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Get ready for the Arctic blast

W. Kenneth Medley II • Updated Jan 28, 2019 at 6:31 PM

Tri-Cities residents should expect a much different commute home Tuesday than the one to work, with an Arctic blast set to arrive between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.

According to Tim Doyle, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Morristown, projected snowfall for Johnson City will be 2 to 3 inches. Higher elevations have the possibility of up to 6 inches. The accumulation will happen quickly during the late morning and early afternoon. The region was put under a winter weather advisory starting at 4 a.m. Monday.

“The biggest concern is the time of day the accumulation will happen,” Doyle said. “It isn’t going to be record-setting, but significant.”

Temperatures will fall approximately 1 degree per hour, bottoming out in the afternoon around the mid-20s. This can cause what the NWS calls a flash freeze. Overnight, it will likely rain while temperatures are still above freezing. Then the Arctic blast will move into the region.

“Overnight temperatures will be the main reason this will be significant,” Doyle said. “All the moisture leftover will freeze on the road while people are at work, rather than while people are sleeping.”

The NWS is advising that people remain off the roads during and after the Arctic blast. According to Doyle, walking may be dangerous and in some areas, driving will be impossible. If one does leave the safety of indoors, Doyle said to bundle in layers. The wind chill is going to drive Tuesday night temperatures below freezing.

Ahead of the impending storm, Johnson City Fire Chief Jim Stables released a public safety statement warning of the dangers of improperly using heaters. The second-leading cause of home fires and fire deaths is home heating equipment.

Stables reminds people to keep combustibles three feet away from heating equipment, have a kid-free zone around sources of heat and make sure proper fuel is burned in space heaters. The fire chief said to turn heaters off when rooms are not being used or people are sleeping.

“We want everyone living and working in our community to be fire safe,” Stables said. “You and your family should be prepared in case fire strikes.”

Steve Harsh, the Johnson City Water and Wastewater maintenance superintendent, reminded residents to protect water lines as temperatures drop. He advised leaving one faucet trickling when temperatures are in the teens or below, locating water line shut-off valves ahead of time and eliminating drafts in basements and crawl spaces.

Bursting pipes can destroy property. It is important to take preventative steps. A burst water pipe or home fire during Wednesday morning’s frigid temperatures may lead to more significant health concerns. The Weather Service is forecasting the cold to last the rest of the week.

Tim Whaley, a spokesman for BrightRidge, said, “We cannot predict what mother nature has in store for us. All we can do is be ready as possible.”

BrightRidge, the electric utility serving most of Washington County, will have all crews, and an additional five contracted crews, on standby in the event of power outages.

Weather information for Johnson City can be found at www.weather.gov/mrx/. For more information about water pipe maintenance and services, call Johnson City Water and Sewer Services at 461-1645. For fire safety information and assistance, call the Johnson City Fire Department at 975-2840.