National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


A complex winter storm lifted across the Southeast US on January 16th bringing with it a sloppy mess of freezing rain, rain, snow, and sleet followed by a blanket of heavy wet snow. Low pressure initially tracked from the Mississippi Valley to the Upper Tennessee Valley, where it decayed late in the evening. Meanwhile, a much stronger low developed over the Southeast US and tracked up the Atlantic Seaboard as a Nor'easter. This system initially caused a band of light snow, sleet, and freezing rain to lift northward across eastern Kentucky during the morning hours. Precipitation amounts were light but sufficient to cause slick travel in some locations. A nose of warm air aloft eventually transitioned the precipitation over to mainly rain or freezing rain for most locations by midday, as temperatures nudged to near or above the freezing mark. For much of the late morning through mid to late afternoon, strong shadowing from the Great Smoky Mountains/Southern Appalachians, kept the precipitation light and showery in nature. Eventually, cooler air filtered in aloft and eroded the remnant warm nose enough to allow the precipitation to transition back over to just snow. As this occurred, most of the precipitation became confined to a narrow but intense snow band that set up near I-75 and the Daniel Boone National Forest during the later afternoon and evening. Under this band, snowfall rates reached 1-2 inches per hour and piled up a quick 5 to 9 inch of accumulation of heavy wet snow, leading to thousands of power outages from McCreary and Whitley counties northward to Menifee County. Meanwhile, counties to the east missed out with just some showery light precipitation. As the evening wore on, the band of heavy, wet snow slowly shifted eastward and split up into multiple weaker bands -- still heavy enough to leave a 2 to 5 inch blanket of bough-bending wet snow in most locations, transforming the gray winter landscape into a snowy wonderland. The deeper valley locations of Knott, and Floyd counties, including the cities of Prestonsburg and Hindman, missed out on most of this activity, only receiving 1 to 2 inches. 

Fresh Snowfall in Fogertown, Clay County
(Courtesy of Cassidy Hensley)
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