Ice storm cometh: Kahn’s icy dish
From Staff Reports
Blount Memorial Hospital treated 15 weather-related injuries in a winter storm Friday that coated Blount County roads and walkways with a layer of ice.
A hospital spokesman said 14 injuries were from falling on ice and one was from a vehicle accident.
The winter storm — tagged “Kahn” by The Weather Channel — prompted Tennessee to declare a state of emergency as the eastern portion of the state saw significant icing.
National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Sam Roberts said Blount County recorded three-tenths of an inch of ice.
The NWS issued an ice storm warning for Blount County which expired at 7 p.m. Friday. Only isolated power outages were reported as warming temperatures melted the ice Friday afternoon.
The closing of all the school systems, along with government offices and many businesses in the county, kept Friday traffic light and helped keep the number of traffic accidents down. Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp said his department was fortunate not to have had any wrecks in the city.
“People, I think, chose to stay at home because our traffic volume was low, which is indicative that a lot of people chose to stay off the road,” Crisp said just after 5 p.m., typically the peak of rush-hour traffic. “Even right now we have what we would consider light traffic for a Friday afternoon. Even this morning was extremely light.”
Between midnight Thursday and around 5 p.m. Friday, law enforcement across the county worked a total of 17 wrecks, only four of which involved injuries.
On Friday morning, according to Blount County E911 dispatch, a Tennessee Department of Transportation salt truck overturned on East Lamar Alexander Parkway across the street from Rocky Branch Road.
A Blount County Sheriff’s Office cruiser hit a wall while trying to respond to the wreck, but the deputy was not injured.
There were also some reports of vehicles sliding off roadways.
Starting Thursday and continuing Friday, city, county and state road crews salted roads to try to get ahead of the ice. Highway Superintendent Bill Dunlap on Friday said local motorists needed to be very careful of shaded areas because of the threat of lurking slick spots.
He added that this morning may post challenges, too, as nighttime temperatures would fall below freezing.
“We’re working it through the day,” he said. “We’ll get everything we can with salt and chat on them. We’ll come in (Saturday morning) and address any problems we have.”
Dunlap had some advice for drivers. Don’t. “Everybody just stay home and enjoy it. It will make what we’ve got to a whole lot easier and safer.”
The NWS forecast expects today to be mostly sunny with a high near 44 degrees, while tonight is to be partly cloudy with a low around 27 degrees. Sunday afternoon will bring a 20 percent chance of rain with a high near 52 degrees. Increasing cloud cover and a low near 35 is likely Sunday night.
Few power outages
Late Friday afternoon, the Maryville Electric Department reported no outages, the Alcoa Electric reported isolated outages in the Carpenters, the Cold Springs and Deer Run areas, and Fort Loudoun Electric Cooperative reported just four.
The American Red Cross Friday afternoon closed a shelter for stranded motorists and residents that it had opened at its Blount County headquarters at The 1741 Triangle Park Drive. No one came to the shelter.
With the freezing rain having moved out of the area and power outages not as severe as expected, there appeared to be no need to keep the shelter open, officials said.
Conditions at McGhee Tyson Airport were closely monitored, but airport officials said Friday they were “not too bad.”
Trevis Gardner, vice president of operations for Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority, said no ice or snow accumulated and aircraft were de-icing.
He said there had been a flight from Atlanta canceled and Delta had canceled a flight from Detroit. The airport is posting updates about airport conditions online at https://twitter.com/TrevisGardner.
In Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Newfound Gap Road, Little River Road, Laurel Creek Road and many other park roads are closed due to snow and ice. The GSMNP road conditions line is 865- 436-1200.
Daily Times reporters Wes Wade and Joel Davis contributed to this story.