Road Crews, Emergency Officials Working As Arctic Blast Approaches
Temperatures were well below freezing this morning, but the real cold is yet to come.
"The center of the coldest air is probably still in the central states this morning, but it will be over us by tonight or tomorrow, when we're forecasting our coldest temperatures," National Weather Service (NWS) Meteorologist Tim Doyle said this morning.
Speaking in a telephone interview from the NWS office in Morristown, Doyle said Greene County can expect cloudy skies and light snow showers and flurries for the rest of the day.
The official forecast calls for snow accumulation of less than one inch, with temperatures topping out at 20 degrees before falling slowly throughout the day as wind picks up.
Wind chill readings, Doyle said, could be as low as 10 degrees below zero today.
Tonight, light snow flurries are expected to accompany wind chills as low as 15 degrees below zero.
For Tuesday, NWS predicts mostly sunny skies with highs from 14 to 17 degrees and wind chills ranging from 5 to 15 degrees below zero in the morning, with winds decreasing in the afternoon.
Tuesday night, skies are expected to be clear with a low temperature around 8 degrees.
Doyle said an upper-level, low pressure area originating in the central and eastern parts of Canada is responsible for the frigid temperatures.
"The wind flow is pretty much from central Canada, and it's moving southeast directly into our area, so it's bringing that cold air from Canada into the area," Doyle said.
He added that people should "bundle up" in anticipation of the bitter cold that accompanies the wind chill predictions, and be mindful of the potential for slick spots on the roadways.
STAY OFF ROADS
Although the streets, roads, and highways are mostly clear this morning, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is urging everyone to stay off the roadways as much as possible through Tuesday, according to Community Relations Officer Mark Nagi.
"We're stressing to people that, if they don't have to be on the roadways for the next 24 to 48 hours or so, to stay put, because there will be patches of snow and ice on roadways in East Tennessee," he said.
TDOT crews worked from Sunday evening and into the early morning hours of today, using salt, brine and even calcium chloride to battle the frozen roadways since temperatures are below 25 degrees.
Travelers should continue to use caution in case of any additional precipitation, he added.
Greene County Road Superintendent David Weems said the county's Road Department is laying salt and block dust (a type of fine gravel) onto the roads because of the extreme cold temperatures.
He said that crews worked from the early morning hours and encountered a few spots of black ice. Conditions seem to be a little worse on the northern end of the county, he reported.
Crews will continue working on the notoriously dangerous spots in the county, such as areas shadowed by bluffs, Viking Mountain Road and Paint Creek Road, Weems said.
Greeneville Public Works Director Brad Peters said crews have put down salt on town streets to address some slick places and will "play it by ear" to see if any additional treatment is necessary.
WATER LINES BREAK
Road and street crews weren't the only ones keeping busy this morning. The Greeneville Water Department was in the process of finishing repairs on two water line breaks believed to have been caused by the cold weather.
At approximately 9 a.m., a crew was finishing repairs on a two-inch water-line break on West Grove Street, near Tusculum Boulevard.
At the same time, another crew was working a two-inch water-line break on South Main Street, near Christ United Methodist Church.
Repairs on that water line were expected to be complete by mid-day.
These breaks followed approximately five others in various parts of town during the weekend, a Water Department spokesman said.
PRECAUTIONS FOR COLD
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends leaving faucets dripping during such extreme cold temperatures to help prevent pipes from freezing.
Other recommendations include covering windows and doorways if the home's heat source does not require ventilation, and keeping pets inside the home. (Please see related story, A-5.)
SHELTER MAY OPEN
Bill Brown, Greene County Emergency Management director, said this morning that an emergency shelter could be opened on an as-needed basis at Hal Henard Elementary School.
"We would open if we have a power outage or that sort of thing," Brown said. "No decision has been made to do that yet."
The Greene County Emergency Operations Center was "partially activated" this morning, Brown said. The state Emergency Operations Center in Nashville has been activated as the wave of frigid weather envelops the region, he added.
Weather-related power outages or water main breaks that cut off the water supply to the community could prompt the opening of a local emergency shelter, Brown said.
"We've got all our people on standby in the event something does (happen)," Brown said.
Local law enforcement officers will be on the lookout for individuals in distress, said Assistant Chief Craig Fillers, of the Greeneville Police Department.
"There is nothing special going on. We're just trying to get (officers) to protect themselves and stay warm," Fillers said.
TEMPS WILL RISE
The NWS expects the mercury to climb later in the week.
Wednesday, the high temperature is expected to be in the upper 30s in the afternoon. Overnight lows are expected to be in the lower 20s.
Warmer temperatures are predicted for Thursday, Friday and the weekend.
Thursday, the high temperature is expected to be in the lower 40s.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday are expected to have high temperatures in the low 50s.
-- Sun Staff Writers Ken Little, Kristen Buckles and Sarah R. Gregory contributed to this report.