Wrath of 'Kahn': Tennessee declares state of emergency due to icy conditions
By Joel Davis | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Although ice was beginning to melt in Middle Tennessee by midmorning on Friday, Tennessee Emergency Management Spokesman Jeremy Heidt said the state Highway Patrol was working 20 separate wrecks in the Clarksville area.
Heidt said there are also multiple wrecks in East Tennessee due to ice on the roads. State officials are working with Kentucky to try to stop motorists from traveling into the areas of Tennessee that are the most icy or congested from earlier wrecks.
Earlier, the Tennessee Department of Transportation smartway system had reported 69 ice/snow covered highways and two extremely hazardous highways. The Tennessee Departments of Safety and Transportation are working with county first responders to clear wrecks and check on motorists. For highway emergencies, motorists should call *THP (*847) via mobile phone to be connected to the THP Headquarters nearest their location.
Meanwhile, the Transportation Department was salting roads to try to melt the ice.
The National Weather Service has issued an ice storm warning for Blount County, which will remain in effect until 7 p.m. Friday night.
The freezing rain advisory is no longer in effect. During a warning, severe weather conditions have already begun or will begin within 24 hours and people should immediately take precautions.
At noon, Highway Superintendent Bill Dunlap said motorists need to be very careful of shaded areas because of the threat of lurking slick spots. “Where we treated, the ice is melting. Still, the rain is melting most of it right now. You’ve still got some slick spots out. Anybody that goes out needs to be careful.”
Saturday morning may post challenges, too, as nighttime temperatures will be below freezing, Dunlap said. “We’re working it through the day. 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 American Red Cross has opened a shelter at 1741 Triangle Park Drive, Maryville, that will be available to stranded motorists and local residents who have lost power. It currently has a total of seven emergency shelters available in five counties: Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Jefferson and Knox Counties.
As of noon, there was no population reported in any of its locations. The Red Cross recommends that people consider coming to a shelter only if conditions are safe to travel and if they are unable to heat their home due to a power outage.
Freezing rain, possibly mixed with sleet, will spread over the region from the southwest. Ice accumulations between one-quarter and one-half inch will be possible.
So far, according to Blount County E911 dispatch, a Tennessee Department of Transportation salt truck turned over on East Lamar Alexander Parkway across the street from Rocky Branch Road this morning. A Blount County Sheriff’s Office cruiser hit a wall while trying to respond to that wreck, but the deputy was not injured. Otherwise, there have been some reports of vehicles sliding off roadways.
Precipitation will begin to move across the Cumberland Plateau and southeast Tennessee and will spread over the entire region. The precipitation will taper off in general by Friday evening.
Icy conditions will create hazardous driving conditions. Accumulating ice may also pull drown trees and power lines in some areas, mainly in sheltered valleys where the freezing rain may linger a bit longer.
An ice storm warning means severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring. Significant amounts of ice accumulations are expected, which will likely lead to downed power lines and falling tree branches. It will also make travel very hazardous or impossible. Travel is strongly discouraged. If travel is unavoidable, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.
All Blount County and city of Alcoa offices are closed today due to the inclement weather.
Maryville Municipal Building will open at noon.