Icy Conditions Pose Problems For Motorists; More Cold Weather, Precipitation Are On The Way
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES AND KEN LITTLE
The forecast may not be Arctic, but it sure sounds cold.
This morning's pleasant temperatures ranging in the mid-40s gave a deceptive start to the day.
Black ice on some area roads caused a number of wrecks this morning, authorities said.
Crashes were reported beginning about 5:30 a.m. on Middle Creek Road, Greystone Road, West Allens Bridge Road and Charles Johnson Road, according to sheriff's deputies and 911 Dispatch.
Middle Creek Road was particularly treacherous, according to Lt. Phillip Mullett with the Tusculum Volunteer Fire Department.
Mullett said firefighters were called out to the 1300 block of Middle Creek, near Chestnut Ridge, to find three vehicles off the road, one of which was on its top in the creek, and a fourth vehicle in the ditch.
"The road was just a solid sheet of ice," he said.
As firefighters responded to the scene, a Northeast Tennessee Rural Transportation (NET Trans) vehicle slid to a stop before it started to slide sideways down the embankment and into the creek, Mullett said.
No passengers were in the van, and there were no injuries reported, he added.
Greene County Road Superintendent David Weems said salt trucks have been out since around that time this morning. He said he has received reports of numerous wrecks, with black ice "from Poplar Springs all the way over into Greystone."
Caution is advised today as weather conditions continue to change for the worse, authorities said.
Numerous minor wrecks were reported during the snowburst late Saturday morning and early afternoon.
Roads were "pretty slick" throughout Greene County until the sun came out Saturday afternoon, a 911 dispatcher said.
Greeneville police reported multiple minor wrecks Saturday morning.
"They were running off the road," Capt. Tim Ward said.
After warmer temperatures on Sunday cleared most areas, Greene County Director of Schools Dr. Vicki Kirk announced that schools would be on a regular schedule today, but by this morning the county schools had been closed "due to rapidly changing weather."
"It's a very powerful cold front. Temperatures are going to fall dramatically throughout the day today," said Meteorologist Shawn O'Neill.
O'Neill, of the National Weather Service (NWS) in Morristown, noted that the NWS issued a wind chill advisory for overnight tonight.
Temperatures in the low-20s expected by this afternoon will continue to drop, O'Neill added.
A freezing rain advisory was also issued for the county for two hours this morning.
The NWS expected a "a band of light snowfall" today, with no significant accumulations because the system was moving through so quickly.
Overnight lows in Greeneville will be close to 10 degrees, he said.
Outlying areas will experience overnight lows in the single digits, with windchills close to zero.
In the mountains, that temperature could fall closer to minus-16 degrees, he said.
"After that cold start, the high temperatures [on Tuesday] are only going to rise to the low-20s," O'Neill said. "The windchills will be very cold."
There may also be some light snow in the mountains on Tuesday, he said.
As a result, the Greene County Office of Emergency Management will open a shelter at the Opportunity House, 203 N. Irish St.
The shelter opened this morning, Emergency Management Director Bill Brown said.
If the Opportunity House fills up, another shelter will be opened in Greeneville, Brown said.
For information, call the county Emergency Management office at 798-1729 or the Opportunity House at 638-4099.
Pet-owners are reminded to provide warm, insulated shelter with clean, dry bedding, such as cedar chips.
COLD WEATHER TIPS
The following cold-weather safety tips, provided by Greeneville Fire Department Administrative Capt. Marty Shelton, were published earlier this month but are being repeated today:
* Closely monitor local news reports for updates on weather forecasts and storm impacts.
* Have a well-stocked winter home emergency supply kit that includes flashlights, a portable radio, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable food and a manual can opener.
* The elderly and very young should minimize outside activities. Remember to consider your pets.
* Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, rather than a single layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water-repellent. Wear a hat, mittens and sturdy waterproof boots, protecting your extremities. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
* Excessive exposure can lead to frostbite, which is damaging to body tissue that is frozen. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes or the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, seek medical help immediately.
* Hypothermia can occur in extreme cases. The warning signs are uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If the person's temperature drops below 95 degrees, seek immediate medical care.
* Ensure there is a sufficient supply of heating fuel, in addition to emergency heating equipment, in the event of an electricity outage.
* When utilizing alternate heating sources such as a fireplace, wood stove or space heater, take the necessary safety precautions. Keep a fire extinguisher handy and make sure everyone in the home knows how to use it properly. Test smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors.
* If using an emergency generator, read, understand and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Always operate emergency generators outdoors and away from any open window.
Make sure the generator is properly installed and grounded, as the owner may be liable for damage or injury to other people and property that may result from improperly-installed or -operated equipment.
* Never use propane or charcoal grills indoors, as they pose Carbon Monoxide (CO) and fire risks.
* Clear exhaust vents from direct-vent gas furnace systems to avoid Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning. Also, never start an automobile until the exhaust pipe has been cleared of snow.
* If you lose your heat, seal off unused rooms by stuffing towels in the cracks under the doors. At night, cover windows with extra blankets or sheets.
* Be a good neighbor. Check with elderly or relatives and friends who may need additional assistance to ensure their safety.
* To keep pipes from freezing, wrap them in insulation or layers of newspapers, covering the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture. Allow a trickle of warm water to run from a faucet that is farthest from your water meter or one that has frozen in the past. This will keep the water moving so that it cannot freeze. Learn how to shut off your water if a pipe bursts.
* If pipes freeze, remove insulation, completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes or wrap them with towels soaked in hot water, starting where they are most exposed to the cold. A hand-held hair dryer, used with caution, also works well.
* If there is medical equipment in the house that requires electricity, talk to your health care provider about how to prepare for equipment use during a power outage. Keep a supply of extra batteries for medical equipment and assistive devices.
* If you have life-support devices that depend on electricity, contact your local electric company about your power needs for life-support devices (home dialysis, suction, breathing machines, etc.) in advance of an emergency. Some utility companies will place those with life-support devices on a "priority reconnection service" list.
Talk to your equipment suppliers about your power options and also let your local fire department know that you are dependent on life-support devices.
* Make sure cars are properly winterized. Keep the gas tank at least half-full. Carry a winter emergency car kit in the trunk including blankets, extra clothing, flashlight with spare batteries, a can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water, non-perishable foods, a windshield scraper, shovel, sand, tow rope and jumper cables.