Crews Prepare For Snow Storm; 5-10 Inches Forecast
BY O.J. EARLY
Winter-weary Greene County may see its biggest snow in a decade, as Winter Storm Pax slams into East Tennessee.
"The snow will start this morning for Greene County and intensify this afternoon," said Derek Eisentrout, a Morristown-based National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist.
"We are looking at possible totals in Greene County of five-to-10 inches."
The looming winter blast prompted the NWS to issue a winter storm warning, in effect for Greene County from 1 p.m. today through 7 a.m. Thursday.
"Don't travel if you don't have to. If you have to travel, take an emergency kit with you. Use caution," Eisentrout said. "It is going to be a very significant snowfall across the area."
Road crews are ready for a potential winter storm, local officials confirmed Tuesday afternoon.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) treated many state roadways Tuesday, including in Greene County, TDOT spokesman Mark Nagi said.
"We will have crews on all ... state routes if the precipitation comes," Nagi said. "Crews will stay on their routes as long as necessary."
Crews from both the Greene County Highway Department and the Greeneville Public Works Department will begin salting local roads when snow starts falling, officials with both departments said.
"We expect to be out grading and salting if we get this snow," Road Superintendent David Weems said.
The highway department will work around-the-clock to clear roadways, focusing on the county's most highly-traveled points, Weems said.
But he urged local residents not to travel.
"Once the snow starts, try and get home as soon as possible and stay home," Weems said. "It's safer for the residents, and also for us as we are out working."
Both the county and the town departments expect to have enough salt to treat local roads for this winter storm, officials said. Salting local roads could become more difficult if another winter storm strikes the area.
"We should be in good shape for this storm," Greeneville Public Works Director Brad Peters said. "But we're running low."
Local law enforcement agencies are closely monitoring the weather situation, Sheriff Steve Burns said this morning.
"We'll transition into our four-wheel-drive vehicles if it starts snowing and getting slick," Burns said.
He said the public should heed warnings about the impending storm.
"We just hope that, with advance notice, everyone will make preparations themselves," he said.
Sheriff's deputies will prioritize calls if numerous wrecks occur.
"If they were to go off in a ditch and there's no injuries, just get out of the vehicle and (deputies will respond)," Burns said.
Winter Storm Pax was dropping accumulating snow and ice across much of the South this morning, the NWS reported. The storm was expected to be crippling for much of the Southeast today, potentially cutting off electric power for thousands of people, the NWS said.
In Greeneville, today's temperature high is forecast to be 34 with a low of 27. Snow was expected to end by Thursday afternoon, according to NWS reports.
The last time Greene County received more than five inches of snow was in February 2004, when more than six inches of snow fell.
Greene County Emergency Management Agency Director Bill Brown said county residents who need shelter from the storm can go to the Opportunity House, located at on Irish Street.
"If the need arises, I will open up a larger shelter," Brown said. "I will be monitoring the situation."
The potential winter storm closed both the Greene County School System and the Greeneville City School System today.
Staff Writer Ken Little contributed to this article.