published Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Rough weather inbound for Chattanooga tonight

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That's the word used by WRCB-TV Channel 3 Chief Meteorologist Paul Barys about the weather moving into the Chattanooga area tonight that could bring heavy downpours, lashing winds, hail and the possibility of tornadoes.

"Anywhere in the area we're probably going to have strong to severe thunderstorms and some tornado watches," Barys said. "It could get nasty."

The worst of the storms is expected to hit the region between 10 p.m. tonight and 3 a.m. Saturday morning, the National Weather Service reported Thursday.

"People may be sleeping, and that could be bad," said Todd Hyslop, meteorologist with the National Weather Service at Morristown, Tenn.

Showers are expected earlier in the day, with storms moving in a line stretching from Birmingham, Ala., to Indiana that will push eastward toward the tri-state region later tonight, Barys said.

But the storms hitting late could be a good thing because cooler temperatures could make for less-volatile conditions and less-violent weather, Hyslop added.

Local emergency personnel already are getting ready.

"We will all be on standby in case it gets bad," said Hamilton County Chief of Emergency Management Bill Tittle. "The problem is that it's a wide band and it's hard to know where it'll be bad. But we have been in touch with all of the agencies, the schools, the hospitals, and we'll continue to do that."

County emergency officials will be briefed by the National Weather Service at 4 p.m. today, he said.

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