Severe weather brings state of emergency declaration in Kentucky

Published 6:03 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2024

With one round of severe weather impacting Kentucky Tuesday morning, and more expected during the afternoon and evening hours, several public agencies closed early and Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency and activated the State Emergency Operations Center..

Storm updates include:

  • No reported injuries.
  • The National Weather Service has confirmed an EF-1 tornado in Nelson County and an EF-1 tornado in Anderson County. A review is ongoing in Mercer County.
  • Damage reported in Anderson, Bath, Ballard, Bourbon, Boyd, Carter, Clark, Elliott, Fayette, Greenup, Kenton, Jefferson, Jessamine, Mercer, Montgomery, Nelson, Powell, Union and Woodford counties.
  • Written disaster declarations have been received from Boyd County; Greenup County; city of Ashland and city of Catlettsburg.
  • Verbal disaster declarations have been received from Bourbon, Clark, Elliott, Jessamine and Kenton counties and the city of Villa Hill.
  • Current power outages: 31,650.

One of the first to shut down was the University of Kentucky, which canceled all in-person classes starting at 12:30. In making the announcement, UK officials said, “Damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes are possible until 10 p.m. This type of weather event is unusual for the Lexington area and the safety of our campus community is our top priority.”

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In addition to cancelling classes, on-campus employees except those designated as Plan B employees were also sent home at 12:30. UK HealthCare hospitals and other essential services remained open.

UK is not the only location impacted in Lexington. Mayor Linda Gorton said, “We suffered significant damage this morning, with trees down, roads blocked, and traffic signals out after a first wave of storms with high winds moved through our city.” She also noted that more significant storms are in the forecast, adding, “Residents need to remain vigilant and stay indoors if possible.”

Even garbage pick-up was halted in Lexington, because downed trees and power lines made many roads impassable for the large trucks.

Beshear ordered all executive branch office buildings in the state closed at 1 p.m.

The Kentucky Personnel Cabinet notified executive branch employees that:

–All telecommuting employees shall continue to work based on their scheduled work hours.

–Essential employees designated for mandatory operations should continue to report to work.  Essential employees include but are not limited to those who work in 24-hour facilities such as parks, hospitals, prisons, or residential facilities; law enforcement and emergency management personnel; and highway and road crews.

–Those non-essential employees who are scheduled to work in an Executive Branch state office building and can perform duties remotely, shall continue to work based on their scheduled work hours via telecommuting. If they cannot perform duties remotely, they should not report to work and will receive closure pay.

In addition, the governor activated Kentucky’s anti-price-gouging laws.

“We have reports of substantial damage to a number of structures – and thankfully, as of right now we are not aware of any fatalities,” Beshear said. “We need all Kentuckians to stay weather aware as we brace for more severe weather throughout the afternoon and evening.”

Many parts of Kentucky remain under tornado or flood watches into this evening.