Polar vortex

Patricia Cinnamon bundled up against the cold Wednesday. The temperature at the time of this photo was 7 degrees, and wind chills are expected to be below zero through Thursday.

Right on cue, the polar vortex slammed into Georgetown Tuesday evening as an arctic cold front swept through the area. The plummeting temperatures and extreme wind chills led to the cancellation of Scott County Schools Wednesday and Thursday, and many church services across the area.

Temperatures Wednesday afternoon were in the single digits and wind chills were in the negative-teens, and forecast to stay there overnight and through Thursday morning before rising to the teens Thursday afternoon. Fortunately, temperatures are forecast to soar near 60 early next week.

According to a press release from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, District 7, Georgetown was the coldest spot in the district at 9 a.m. Wednesday at 4 degrees. The road temperature was 11 degrees. The release cautioned that temperatures would decline throughout the day, and black ice could form on roadways that have been treated.

Scott County Emergency Management and Homeland Security had arranged for short-term warming shelters to open at the Scott County Senior Citizens Center, Church of the Nazarene on Lemons Mill Road and Great Crossing Baptist Church on Stamping Ground Road. As of noon Wednesday, the Emergency Management Office said they had made calls and no one had needed the shelters.

Renee Holmes, community education director for Scott County Schools, said officials monitor conditions and the forecast for Thursday morning before making a decision to close.

“Fortunately, the wind chills and temperatures with this front were easier to be prepared for and we could go on and make the decision to close Wednesday on Tuesday afternoon. Sometimes it is hard to decide because wind chills are harder to predict,” she said, Wednesday morning before it was announced schools would close on Thursday. “We monitor the forecast and talk with area districts to decide about Thursday, but keep the students in mind and err on the side of caution when it comes to weather conditions.”

Mail delivery was cancelled in parts of 10 northern states where air temperatures were predicted to be colder than parts of Antarctica. But in the United States Postal Service Kentuckiana District, which includes Scott County, mail delivery will continue. Carrier Tim Lunsford was walking his downtown route Wednesday morning.

“This is the coldest it’s been in a couple of years,” he said while making his rounds. “I’ve got an 11-mile walk total, but I can get in the vehicle and warm up. I’ve been doing it 24 years, and it is part of it. But it is pretty cold.”

Susan Wright, spokesperson for the USPS Kentuckiana District, said the cold temperatures had no impact on delivery in the district, but that carriers could use their judgment if they could not make their scheduled rounds.

“We give them tips and go over safety protocol,” she said. “They know to rest in warm places and if they start feeling numbness or it is too cold to make their rounds, they can come back to the office and let us know.”

How expansive is this brutal cold? According to reports, 72 percent of the continental United States will see temperatures drop below zero over the next few days. Some Milwaukee beer deliveries were on hold because of the cold, and train tracks in Chicago were being set on fire to keep trains in the city moving.

Steve Mcclain can be reached at smcclain@news-graphic.com.

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