Mayor Fischer warns of extreme cold; JCPS cancels school Monday - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Mayor Fischer warns of extreme cold; JCPS cancels school Monday

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer held a press conference Sunday afternoon to inform the public about expected winter weather over the next few days -- and how the city plans to prepare for it.

During that press conference, JCPS announced that school will be closed on Monday due to extreme cold weather and the dangers kids will face.

"After consulting with the National Weather Service and city officials, and hearing their analysis of tomorrow's unprecedented weather conditions, I've made the decision to cancel school for Monday, January 6," JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens said.

"Given the absolute certainty of this situation, it made no sense to wait to let families know that there will not be school tomorrow, on Monday, January 6," she added.

Mayor Fischer opened the press conference with a dramatic statement.

"Over the next 48 hours with this impending polar vortex that's coming, we're going to be experiencing some of the coldest temperatures that we've felt in decades," Fischer said. "In addition to that, we're going to have 1-2 inches of snow. So it's really, really important that all of our citizens are prepared for this bitter weather, just as the first responders have been preparing for these difficult two days ahead."

John Gordon, the chief meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Louisville, also chimed in.

"This is a serious situation," Gordon said. "This is the coldest air we've had in 15-20 years across the Metropolitan area. A wind chill warning is really going to be the main story."

Gordon said that rain the city was seeing Sunday afternoon would transition to a rain-snow mix between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Sunday night. He said it would transition to all-snow between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m., and that the city would receive two inches of snow overnight.

The temperatures would also plunge, Gordon said.

"Right now we're at 55 degrees here in Derby City, USA," he said. "The next thing you're gonna know, we're going to be at zero by morning. So we're concerned about a flash freeze for the community tomorrow morning."

Gordon said the wind chill overnight could reach temperatures as low as 25 degrees below zero. He also warned about the dangers of frostbite.

"It does not take long at all," he said. "You've got to protect your extremities: your ears, your arms, your feet."

Mayor Fischer reiterated Gordon's statements.

"Our biggest concern is not so much the snowfall, but it's gonna be these really, really cold temperatures that we have coming at us," Fischer said.

He also warned about the dangers of space heaters.

"If past experiences hold true, we know what's going to happen: some people are going to be using alternative sources of energy, and sometimes those sources can be very dangerous and ultimately deadly," Fischer said. "Unfortunately, we've already seen that with the deaths of three young folks in Southern Indiana that officials believe was due to a space heater that caused a fire just a couple of days ago."

(Fischer was referencing THIS STORY.)

"You'll recall also that the city had deaths during the ice storm several years ago because people used generators in the house, just like we mentioned before," Fischer said. "That leads to carbon monoxide poisoning. So please be very, very careful with alternative sources of heat."

Debbie Fox, the director of Louisville's Emergency Management Agency, explained that several local utility companies and Metro services organizations met this afternoon to plan their winter weather response, and several had tips that they wanted to share with the public.

"Our theme is really to be prepared," she said. "You have time to be prepared."

She suggested that families create what she called an "emergency supply kit," which includes necessities like a weather radio and a means of communication. She said it's important to have all of these necessities when traveling by vehicle as well.

Fox said the Louisville Water Company has asked that residents keep a small flow of water going in all faucets, and that residents know where the water shut-off valve is in their homes.

Metro Animal Services is asking pet owners to bring their pets indoors, according to Fox. She said that if you take your pet outside, they should stay on a leash and you should keep them in eyesight at all times. She added that anyone getting inside their car should bang on the hood several times to make sure there are no stray cats underneath.

Fox said that Metro Public Works vehicles will be treating the roads tonight, and that motorists are asked to stay off the streets if at all possible.

LG&E has two phone numbers viewers can use to report gas or electric problems, as well as downed powerlines. Those numbers are (502) 589-1444 and (800) 331-7370.

Fox said LMPD would be out in full force looking for homeless people who needed to come in from the cold. She said the Coalition for the Homeless is currently set at "white flag," and that there is extra capacity at the Jefferson Street Baptist Church at 733 E. Jefferson, so homeless people are welcome to seek shelter there.

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