Don’t fret. Forecasters are not predicting any hurricanes in the region.
Still, a more active tropical season has the potential to generate rough weather for East Tennessee.
This month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that conditions are favorable for above-normal hurricane activity through October. Only a few named storms have formed in the Atlantic this year, although meteorologists regard September as peak hurricane season. (See related story, this page.)
“While hurricanes do not pose a direct threat to Tennessee because it does not have an ocean coastline, any storm that moves through the area could bring tropical rainfall with it,” said the NOAA’s Lauren Gaches. “Flooding from heavy rains is the second leading cause of fatalities from landfalling tropical cyclones. Widespread torrential rains associated with these storms often cause flooding hundreds of miles inland. This flooding can persist for several days after a storm has dissipated.”
There’s a history of hurricane remnants causing issues within the county.
In 2015, Hurricane Joaquin funneled moisture throughout the Southern Appalachian Mountains that triggered flood watches and rising creeks and streams. In 2012, what was left of Hurricane Sandy dumped several inches of rain on the county.
Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 storm that so far ranks as one of the deadliest weather disasters this century, caused a tornado watch, severe thunderstorms and heavy rain in Greeneville.
Just over the state line in western North Carolina, 2004 storms produced from two different hurricanes destroyed nearly 150 homes and claimed 11 lives. While most of Greene County escaped significant flooding, a rising Nolichucky River left its mark. High waters carried away a sand-dredging barge owned by Vulcan Materials Company, and the parking area around Birds Bridge was completely underwater.
The NOAA’s report is notable in part because forecasters have upped the likelihood of an above-average Atlantic hurricane season to 45%. In May, it stood at 30%.
In Greene County, it has been a particularly rainy year, with the local UT AgResearch and Education Center reporting more than 30 inches of precipitation since Jan. 1. Earlier this month, the National Weather Service reported that 2019 is already the third wettest year on record in northeast Tennessee.
Reflecting on hurricane activity affecting eastern Tennessee, National Weather Service meteorologist Lyle Wilson said in 2016 that “obviously, the more storms you have, the more of a chance that something could come up this way.”
“You can have an active season and the tracts of storms can either keep them out to sea or bring them in from different areas that don’t really affect us,” he said. “Once in a great while you can get one that holds together and we see some wind, but the most significant impact you often see is heavy rain. It can also, of course, cause flooding.”
Thirteen School Resource Officers met Friday for training at the Glenwood Education Center to improve their skills and learn more about innovative new programs that are being implemented at county schools.
The training sessions are valuable for the officers, said sheriff's Lt. Teddy Lawing, SRO program supervisor in county schools.
“We do something every month,” Lawing said.
The SROs received information about the L.E.A.D. program implemented by Sheriff Wesley Holt. It will be introduced to students the first week of September.
L.E.A.D. stands for Law Enforcement Against Drugs. In Greene County Schools, the program is geared toward fifth-graders.
Law Enforcement Against Drugs is similar to the old Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, known as D.A.R.E.
Lawing said that SROs will work with fifth grade teachers at county schools and outline what they will present to students, who will receive workbooks to follow along wth the program.
Holt recently said it’s important to communicate facts about drug abuse to young students before they are placed in vulnerable situations by their peers.
“We’ve got to get something in their young minds to try and curtail it, to get it stopped,” he said.
County schools will also implement the “Raptor” identification system in September.
Raptor school security technology helps school staff screen for registered sex offenders, manage custody issues, coordinate volunteers, and respond to emergencies.
More than 28,000 school campuses across the country use Raptor school safety technology.
Raptor is capable of using visual identification tools to provide staff with a listing of everyone in a school at any given time, including contractors and other visitors.
Dr. Cindy Bowman, former principal of South Greene High School, is school system high school supervisor and liaison to the SRO program. Bowman attended the training session and said Raptor is a valuable safety tool.
“It’s an easier, more protective and secure (means of identification) for folks who come into the building,” she said.
Raptor uses visual recognition technology to match up faces on driver’s licenses in the system with anyone inside a county school. It’s already in use in Johnson City, Kingsport and Sullivan County schools, Bowman said.
If a name given by someone inside the school does not match the face on the driver’s license, “We will know something is up,” Bowman said.
“It’s a very good system. It has a lot of things it can do for safety,” she said. “Putting the kids’ safety first is already a priority at the schools. It protects our kids and it protects our teachers.”
The vaping problem among students at county schools was also discussed. Lawing said county schools currently have separate vaping and tobacco policies.
“The school system is going to put the two together as one,” Lawing said.
Under the “Second Chance Tobacco Program,” any student caught on first offense vaping or using tobacco on a first offense must complete online training and get a certificate. Lawing explained how the policy will work.
Disciplinary measures for second-time offenders an other aspect of county schools policy were outlined to SROs.
Two SROs, program second-in-charge Sgt. Travis Hoxie and Deputy Carson Becker, attended a Narcan refresher training session in Johnson City and shared what they learned.
Narcan is an antidote for an opioid overdose.
Lawing said the first Parent Academy will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17 at South Greene High School. One of the topics will about social media and protecting children.
Future parent academies will be scheduled at other county schools in the months to come, Lawing said.
There are currently SROs assigned to the four county high schools, in addition to Mosheim Middle School, Camp Creek Elementary School, McDonald Elementary School, Mosheim Elementary School, Nolachuckey Elementary School, Ottway Elementary School and the Glenwood Education Center that houses students formerly at the Howard McNeese Education Center.
One SRO could not attend Friday. Four more officers are in training and should be assigned to county schools by year’s end, making a total of 18 trained school resource officers in service.
The new SROs will be assigned to Chuckey-Doak Middle School, Doak Elementary School, Ottway Elementary School and Debusk Elementary School.
The full SRO compliment will allow for standby officers to fill in for others off duty or on vacation, Lawing said.
Bowman said working with the SROs has been “a great experience.”
“For me as a (former) principal, it’s like having another administrator in the school with me. They establish a relationship with the kids and we work together as a team,” she said. “It’s just great to have that extra help.
Kenneth Bailey Jr., General Sessions and Juvenile courts judge, also addressed the SROs at the training session about the workings of Juvenile Court and other court-related topics. Bailey is another supporter of the school resource officer concept.
“It’s fantastic. It’s great security for the schools and it helps build relationships between the kids and law enforcement that will pay off for years to come,” Bailey said.
New SROs like Deputy Peter Wellman, who came to Greene County with law enforcement experience in Virginia and Arizona, enjoy their work. Wellman is SRO at Glenwood Educational Center.
Wellman enjoys interacting with students and said he can find common ground quickly by talking about video games, a favorite topic among young people.
“They are a breakthrough. If you can form a bond with a kid, they will start talking to you about (things like) family,” Wellman said.
Wellman enjoys coaching sports and helping students succeed, so he is well suited to the duties of a school resource officer.
“That’s the whole point. You don’t want to see someone start out their lives the wrong way,” Wellman said.
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center upgraded Hurricane Dorian to a Category 3 storm late Friday, and meteorologists warn that the storm could become a devastating Category 4 when it collides with the Florida coast on Labor Day.
As of Friday, meteorologists did not anticipate that one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit Florida’s east coast in decades would affect eastern Tennessee. But the potentially monster storm – and the back-and-forth nature of the hurricane’s forecasted path – demonstrates the complexity of predicting a hurricane’s effects this far inland.
“While some events are very well forecast by weather models, there are limits to the predictability,” said the National Weather Service’s Cindy Elsenheimer. “In the case of what affects a hurricane’s track, the steering flow for these systems are large scale ridges and troughs in the middle part of the atmosphere, and sometimes hundreds of miles away from the storm.”
Consider the predictions on Friday.
A range of European and British weather models showed Dorian churning toward South Florida. U.S. projections, including from The Weather Channel, predicted Dorian tracking through Central Florida.
Newspaper headlines, including the South Florida Sun Sentinel’s “But Where Will It Hit,” illustrated the disparity in forecasts.
“For both inland areas and coastal areas when the path changes so do the weather impacts like heavy rainfall,” Elsenheimer said. “With better computer modeling and research done by NOAA, the track forecasts issued by the National Hurricane Center have been increasingly accurate in the recent history.”
For now, meteorologists foresee beautiful weather in Greeneville next week as much of the southeastern U.S. endures the potential for floods, severe storms and heavy rain.
Monday’s temperature high is expected to be 88, while Tuesday’s peak is 91. Lots of sunshine with little rain is also in the forecast.
Newly elected 1st Ward Alderman Cal Doty will be administered the oath of office at Tuesday’s Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting.
Aldermen will meet at 4 p.m. in the G. Thomas Love Boardroom at the Greeneville Light & Power System office on College Street.
Oaths of office will be administered to Doty and fellow 1st Ward Alderman Buddy Hawk and at-large Greeneville Water Commissioner Johnny Honeycutt. All three were elected to their respective posts in the Greeneville Municipal Election on Aug. 1.
Doty will be serving in his first public office, and Hawk will begin his sixth term as alderman. Honeycutt has served on the water commission since 2007.
Also on the agenda is authorization for the mayor to sign a contract for the Local Historic District Survey Project Grant, subject to final approval by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Tennessee Historical Commission.
The town received word in July that a $20,000 Federal Historic Preservation Fund grant has been awarded. The matching grant includes $12,000 in federal funds with a local contribution of $8,000.
A public hearing will also be held to receive comments regarding the Town’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System, or MS4, Annual Report for fiscal year 2018-2019.
In addition, the board will consider a purchase of vehicles and equipment for the Greeneville Police Department, a proposal to supply pharmaceuticals to an employee clinic and an appointment to the Roby Adult Center Advisory Board.
A special event and special event sign request will also be considered.