Road crews kept busy throughout Northeast Tennessee

Tony Casey • Jan 25, 2014 at 9:38 PM

It was all hands on deck Saturday, as several inches of snow hit the Johnson City area.

The initial estimate of light snow, just about an inch, fell by the wayside. Tennessee Department of Transportation Community Relations Officer Mark Nagy said road crews were out in full effect early Saturday.

He said snow covered most major county roads in Carter, Greene, Johnson, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington counties throughout the day. Interstates 26 and 81 were also slowed with snow accumulation.

“In Johnson City, we have about 1 to 1½ inches and salt trucks are on all routes,” Nagy said.

The onslaught of snow brought havoc to roads. Various accidents were reported around Johnson City and in all neighboring counties. Tennessee Highway Patrol dispatchers said they were extremely busy through the day, with several accidents reported in the challenging conditions.

A dispatcher with Washington County-Johnson City Emergency Services said accidents were occurring so frequently that if the vehicles involved were still driveable after a fender-bender, drivers were asked to exchange information, safely drive home and file reports after the weather improved.

The Johnson City Police Department’s Twitter page said at least a dozen accidents were reported over the course of the afternoon, with at least one injury. They warned of travel in these kinds of conditions.

“Roads are very slick and snow covered. Please be very careful, refrain from travel if possible,” one Tweet read.

Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department dispatchers said that they were getting a great deal of calls during the snowstorm, but conditions weren’t causing the same amount of accidents in their area.

“Accident-wise, we’ve only had one, and I’m not sure it was weather-related,” a dispatcher said. “The snow all hit at once, and when we came in (at around 3 p.m.), roads were already almost cleaned up.”

National Weather Service in Morristown Meteorologist Derek Eisentrout said reports were coming in that Johnson City had gotten 2 inches of snow, with an area-high mark of 3½ inches in Mountain City. He said Tri-Cities Regional Airport at Blountville reported 1.4 inches of snow, but the amount wasn’t too much for the airport to be able to handle.

A low-pressure system is headed this way, Eisentrout said. The system will be fairly dry, bringing in just a touch of snow, upward of half an inch, but whatever weather comes will be accompanied by a splash of cold air through mid-week.

Temperatures will begin to drop Monday, with an afternoon high in the low 30s before a big drop to just above 0 Tuesday morning. The temperature will go up to around 16 degrees Tuesday before dropping down to just above 0 again Wednesday morning. From there, Eisentrout said, there will be a general pattern of gradual warming temperatures.

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