published Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

LIVE snow updates and school closings: 3-5 inches still on the way

 
Live local snow coverage
THURSDAY SCHOOL CLOSINGS

Baylor School

Bradley County

Catoosa County

Chickamauga City

Cleveland City

Dade County

Dalton City

Georgia Northwestern Technical College

Hamilton County

McCallie School

Murray County

Silverdale Baptist

Walker County

Whitfield County

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CLOSURES

Hamilton County General Sessions Courts are closed Thursday.

UTC officials will make an announcement regarding the Thursday schedule by 6 a.m. Thursday morning.

The North Georgia Health District office and Public Health Departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield counties will remain closed Thursday.

All Walker County Offices and Transit will be closed Thursday.

United Way of Greater Chattanooga will be closed on Wednesday, Feb. 12, due to severe weather conditions.

Southern Adventist University's campus will be closed and no classes held all day on Wednesday, February 12.

Due to inclement weather on Feb. 12, 2014, Memorial Health Care System will observe the following openings, closings and delays.

The Inclement Weather Policy is in effect as of February 12, 2014. Associates are expected to report to work as scheduled. Associates may call their Director for questions.

The Chattanooga Heart Institute locations - closed

Ooltewah Imaging Center - closed

Volunteer Services - closed

MarryEllen Locher Breast Center all locations - closed

Out Patient Rehab all locations - closed

Out Patient Rehab all locations - closed

Diabetes & Nutrition Center - closed

Weight Management Center - closed

Patients are encouraged to call ahead to confirm physician appointments.

Due to inclement weather on Feb. 12, 2014, Memorial Health Partner Foundation physicians will observe the following closings and delays. Patients are asked to call ahead to confirm before traveling.

Hixson Pike Medical Center - closed

North Park Family Medicine - closed

Signal Mt. Health & Wellness - opening at noon

Professional Park Associates - closed

Buz Standifer Lung Center - closed

TCFPA, Family Medical Center - closed

Delays

Chattem Inc. will delay opening until 11 a.m.

Southern Adventist University will operate on a delayed schedule:

11 a.m. -- Convocation will be held as scheduled

12 p.m. -- All Thursday classes will be held beginning at noon as scheduled through the rest of the day

1 p.m. -- Employees should report for regularly scheduled work assignments (Exceptions to 1 p.m. start time: Faculty/staff who assist with convocation, faculty who teach noon classes, and any employees determined essential by supervisor.)

SCHOOLS CLOSED TODAY

• Bradley County Schools

• Calhoun City Schools

• Catoosa County Schools

• Chattanooga State

• Chattooga County Schools

• Chickamauga City Schools

• Cleveland City Schools

• Dade County Schools

• Dalton City Schools

• Dayton City Schools

• Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s campuses

• Gordon County Schools

• Hamilton County Schools

• Jackson County, Ala., Schools

• McMinn County Schools

• Sequatchie County Schools

• UTC

• Walker County Schools

• Whitfield County Schools

For additional school and business delays and closings, visit our news partner wrcbtv.com.

SNOWFALL PREDICTIONS

• Southeast Tennessee: Winter storm warning calls for 3 to 5 inches due to start between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. today and end between 10 p.m. and midnight.

• North Georgia: Winter storm warning calls for 4 to 8 inches with up to 10 inches in northeast Georgia. At times the snow will mix with sleet and freezing rain. Temperatures will be in the upper 20s to lower 30s.

• Northeast Alabama: Winter storm warning calls for snow mixed with sleet to spread south to north across North Alabama and Middle Tennessee between 9 p.m. CST Tuesday and 3 a.m. CST today. Accumulations of 5 to 8 inches are possible east of Interstate 65.

RECORD CHATTANOOGA SNOWFALLS

• 1. 20.0 inches March 12-13, 1993 (The Big Blizzard of ‘93)

• 2. 11.0 inches March 1-2, 1927

• 3. 10.2 inches Jan. 8, 1988

• 4. 8.7 inches Feb. 13, 1960

• 5. 8.6 inches Dec. 22, 1929

• 6. 8.4 inches Jan. 29, 1966 and Jan. 10, 2011

• 7. 8.2 inches Jan. 23, 1940

Source: WRCB meteorologist Nick Austin

Poll
Are you better prepared for the snow this time?
  • photo
    Traffic backs up on southbound Interstate 75 on Tuesday from the Boynton Drive overpass in Ringgold, Ga.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
    enlarge photo

  • photo
    Kira Chappelear, left, and Bree Chappelear make a snowman Tuesday morning in Trenton.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
    enlarge photo

Snow has begun falling and sticking in downtown Chattanooga and across the region.

Parts of North Georgia are seeing another inch of snow on top of the 2-5 inches that fell on Tuesday. Further south, nearly 40,000 Georgians had lost power as of 8:30 a.m., mostly around the Atlanta area.

Temperatures in Georgia hovered around 32 and ice is accumulating across the state, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.


Previous story:

Consider Tuesday’s winter weather a boxer’s light left jab to set up the big right.

The Volunteer State ducked the first blow, but a snowy punch was predicted for this morning with several inches of accumulation in places and up to a foot in mountainous areas across the tri-state region, according to forecasters.

Hamilton County residents should brace for 3 to 5 inches of snow today, according to a National Weather Service winter weather warning issued Tuesday afternoon.

“Widespread Heavy Snowfall Is Possible!!!” read an urgent alert splashed across the website for the National Weather Service’s Morristown, Tenn., office that predicts Chattanooga’s weather.

A number of area schools and government offices will remain closed for the second day in a row, including Hamilton County Schools. Today is the fifth snow day the county has used out of seven allocated.

WRCB-TV meteorologist Paul Barys said the storm system heading toward the Scenic City is tough to nail down. The various computer models he uses to forecast are “all over the place,” he said.

“I’m thinking it’s a very complicated system. There’s nothing for sure. It’s rare that the models are not converging on a solution, and this is one of those times,” Barys said.

Still, he’s calling for 3 to 5 inches in the Chattanooga metro area and more at higher elevations.

From 6 to 9 inches of snow are expected in parts of North Georgia, and from 4 to 6 inches are called for west of the Cumberland Plateau, he said.

Some models are showing more accumulation, but Barys said much of today’s early snowfall will likely melt.

Barys said the weather is unlikely to be anything like the infamous blizzard of 1993 that walloped the South and dumped about 2 feet of snow on Chattanooga.

“It won’t last as long. It won’t be as intense, and it won’t be that windy,” he said. “The snow should be coming straight down, with very few gusts.”

County spokesman Mike Dunne said officials are taking the warnings seriously.

The county started brining mountain roads on Friday and continued to do so Tuesday, he said. Its highway department is also preparing for an early day.

“We’ve got eight trucks on standby. We may keep some crews at the office tonight. Our guys will be out early in the morning,” Dunne said Tuesday.

The forecasters’ warnings and memories of the paralyzing surprise snowstorm two weeks ago got people’s attention. For example, tire chains were hard to come by Tuesday at Chattanooga auto parts stores.

“We’re selling out of chains,” said parts specialist George Carlisle at O’Reilly Auto Parts on East 23rd Street. “People know about chains. Especially on ice. Ice is where the chains help.”

Other local auto parts stores can order chains — but don’t normally stock them.

“Nobody ever wants them until this starts,” said Jeff Burgess, assistant manager at Napa Auto Parts store on Eighth Avenue, who said he’d had “50 calls today” from people looking for chains.

Georgia state of emergency

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for more than half the state’s counties. President Barack Obama declared an emergency in Georgia, ordering federal agencies to help with the state and local response.

The governor also issued an executive order Tuesday closing most state offices today.

Brian Hoeth, a meteorologist at the Weather Service’s southern regional headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, said forecasters were talking about an ice storm that happens only once every 10 to 20 years for the area.

Aaron Strickland, emergency operations director for Georgia Power, said the utility is bringing in crews from Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and Michigan. Strickland, who has spent 35 years with Georgia Power, said he’s never seen an inch of ice in metro Atlanta.

“I’ve seen people forecast it, but it’s never come,” Strickland said. “And I’m hoping it don’t this time.”

Exclamation points and dire warnings were used liberally by the National Weather Service’s Peachtree City, Ga., office that covers Atlanta.

“A significant winter storm, with crippling snow and ice amounts, is expected Tuesday night into Thursday. Prepare now for this potentially catastrophic event!!” its website warned. “Winter Storm To Result In Impossible Travel Conditions With Widespread and Extended Power Outages.”

Northwest Georgia got a taste of trouble Tuesday. Ice and snow snarled traffic early, including on southbound Interstate 75. It was closed for more than an hour south of Ringgold around 10 a.m. due to a jack-knifed tractor-trailer, according to Catoosa County Fire Department Battalion Chief Steve Quinn.

“We got around an inch [of snow], maybe a little less,” Quinn said.

Walker County had around 2 to 3 inches of snow Tuesday morning south of Rock Spring while Rossville, the county’s northernmost city, was snow-free, county Coordinator David Ashburn said.

“As you go down south is where it really gets deeper,” he said.

Alabama got 7 inches Tuesday

Snowfall on Tuesday hit a regional high mark in Marshall County, Ala., where accumulations were reported as deep as 7 inches, said Brian Carcione, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Huntsville.

Not far off that mark was Rainsville with more than 5 inches and the Fort Payne area at 4 to 6 inches of snow. There might have been even more accumulation atop Lookout Mountain to the east at Mentone, Carcione said of DeKalb County’s snow amounts.

DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency director Anthony Clifton said snowfall was widespread, but problems were manageable on Tuesday.

Numerous fender benders were reported early on Tuesday as people tried to make their way to work, and a couple of big rigs got turned sideways on Alabama Highways 35 and 117, bringing traffic to a halt for a while, Clifton said.

Jackson County officials reported problems on its portions of Highways 35 and 117, at one point allowing just one vehicle at a time to ascend the mountain on Highway 35. State Highway 40 on Sand Mountain was closed for a portion of the day.

  • photo
    Abundant snow covers an antique pickup truck in Valley Head, Ala. early Tuesday.
    Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen reported early on Tuesday that numerous “weather-related” accidents were all over the county.

Today, Northeast Alabama could see about the same amount of snow as Tuesday, doubling totals for the two-day event in some areas, Carcione said.

“For most of North Alabama, this second round will bring more snow,” Carcione said Tuesday afternoon. “We’re looking at 3 to 5 inches, with an outside chance of a little more than that.”

In Alabama, today’s snow event was expected to begin “around 2 to 3 a.m. CST,” Carcione said.

“There’s going to be a band of heavier snow that will set up, but I can’t say with confidence where that will set up,” he said. “With the whole event on back-to-back days, you could have areas get a total of 8 to 10 inches. It’s not out of the question.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6481.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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