucky. And the governor, Steve Beshear, has declared a state of emergency. This is the second time in just about three weeks for the entire state. And road crews are working awfully hard to clear main thoroughfares like Interstate 24 here in Western Kentucky and I-65, which runs along Central Kentucky.

And there has been progress on clearing the roads. But then motorists are getting out on the highways, and we're seeing more traffic snarls, because they seem to think that it's a bit safer to be out since they think the roads may be a bit clearer.

BLOCK: Yeah, and the images from those interstates - 24 and 65 -were really striking - just ribbons of trucks and cars stranded overnight.

LAMPE: That's correct. Some were stranded for, you know, more than 12 hours. Some vehicles sit empty on the side of the road. And we're unclear how many people actually may still be in their vehicles. But we've been told from highway crews that both lanes of I-24 are moving now. And that's good news for folks traveling through the state of Kentucky.

BLOCK: Yeah, I understand the National Guard was called out.

LAMPE: Yeah, about 85 troops have been deployed across the state, assisting with motorists, delivering snacks, water and using their own tow trucks to get vehicles back out and moving on the roadway.

BLOCK: Were you able to talk to any of the folks who were stuck in the snow storm?

LAMPE: We talked to a couple of folks. And what's interesting is many of them are not from around here. So they didn't hear the drum beat the National Weather Service started earlier in the week that urged people to limit travel if possible. A gentleman named Sean Kroczynski (PH) from Mosinee, Wis. was on his way to a fishing tournament in Alabama.

SEAN KROCZYNSKI: Kind of been stuck here for about four or five hours. They need to get a few more plows on the road, because you wouldn't have this problem back up north.

LAMPE: He was sitting at a gas station along Interstate 24. Luckily, he was able to make it off the roadway.

BLOCK: Eighteen to 20 inches of snow in Kentucky, Chad, you mentioned. Is that anything on the order of what Kentucky would be prepared for in the winter?

LAMPE: Typically, in far Western Kentucky where we are, we receive maybe one or two of snow events each year. And they range maybe between one to four inches. So here in Western Kentucky 16 inches, in Central Kentucky about 20 inches - it is excessive for our state.

BLOCK: OK, Chad Lampe, thanks so much. Hang in there.

LAMPE: Thank you.

BLOCK: That's Chad Lampe, news director with public radio station WKMS in Murray, Ky. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.