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Snow, ice expected throughout the day

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

Super Bowl Sunday brings an influx of winter precipitation and potentially hazardous road conditions to the local area.

After warm temperatures that reached the 60-degree mark Saturday, temperatures are set to plummet to the 20s with accumulation predicted over a six-hour period from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. today, according to lead forecaster Greg Meffert at the National Weather Service in Paducah.

He said the day's high temperature of mid-30s to 40 degrees will be felt in the morning, with temperatures gradually decreasing throughout the day, to below freezing by 3 p.m. and in the upper 20s by sunset. As the temperatures dip down, precipitation in the area that will begin as rain will change to freezing rain and sleet and then to snow in the later afternoon and early evening.

Weather models are predicting between 1 and 2 inches of snow but that number could vary depending on what time the snow begins. If snow accumulates, it will fall on top of an existing layer of ice causing deceptively treacherous driving conditions, according to Meffert.

"It's more dangerous with a layer of ice and sleet below," he said. "It would be better if it was all snow. I would travel early on Sunday and then stay in starting in the afternoon."

Keith Todd, spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said crews planned to begin pretreating highways in the 12 westernmost counties beginning at 7 a.m. today and continue throughout the day and into Monday. But alterations in the forecast and an increase in the amount of rain Saturday will prohibit planned pretreating.

He said officials will monitor the road conditions and respond throughout the day today. Due to time constraints, crews will first focus the pretreating process, which involves spraying brine onto road surfaces that leaves salt on roadways, on A-level priority routes, then move to the B- and C-level roads.

"Sometimes it happens when changes in the weather force us to punt," he said. "Things change but our guys are equipped to deal with it and handle the weather accordingly."

The end of winter typically brings about more weather-related vehicle accidents due to overconfident motorists, who are less cautious compared with weather events early in the season, according to Todd.

"This time of year, we see more crashes because people are going too fast and not paying attention to warnings," he said. "We urge people to slow down and take it easy on the roads."

Another predicted winter weather event, set to begin on Tuesday afternoon and continue into the evening, has shifted from possible snow to primarily rain. The local area will feel a brief warm-up with temperatures around 40 degree on Tuesday before the rain brings another cold front. Late Friday and into Saturday also brings the chance for another influx of precipitation comprised of either rain or a snow-rain mixture, Meffert said.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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