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Winter storm leads to pileup involving up to 75 vehicles on Interstate 64 in Kentucky

The interstate was closed Thursday afternoon "due to 50-75 vehicles wrecked or immovable," the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office said.

A massive pileup involving up to 75 vehicles blocked Interstate 64 in Kentucky for hours Thursday as the region was battered by a winter storm, officials said.

As the cold blast hit in the afternoon, police received calls about vehicles "off the roadway" in Montgomery County in the eastern part of the state, Montgomery County Sheriff David Charles said in a news release.

At 12:54 p.m., I-64 was closed from exit 101 and exit 110 “due to 50-75 vehicles wrecked or immovable," the sheriff's office said.

One eastbound lane opened at about 5:30 p.m. and westbound lanes opened at 8:35 p.m. — nearly seven hours after the highway was initially closed. 

In an update at about 12:25 a.m. Friday, officials said there were delays on the roads and officers were distributing water and fuel to those in need.

He urged motorists to avoid roadways due to “multiple wrecks” across the county.

In a tweet, Kentucky State Police also said I-64 was closed at mile marker 179 “due to a tractor trailer jack knifed.” Several other highways in the area “are solid ICE," state troopers said in another tweet.

The chaos in Kentucky comes after the I-95 shutdown in Virginia on Monday that left drivers stranded in their cars for hours due to a big-rig accident and treacherous road conditions from the first mid-Atlantic snowstorm of the year. The interstate finally reopened after nearly 30 hours.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency Thursday following heavy snowfall and frigid temperatures. He deployed the Kentucky National Guard to assist state police and the state’s transportation cabinet. 

As of Friday morning, all roads are open except for I-75 in Whitley County, but conditions remain hazardous, Beshear said. 

"Please stay off roadways today if at all possible," he tweeted.

Overall, three to nine inches of snow was reported around the state, according to the National Weather Service, with Lexington reporting 9.9 inches of snowfall.