The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency has declared a state of emergency.
“Due to ice and wrecks, TEMA has gone to a level 3 activation and a state of emergency is in effect as of 9 a.m. this morning,” according to a statewide release from TEMA spokesman Dean Flener.
Most of the trouble is in the Knoxville area and along the Interstate 40 corridor, he said, with I-40 receiving heavy freezing rain. But Interstate 24 is also a trouble spot, especially in Montgomery County where 20 motor accidents had been reported.
TEMA officials said the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Smartway system reports six roadway incidents and 69 ice/snow-covered highways and two extremely hazardous highways.
“[I-24] is a sheet of ice ... Kentucky has been alerted to warn drivers heading south about the icy conditions,” according to the TEMA statement.
Officials said icing continues to move into East Tennessee and forecasters have increased the predicted ice accumulations to as much as a half-inch.
Icy conditions will be prevalent in the higher elevations and on the Cumberland Plateau.
Flener said TEMA cannot declare regional states of emergency, but statewide declarations such as the one today are fairly common.
“That allows us to bring people in here and be prepared to respond if a county needs help,” he said. “It also gives us the legal authority to make decisions to act.”
TEMA officials said there now are seven emergency shelters open in parts of East Tennessee. There is no one in those shelters yet.
Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...