||This historic, prolonged ice storm was called the biggest disaster in modern Kentucky history by the governor of Kentucky. The storm produced at least one inch of ice across western Kentucky. Locally very destructive icing around 1.5 inches occurred from the Mississippi River counties east across Paducah and Madisonville to Owensboro. This resulted in unprecedented damage to utility infrastructure in western Kentucky. One hundred percent of residents in the hardest-hit counties from the Mississippi River to Madisonville were affected by power outages. A utility company serving areas from Ballard to Livingston Counties reported that 20 percent of its system had to be rebuilt. The same company estimated damage to its system alone between 20 and 30 million dollars. At least 5,000 utility poles were broken or down. Power outages averaged about one week in duration, though outages varied greatly in length. Power restoration was slowed by strong gusty winds that started a few days after the storm. Outages generally lasted several days for residents of larger cities, and weeks for rural residents. Several thousand customers in rural counties remained without power three weeks after the storm. During the initial 24 to 48 hours after the storm, gasoline and kerosene were difficult to obtain. Some of the few stores that were open rationed food, supplies, and gas in the 48 hours following the storm. National Guard troops were called upon to assist with food and water distribution at the many shelters that were established. The troops helped clear roads, enforce curfews, and conduct door-to-door welfare checks. More Kentucky National Guard troops were activated for this storm than for the 1997 floods or Hurricane Katrina support. Many thousands of people stayed in shelters during the cold days and nights after the storm. Several hundred people stayed at a shelter in Owensboro, and hundreds more were at a Paducah shelter. Curfews were imposed from dusk to dawn for a few days following the storm. The storm was directly responsible for the death of an elderly man in Hopkins County who died of hypothermia. The 84-year-old man was discovered in his mobile home in White Plains. Nobody had been able to check on him during the ice storm, so the exact date of his death was undetermined. Ten other deaths were indirectly blamed on the ice storm. In Henderson County, a 48-year-old woman at home alone died from hypothermia. The woman had no power and no heat. Her pre-existing health problems were a major contributor to her death. In Calloway County, a 67-year-old man died from a combination of health problems including the hypothermia that prompted his admission to the hospital. Eight more fatalities were indirectly blamed on the storm. In Webster County, four people died during the ice storm. Two fell victim to heart attacks while moving broken branches or shovelling snow. One man died from carbon monoxide poisoning while staying warm in a running vehicle. Another person died because an ambulance could not reach the victim. In Christian and Graves Counties, a man in each county died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a generator. In Trigg County, a man died in a fire caused by an alternate heat source. In McCracken County, a utility worker died during a mishap involving a falling transformer and pole. Numerous injuries (indirect) occurred as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, breathing fumes from stoves, heart stress, slips and falls, and gastrointestinal problems from eating spoiled food. An accurate estimate of the number of injuries was not available. A teenage boy in Hopkins County was seriously injured (direct) when a large tree limb fell on him. Dozens of house fires were sparked by alternate heat sources or electrical problems, including eleven fires on just one night. Most phone and internet communication was lost in the days following the storm. Both land line and cell phone service was spotty at best. Many cell phone towers were damaged or inoperable due to power outages. Due to power outages, some water and sewer plants were inoperable for a time. Tap water was not available in some communities. Many radio stations were off the air due to power outages. Tree damage was widespread. Most trees lost limbs, and some whole trees came down. Besides landing on utility lines, tree limbs landed on roads, cars, and houses. Downed trees and power lines even blocked lanes of Interstate 24 and the Purchase Parkway in spots. Most major roads were opened within 24 hours, but secondary roads were blocked for a week or more in some cases. Removal of tree debris by FEMA contractors from around the nation was expected to last well into the spring.
An area of low pressure formed along the Gulf Coast, then tracked slowly east-northeast. High pressure remained anchored west of the Great Lakes, keeping a cold northeast wind flow in place in the lowest levels of the atmosphere. Copious amounts of moisture moved up from the southwest and overrode the cold air in the low levels. This moisture interacted with a couple of disturbances in the upper levels of the atmosphere moving from west to east across the region. Some sleet was observed during the first several hours of the storm, and the storm ended with a few hours of snow that accumulated from one to two inches. Otherwise, the vast majority of the precipitation fell as freezing rain. From the Hopkinsville area east, temperatures hovered at or just a degree above freezing for most of the storm. This resulted in less ice accumulation and a significantly lower impact there. Across western Kentucky, liquid equivalents from three to four inches were common. The official county historian for Crittenden County stated this was the worst ice storm in the 167 years of the county's history. She stated this storm was worse than the major ice storm in February of 2008 and the one in 1902.