This satellite image taken on Thursday at 1:45 PM EST shows a large mass of clouds in the East as very messy weather grips the region. Heavy rain in the Southeast, while snow for Missouri through Kentucky.
updated 2/21/2008 6:34:29 PM ET 2008-02-21T23:34:29

Ice and sleet have covered a large section of Kentucky, but forecasters are calling for warmer temperatures that would allow the frozen precipitation to melt away.

National Weather Service meteorologist Angie Lese said warm air was following the cold that blasted into the state on Thursday. Lese says it will raise temperatures and lower the risk of anymore freezing rain through large parts of Kentucky.

Temperatures are expected to rise throughout the evening and into Friday morning to at or above freezing, allowing roads to clear and turning frozen precipitation into rain.

The cold blast prompted Western Kentucky University to cancel classes at its extended campuses and schools around the state were dismissing early because of the weather. Louisville's city employees were being let off work in phases, city officials said, in an attempt to get them off the roads before conditions became too slick.

"The roads have gotten treacherous," said Bob Skipper, a Western Kentucky University spokesman.

Mark Brown, a spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Transportation, said there were reports of hazardous conditions on some roads, including Interstate 65 in Simpson and Warren counties, and some stretches of Interstate 24 and the Louis B. Nunn Cumberland Parkway.

In eastern Kentucky, a winter storm warning runs from Thursday afternoon through Friday morning with ice accumulations also possible as snow and sleet change over to freezing rain.

How long the ice stays around is still in question, said Jim Packett, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Paducah. The "freezing line," where temperatures will stay below 32 degrees is forecast to extend from Paducah northeast through Owensboro, but could shift, Packett said.

Areas below that line will see rain on Friday that could melt away any ice accumulations, Packett said.

The weather service issued a winter weather advisory for northern Kentucky from Thursday evening through Friday, with about an inch of snow expected.

Harold Scholl, a spokesman for Kentucky State Police in Columbia in south-central Kentucky, said roads were getting slick on Thursday morning and accidents were being reported.

Brown said crews have been treating roads since Tuesday in preparation for the storm.

"We are prepared to work around the clock to keep Kentucky roads safe," Brown said.

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