As promised, snow blanketed Northeast Tennessee early Wednesday morning, as accumulations of anywhere from 1 to 5 inches prompted school closings and delays throughout the region.
Johnson City schools were on a two-hour delay and Washington County schools closed due to the snow.
According to Randall Lewis, assistant director of Washington County 911, the county did not see too many accidents Wednesday, as Johnson City received around 1 to 2 inches of snowfall.
He said driving conditions on primary roads seemed to be OK while secondary roads had a little bit of snow cover. Lewis said 911 received reports of around 15 wrecks without injuries between 7 and 10 a.m.
Lewis said the busiest time was around 9 a.m., when they saw a total of six wrecks reported.
He said overall, dispatchers had a pretty low volume morning.
While snow fell in Unicoi County throughout the early hours, it wasn’t until later Wednesday morning that snow began piling up throughout the county. Unicoi County schools were closed Wednesday and schools have been called off for today.
After the snowfall had tapered off, Unicoi County Emergency Management Director Ed Herndon said the town of Erwin experienced a “dusting” to 1 inch of accumulation, but he said other areas of the county saw between 2 to 5 inches of snowfall, if not more.
“We know that on Unaka Mountain there’s 2 feet,” Herndon said early Wednesday afternoon.
However, Herndon said officials were “fortunate” with the timing of the snow, as road crews were able to prepare for it. Unicoi County Superintendent of Roads Terry Haynes said crews worked Tuesday to prepare trucks and load up on road salt. Haynes said crews with his department began salting county roadways at around 4 a.m. Wednesday. Haynes said Wednesday afternoon that road conditions were a little worse in the higher elevations of the county’s south end and in the Limestone Cove area, but he said roads were open.
“I just came from the south end, and it looks pretty good,” Haynes said.
Haynes said crews would remain on through the remainder of the night, working to ensure roads are passable this morning.
Like Herndon, Erwin Police Chief Regan Tilson said officials were fortunate with the snow’s timing, adding that the Erwin Street Department was “absolutely on top of it.” Tilson said Wednesday afternoon that there were only a few slick spots in town, and that Erwin’s roads, although wet, were passable and clear.
Tilson said dropping temperatures overnight may lead to the formation of black ice. He urged those who have to travel early this morning to take caution, especially on bridges and overpasses, and allow themselves more travel time.
Herndon said a winter storm warning remains in effect for Unicoi County until 6 a.m. today, and that the county could see 1 to 2 additional inches of accumulation overnight.
The roads in the higher elevations of Carter County were snow and ice covered Wednesday morning, but Highway Superintendent Jack Perkins said they were clear by the afternoon.
Perkins said the village of Roan Mountain had about 4 inches of snow and there was about 6 inches on Buck Mountain. Conditions were also difficult in Stoney Creek. Perkins said the Blue Springs area had about 2 inches.
Road crews said temperatures by midday had risen enough to provide a lot of help in clearing the roads. The temperatures were several degrees above freezing in most sections of the county.
Perkins said one of the biggest problems was in the Burbank community above the Roan Mountain State Park. He said one of the county’s dump trucks went off the right side of Jess Jarrett Road and had to be pulled out. There were no injuries in the mishap.
Despite the difficult road conditions, Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes said there were only a few reports of wrecks. The worst was the normally hazardous stretch of Siam Road at Beck Mountain. He said there were two wrecks along that stretch of the road.
Mathes said conditions could again be hazardous this morning. “The roads could freeze during the night and we could have black ice,” Mathes said.
Perkins said his crews will be back out this morning to finish the job and hopes the warming temperatures will once again make the job easier.
Today’s temperatures are forecast to be warmer, with the high around 46 degrees and the low tonight around 26 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Morristown.
The warming trend is expected to continue, withe Friday’s high predicted to be 51 degrees and Saturday’s high should be around 60 degrees. The low on Friday is forecast to be 29 degrees with Saturday’s low around 35 degrees.
Press Staff Writer Jennifer Sprouse, Elizabethton Bureau Chief John Thompson and Erwin Bureau Chief Brad Hicks contributed to this report