Jimmy Kelly spreads salt Thursday morning in the parking lot of First United Methodist Church in downtown Richmond in single digit temperatures. The National Weather Service predicts temperatures near zero degrees or below for Friday morning.

Madison County Schools were canceled for the second day in a row today, giving its students and unexpected five-day weekend.

Schools also will be closed Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Superintendent Tommy Floyd said Thursday the extreme cold temperatures predicted for Thursday night and Friday prompted the decision.

Temperatures dipped into single digits Thursday morning, and the National Weather Service predicted temperatures near zero or below for Friday morning, with wind chill equivalents to minus 10 degrees.

Neither Berea Community Schools nor Model Laboratory School canceled school Thursday.

A Berea Community School spokesperson said the independent district has short bus routes and rarely cancels classes because of frigid temperatures.

Model Laboratory School, operated by Eastern Kentucky University, generally follows the university schedule, a spokesperson said.

The Madison County School District canceled classes “out of concern for the number of students who wait for our buses in the mornings at their designated pickup points,” Floyd said at 3 p.m. Thursday. “We don’t want to take any risks of exposure to severe temperatures.”

Floyd said he consulted with district leadership as well as leaders of surrounding districts in making the decision to close school on Friday.

“Districts like Fayette, Clark, Woodford, Pulaski and many others also canceled Friday classes for the same reasons,” he said.

Floyd also cited the potential of motorists and their passengers becoming stranded in the cold as a reason to cancel classes.

Sgt. Willard Reardon, Richmond Police spokesperson, said roads in the city were “slick” Thursday morning between 6 a.m. and sunrise as a band of snow showers moved through the area.

“We received calls about several vehicles that had run off the road,” he said. “It was certainly slick enough to justify keeping school buses off the road.”

The school district’s maintenance and transportation departments “do an excellent job having our schools and buses ready for any conditions,” Floyd said. “But when nearly 10,000 children are being transported to school each day, whether by bus or private vehicle, we have to take their safety into consideration when these types of conditions prevail.”

The NWS wind-chill advisory was in effect until 8 a.m. today.

A frigid arctic air mass brought Central Kentucky its coldest temperatures since 2004, according to the weather service.

“A wind-chill advisory means that very cold air and winds will combine to generate conditions that will result in frostbite if precautions are not taken,” stated a bulletin on the NWS Web site. “If you must venture outdoors, dress warmly and avoid exposure to skin. Make sure children and pets especially are protected.”

Madison County Extension Agent Brandon Sears said farmers should ensure that livestock have plenty of high-energy feed, such as good-quality hay and perhaps a corn supplement.

“They also should ensure that livestock’s water supplies are not frozen,” he said.

“Young livestock, such as small calves and goats, should be moved inside barns or other buildings.”

David Martin of Bluegrass Plumbing in Richmond said he had received only “a couple of calls” from home owners with frozen pipes Thursday.

“We’re getting prepared for Friday morning, when we expect to get more calls,” he said.

“If pipes are accessible, you should insulate them,” Martin said. “Vents and other openings to crawl spaces and other areas where pipes may be exposed should be closed to keep out drafts.

Bill Robinson can be reached at or at 623-1669, Ext. 267.

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