Region Still Dealing With Very Cold Air; Temps May Climb Above Freezing Today
Frigid weather that has pummeled the county since Monday will be replaced by more normal winter temperatures by week's end.
But the bone-chilling cold has left its mark.
Several water-line breaks, thousands of people temporarily without electric power and dozens of slick side-roads followed an arctic blast that struck the county at the start of the week.
Temperatures dipped as low as 5 below zero over the last two days, and haven't exceeded the mid-teens since Monday morning.
While Tuesday night saw some record lows in the Tri-City area, this morning's low of 5 degrees is not remarkable, according to the National Weather Service in Morristown.
Today's clear skies will become overcast by tomorrow afternoon, with highs in the low-to-mid-30s, according to NWS Meteorologist Jessica Winton.
Precipitation should hold off until late Thursday or early Friday morning, Winton said.
The weekend forecast, although rainy through Monday, features highs near 60 degrees and lows close to 40 degrees, she added.
"It'll be fairly nice," Winton summed up.
Crews from the Greeneville Water Department have been busy since Monda, repairing multiple water-line problems, including an 8-inch break on Bernard Avenue Tuesday.
Another break happened early this morning, when a 6-inch line broke on East Church Street at the Bernard Avenue intersection.
Work at that site, which was different from the site of Tuesday's break, was expected to end by noon today, Water Superintendent Laura White said.
Despite warming temperatures, crews may still be busy.
"A lot of times, when it warms up, you could see even more breaks," said White. "When the ground thaws out, it expands. If anyone sees a break, we ask them to report it as soon as they see it."
After the below-zero temperatures help set a record Tuesday for power demand, the Greeneville Light & Power System (GL&PS) saw demand far-above winter averages this morning, according to GL&PS General Manager Bill Carroll.
Tuesday morning's demand was at 304 megawatts, Carroll said, while today's peak was 284. Most winter mornings, demand is at 230-240 megawatts, he said.
"We would have been using one-fourth the power of a nuclear power plant," Carroll said of Tuesday's demand.
"We have a system built for days like Tuesday. Our models had predicted at zero degrees we would hit 305 megawatts. At minus 2, we hit 304."
The Tennessee Vally Authority (TVA) had asked local utilities and large industrial customers to cut back on their power usage Tuesday.
The Associated Press reported that TVA hit its second-highest winter-demand ever on Tuesday at 8 a.m.
Carroll said GL&PS offices separated from the main power grid serving the utility's customers and ran on backup generators for a few hours.
Meanwhile, about five industrial GL&PS customers had to reduce their demand at the peak time to help with the grid's overall load, Carroll said.
Carroll said no incidents overnight into this morning caused power outages for GL&PS customers.
After the cold weather caused about 2,000 GL&PS residential customers to lose power early yesterday morning, all those customers got their power back by mid-day.
Most of the problems were caused by aluminum conductors contracting in the frigid cold and pulling away from connections, Carroll said.
He praised GL&PS crews for restoring power as quickly as they could under such cold conditions.
"The guys performed admirably," he said.
A shelter opened at the Nathanael Greene Museum, and four people stayed there overnight, a volunteer said.
Greene County Emergency Management Director Bill Brown said yesterday the shelter would open to ensure those who didn't have anywhere to take refuge from the cold would have somewhere to go.
A shelter had previously been open at Hal Henard Elementary Monday night.
SCHOOLS REACT TO WEATHER
Greene County Schools were still closed today due to the cold weather and icy patches on local roads.
County schools had been scheduled to re-open after Christmas break Tuesday, but the wintry blast forced officials to close.
Greeneville City Schools were open today after closing Tuesday and Monday, when students were supposed to resume after their Christmas break.
Contributing to this report: Assistant Managing Editor Michael S. Reneau and Staff Writers Kristen Buckles and O.J. Early.