Long day of snow plowing for crews in one of Kentucky’s largest counties

GRAVES COUNTY, KY – Thursday night, when temperatures and rain began to fall, road crews across our region knew a long day at work was ahead.

The rain soon turned into freezing rain, which was followed by inches of snow for parts of our region. That put state, county, and city plow trucks on duty shortly after 3 a.m. Friday.

It wasn’t until after 5 p.m. Friday that the snowfall stopped in Graves County, Kentucky. Graves County Road Department Supervisor Eric Thompson called Friday a “back and forth” battle. Basically, the snow was falling faster than crews could clean it up. “Right now, we’re plowing roads, and then an hour later it doesn’t even look like we run down it,” Thompson says.

His crews didn’t necessarily make headway and completely clear the streets, but they accomplished their goal of preventing hard packing. Hard packing results after accumulation sits and compresses, making it more difficult to plow.

One of the biggest challenges Thompson’s team faces is geography. Graves County is the largest, by square miles, Kentucky county in the Local 6 viewing area, and its one of the largest in the state.

Crews divided the county into six zones. Each zone has two trucks working the streets. With more than 650 miles, it still isn’t easy.

Thomason says the county’s geography takes 35 minutes to drive across in good weather. Another obstacle they face is that snowplow drivers are not allowed, by law, to be behind the wheel for more than 14 hours at a time.

Scotty Smith has worked for the road department for more than 23 years. He has a cold, and at times, dangerous job. “You’ve got to put up with the elements, and sometimes you’ve got the traffic out there and all these drifts. If the wind is blowing, it drifts up really bad, and it makes it sometimes nerve racking,” he explains. Despite the obstacles, the job is still worth it to Smith.

While we were at the road department speaking with Thompson, we heard a crew call in because they had gotten stuck. Numerous windshield wiper blades and plow blades needed replacing as well. This was all reported in day one of this winter weather.

Smith and his crew plan to stick it out until the roads are safe again. “Everybody works hard out there, everybody. We try to do the best we can to make it safe for everybody,” he says.

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