'Jonas' snow shuts down milk hauling in Appalachia

Winter Storm Jonas placed heavy snowfall totals across the Mid-Atlantic states Friday and Saturday, shutting down milk hauling routes, collapsing barns, and freezing equipment to give dairies all they could handle despite knowing about the pending storm.

Snowfall totals hit over a foot in many places throughout the region, with the Kentucky-Tennessee border feeling the first impact during the day Friday.

"About 8 o'clock in the morning yesterday, maybe earlier, they started getting some freezing rain," explained Maury Cox, executive director of the Kentucky Dairy Development Council, over the phone Saturday afternoon. "It converted over to ice, and then about 9 a.m. it started snowing and they got about 18 inches altogether."

Cox said the southern portion of his state consists of mostly freestall or compost-bedded pack barns. Generally speaking, animals and barns were okay, but milk trucks and plants were slow or stopped in their normal pickup and delivery. Cox reported that at least one barn collapsed under the heavy snow.

As of Saturday afternoon, Kentucky farmers were able to clear driveways and yards, but county and state roads had not been cleared, making it difficult for milk trucks to move and forcing many farms to dump milk.

"They were ready for the storm, but the ice came," Cox said. "They wrecked a salt truck or two in Adair County, as they kept ending up in people's yards or the ditch, so they gave up Friday evening."

Cox said he has been discussing the situation with the governor's agricultural policy office and the Kentucky Transportation Secretary to get help to clear roads faster. Milk plants owned by Borden's and Prairie Farms are in the region, he said.

Cox also noted that there is a large Amish population of dairies in Western Kentucky that felt effects from the storm. In Humboldt, Tennessee, the Bongards Creameries plant - normally an everyday operation - shut down for the weekend to avoid workers shuttling to and from the plant in potentially hazardous road conditions, the company told Dairy Herd Management.

Nine people have died in traffic accidents, reported The Wall Street Journal, in the far-reaching storm. About 270,000 people lost power along the coast, mostly in North Carolina.

Below: A freestall barn collapsed at the Bruce and Dan Held Farm, Adair County, Ky.

Over a foot of snow is expected in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. Allentown, Penn., Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia, and Booneville, Ky., all saw over 20 inches of snow, reported the Weather Channel. Snow was continuing to fall in Pennsylvania and the eastern parts of the region Saturday afternoon.

Cox said cold temperatures were expected again Saturday night, adding to the risks going forward.

UPDATE: Monday morning -

The storm continued over the weekend in the eastern portion of the Mid-Atlantic states, dumping a record amount of snow in several places, including over two feet in much of Maryland and southern Pennsyvlania.

Reader Joyce Alban, of Alban Farms, Manchester, Md., shared the below picture from their 88-head farm's freestall barn. When Joyce sent this Saturday, the were waiting for the milk truck as it needed to arrive by morning to prevent dumping.

If you're affected by the heavy snow and ice from Winter Storm Jonas, share your story in comments or email updates and pictures to lsjostrom@farmjournal.com.

 
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