Area prepping for ‘significant’ weather

Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 10:56 am

Road crews across the region were busy Tuesday pre-treating the roadways and school officials across East Tennessee made the decision to close area schools ahead of a “significant” winter event that is expected to drop a massive amount of wet, heavy snow across the region.

The National Weather Service office in Morristown issued a winter weather warning at 4 p.m. Tuesday for all of East Tennessee and parts of Southwest Virginia and extreme Southwest North Carolina. At that time, the storm was expected to drop between four and six inches of snow across the valley, with higher snowfall totals expected in the mountains.

That changed overnight.

“The snow is going to be heavier and deeper than originally forecast,” NWS Forecaster Shawn O’Neill said Wednesday morning. The NWS updated its winter weather warning at 3:42 a.m. Wednesday.

Hamblen, Grainger, Jefferson, Claiborne and Northwest Cocke counties could receive between four and eight inches of snow. Cocke County Smoky Mountains could see eight to 12 inches, with the highest peaks in the Smokies receiving higher amounts. Hancock, Hawkins and Greene counties could receive between five to 10 inches.

The timing of the storm hasn’t changed, however. O’Neill said by 8 a.m. the southern parts of Tennessee were already seeing snow. The snow is expected to move into the Tennessee Valley counties between 10 a.m. and noon and the northern areas of the Lakeway Area by 1 p.m.

The forecaster said the heaviest snowfall is expected Wednesday evening and overnight into Thursday morning.

The NWS warns that the snow will likely produce snow and ice-covered roads Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning, making travel hazardous. Localized power outages due to downed trees and power lines are possible.

The NWS will hold another weather briefing at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday to further fine-tune the forecast.

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-By Denise Williams, Tribune Staff Writer

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