published Monday, January 6th, 2014

Cold expected to get colder in the Chattanooga area (plus closings and road conditions)

  • photo
    Tim Hakes, right, helps William Wynn wrap a pallet of wood off of Ashland Terrace on Sunday. Hakes bought the wood from Wynn as a source of backup heat in case of a power outage in his home.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
    enlarge photo

ROAD CONDITIONS

I-24- Clear, salting due to temperatures.

I-75- Clear, salting due to temperatures.

Bradley Co. – Roads clear, salting roadways due to temperatures

Hamilton Co. – Still snowing on SR111, patches of snow and ice, plowing and salting roadway.

McMinn Co. – Roads clear, salting roadways due to temperatures

Meigs Co. - Roads clear, salting roadways due to temperatures

Polk Co. Roads clear, salting roadways due to temperatures

Source: TDOT

RECORD LOWS

The last time Chattanooga's temperature sank below 5 degrees was in February 1996, when thermostats dipped to 3 degrees. While the city's predicted low of 4 degrees on Tuesday will likely break a record for that date's low (9 degrees in 1970), the temperature doesn't come close to the city's all-time record low of -10 degrees, which was reached on Jan. 21, 1985.

Source: National Weather Service

CLOSINGS AND DELAYS

The Hamilton County Criminal Courts will be closed on Monday.

The Hamilton County General Sessions Courts, both civil and criminal, will be closed on Monday.

North Georgia Health District and county health departments delay opening until 10 a.m. Monday.

All campuses of Georgia Northwestern Technical College will be closed today due to weather conditions. All classes are canceled.

UTC will be delayed until 10 a.m. today.

Whitfield and Polk County schools will be closed Monday with forecasts calling for inclement weather.

Hamilton County Schools had been set to be closed for students on Monday, but it was stated the closing includes central office, school administrators, school age child care and all faculty and staff. All extra-curricular activities are also cancelled. Maintenance employees will report to work at regular times Monday.

Whitfield County Schools staff will not report to work on Monday. Until further notice, students and staff of Whitfield County Schools are still scheduled to return on Tuesday.

Walker, Dade, Grundy, Catoosa and Murray County, Ga., schools also will be closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Erlanger Health System physician offices will open at 10 a.m. Monday, January 6, due to road and weather conditions. All five of Erlanger's Emergency Departments - at the main campus downtown, Children's Hospital, Erlanger North, Erlanger East and Erlanger Bledsoe remain open for emergency care.

The Hunter Museum of American Art will be closed Monday.

Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Lisa McCluskey announced some weather-delays on Monday.

The Chattanooga Heart Institute will delay opening until 10 a.m. at all locations.

Cardiac rehabilitation will open at 10 a.m. at all locations.

Memorial New Associate Orientation is canceled for Jan. 6, 2014

Endoscopy and Surgery at Memorial Hospital and Memorial Hospital Hixson will be open as scheduled on Jan. 6, 2014.

Memorial Wound Center is open as scheduled on Jan. 6, 2014.

The Inclement Weather Policy is in effect as of 9 p.m. Sunday. Associates are expected to report to work as scheduled. Associates may call their leader for questions.

Brace yourselves, Southerners: Dixie is going to feel more like the Arctic for a while.

Temperatures that haven't dipped this low in more than a decade could make braving the outdoors today and Tuesday downright dangerous. The National Weather Service says the bitterly cold air temperatures and subzero wind chills could lead to frostbite, hypothermia and even death.

With possible rain, sleet and snow headed for the Tennessee Valley on Sunday night, area crews stayed busy salting roads and highways throughout the night. Work began as early as Friday and Saturday prepping for the storm.

Schools across Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia began announcing cancellations early Sunday afternoon, and shoppers decimated the milk, bread and egg selections at area grocery stores in the usual pre-storm rush for essentials.

Early forecasts called for snow overnight and into today, but only half an inch or less is likely to stick in valley areas like Chattanooga, said WRCB-TV meteorologist Nick Austin. In the mountains and higher elevations, as much as an inch or two may accumulate. But the real concern is a possible layer of ice under the snow that could make streets and highways dangerous.

"There will be black ice under the snow. And that could start overnight," Austin said. "That's probably a bigger concern than snow. It's not going to be one of these big snowstorms like we saw three years ago."

With temperatures staying well below freezing into Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory and wind chill advisory for the Chattanooga area.

Temperatures Monday night and into Tuesday will dip into the single digits, with wind chills sinking well below zero -- weather more reminiscent of a Midwest or Northeastern winter. Tuesday's predicted low of 4 degrees could break a 1970 record of 9 degrees for that date, Austin said.

Hamilton County Emergency Services spokeswoman Amy Maxwell said the weather could be especially dangerous for the elderly, children and pets. But temperatures that low mean everyone should take precautions.

"This kind of weather is something we just don't see every year," she said. "A lot of people aren't used to this kind of weather when you live down here."

So anyone spending even a few minutes outdoors needs to bundle up, making sure to cover any exposed skin.

"Everything needs to be covered up," she said.

County, city and state crews began treating roads early in the weekend. Salt and plow trucks headed out Sunday evening, though some roads were treated well before the storm arrived. The Tennessee Department of Transportation began treating state highways and interstates in the region with a mixture of brine, calcium chloride and beet juice on Saturday morning, said department spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn.

Officials are urging extreme caution for anyone driving today. Flynn said TDOT crews will do their best to make roadways safe. But with temperatures dipping to single digits, there are no guarantees.

"We'll be out there and we'll fight it as best as we can," she said. "But it may be a little dicey."

It will take some 300 employees and 200 trucks to treat highways across TDOT's 24-county region. Flynn said crews were told to rest up Sunday afternoon with the anticipation of working throughout the night Sunday.

"They'll definitely work all night and probably well on into Monday," she said. "We'll work the event until its over -- until we get down to dry pavement."

Contact staff writer Kevin Hardy at khardy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6249.

  • photo
    Chattanooga Public Works Department trucks equipped with snowplows sit parked and ready on Sunday.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
    enlarge photo

about Kevin Hardy...

Kevin rejoined the Times Free Press in August 2011 as the Southeast Tennessee K-12 education reporter. He worked as an intern in 2009, covering the communities of Signal Mountain, Red Bank, Collegedale and Lookout Mountain, Tenn. A native Kansan, Kevin graduated with bachelor's degrees in journalism and sociology from the University of Kansas. After graduating, he worked as an education reporter in Hutchinson, Kan., for a year before coming back to Chattanooga. Honors include a ...

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