published Thursday, February 13th, 2014

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FRIDAY SCHOOL DELAYS AND CLOSINGS

Athens City Schools will be closed.

Bachmann Academy will be on a 1-hour delay.

Berean Academy will be on a 2-hour delay.

Bledsoe County Schools will be closed.

Bradley County Schools will be closed.

Catoosa County Schools will be closed.

Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy will be on a 2-hour delay.

Chattooga County Schools will be on a 2-hour delay.

Cleveland Christian School will be closed.

Cleveland City Schools will be closed.

Cornerstone Christian will be on a 3-hour delay.

Dade County Schools will be closed.

Dayton City School will be on a 2-hour delay.

DeKalb County Schools will be on a 3-hour delay.

Etowah City School will be closed.

Fannin County Schools will be closed.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College (all campuses) will open at 9 a.m.

Gordon County Schools will be closed.

Greater Collegedale School System will be on a 1-hour delay.

Hamilton County Schools will be closed.

Jackson County Schools will be on a 3-hour delay.

Marion County Schools will be closed.

McMinn County Schools will be closed.

Meigs County Schools will be closed.

Murray County Schools will be closed.

Oakwood Christian Academy will be on a 2-hour delay.

Rhea County Schools will be closed.

Sequatchie County Schools will be closed.

Sweetwater City Schools will be closed.

Union County Schools will be on a 2-hour delay.

Walker County Schools will be closed.

Whitfield County Schools will be closed. (staff should report by 10 a.m. if it is safe for them to do so)

Openings

North Georgia Health District Office and all county health departments open at 9 A.M. on Friday.

Georgia Department of Labor offices to reopen Friday following.

  • photo
    Ashley Cuticchia walks across the Walnut Street Bridge as snow accumulates on February 12, 2014.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
    enlarge photo

The role of weather balloons

WRCB-TV meteorologist Paul Barys said Eastern Tennessee lacks a key tool that would make weather predictions easier: weather balloons that record temperatures in the upper atmosphere.

Such balloons are released twice a day all around the world at the same time, he said. But the closest balloons to Chattanooga are released in Nashville, Atlanta and Blacksburg, Va. -- all of which are too far away to help predict weather here.

"In reality, we're flying blind," Barys said. "We don't know what the upper air temperature is over East Tennessee."

Barys wishes weather balloons would be released at the Morristown, Tenn., National Weather Service station that predicts Chattanooga's weather.

"It would help," he said. "There's never too much [weather] data."

-- Tim Omarzu

THURSDAY SCHOOL CLOSINGS

Baylor School

Bradley County

Catoosa County

Chickamauga City

Cleveland City

Dade County

Dalton City

Georgia Northwestern Technical College

Hamilton County

McCallie School

Murray County

Silverdale Baptist

Walker County

Whitfield County

CLOSURES

Chattanooga City Court morning and afternoon dockets are closed Thursday.

Hamilton County General Sessions Courts are closed Thursday.

UTC officials will make an announcement regarding the Thursday schedule by 6 a.m. Thursday morning.

The North Georgia Health District office and Public Health Departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield counties will remain closed Thursday.

All Walker County Offices and Transit will be closed Thursday.

United Way of Greater Chattanooga will be closed on Wednesday, Feb. 12, due to severe weather conditions.

Southern Adventist University's campus will be closed and no classes held all day on Wednesday, February 12.

Due to inclement weather on Feb. 12, 2014, Memorial Health Care System will observe the following openings, closings and delays.

The Inclement Weather Policy is in effect as of February 12, 2014. Associates are expected to report to work as scheduled. Associates may call their Director for questions.

The Chattanooga Heart Institute locations - closed

Ooltewah Imaging Center - closed

Volunteer Services - closed

MarryEllen Locher Breast Center all locations - closed

Out Patient Rehab all locations - closed

Out Patient Rehab all locations - closed

Diabetes & Nutrition Center - closed

Weight Management Center - closed

Patients are encouraged to call ahead to confirm physician appointments.

Due to inclement weather on Feb. 12, 2014, Memorial Health Partner Foundation physicians will observe the following closings and delays. Patients are asked to call ahead to confirm before traveling.

Hixson Pike Medical Center - closed

North Park Family Medicine - closed

Signal Mt. Health & Wellness - opening at noon

Professional Park Associates - closed

Buz Standifer Lung Center - closed

TCFPA, Family Medical Center - closed

Delays

The City of Chattanooga will have an employee delay until 10 a.m. This excludes essential employees, including road clearing crews, public safety personnel, and 311 operators.

Chattem Inc. will delay opening until 11 a.m.

Southern Adventist University will operate on a delayed schedule:

11 a.m. -- Convocation will be held as scheduled

12 p.m. -- All Thursday classes will be held beginning at noon as scheduled through the rest of the day

1 p.m. -- Employees should report for regularly scheduled work assignments (Exceptions to 1 p.m. start time: Faculty/staff who assist with convocation, faculty who teach noon classes, and any employees determined essential by supervisor.)

Poll
Are you ready for spring?

There are 50 different Eskimo words for snow, including "softly falling snow" and "snow that is good for driving sled," according to the British magazine "The New Scientist."

If you had to coin an Eskimo phrase for the Chattanooga area's weather on Wednesday, it might be "it took a lot longer than expected for rain and sleet to turn into snow."

Wednesday began with fresh snow blanketing Chattanooga. People stayed home in droves. Schools and workplaces had closed after forecasters made dire weather predictions.

Yet in many areas, roads were warm enough to prevent snow from sticking. And where snow and ice were an early-morning problem, by mid-afternoon, rain and above-freezing temperatures had melted much of it.

By 5 p.m., 1.7 inches of snow had been recorded at the airport. And that's when the snow started back up in Chattanooga with big, heavy flakes filling the air and sticking to the ground.

WRCB-TV chief meteorologist Paul Barys stood by his previous day's prediction of snow accumulations of 3 to 5 inches Wednesday night in Chattanooga and up to 11 inches in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He said the snow really would start to stick late.

"It's going to be well after dark," said Barys, who described the weather as "wild, it's a real mix of things in the upper atmosphere."

As a result, schools in Hamilton County and across the region were closed again today.

North Alabama was predicted to get around 5 inches overnight. And North Georgians were warned "do not let your guard down," by the National Weather Service's Peachtree City office, which said 5 inches of snow would fall in Trenton and 6 inches in Dalton by 7 a.m. today.

Road crews ready

The city of Chattanooga was ready for the worst. By Tuesday night, the city had sprayed more than 50,000 gallons of brine on key city streets, according to Lacie Stone, the city's spokeswoman.

Starting at 5 a.m. Wednesday, 18 salt and sand trucks -- six of them equipped with plows -- took to "strategic positions" throughout the city, she said.

Stone said Wednesday the fleet of trucks would be staffed 24 hours a day through Saturday, if needed. Garbage collection would also continue as long as the routes were safe, she said.

Less-than-treacherous conditions were reported in most of the rest of the county Wednesday afternoon.

But county spokesman Mike Dunne said the county wasn't counting on Old Man Winter to take it easy for long. The county staffed eight trucks with crews Wednesday morning to be ready to clear roads.

Trion, Ga., in Chattooga County got 4 inches of snow Tuesday, which put it in the Top 10 for the Southern Appalachian region.

But snow wasn't a problem in Trion during the day Wednesday -- or elsewhere in northwest Georgia.

"We had a lot of ice this morning. It's mostly gone away," Chattooga County Public Works Director Joe Reed said at 1 p.m. "Been raining the last several hours."

Walker County, Ga., county coordinator David Ashburn said there had been a few minor accidents, but overall "it's been pretty low-key."

"People have done a good job of staying home," he said.

In downtown Dalton, Ga., research chemist Tim Brown was getting around in his four-wheel-drive Jeep.

"I don't mind snow at all, in fact, I love to go play in it , because, I'm still that much of a kid," said Brown. "Around here I haven't had any problems, and haven't heard of any."

Fewer problems all around

In Tennessee, no weather-related accidents were reported in either Polk or McMinn counties.

In Bradley County, a woman and her toddler were hurt in a crash of a vehicle into a tree in the 4600 block of South Lee Highway that appeared to be weather-related.

Marion County, Tenn., Sheriff Ronnie "Bo" Burnett said the roads were better prepared than they were a couple of weeks ago when a dusting in the bitter cold made a mess of roads across the region.

"They really threw the beet juice and salt to the roads overnight," he said.

Overall, problems with traffic and just about everything else seemed better on Wednesday.

Two weeks ago, during Chattanooga's last snow storm, 55 adults and children were treated for weather-related injuries over a two-day period at Erlanger emergency rooms.

Dr. Rob Hamilton, director of Emergency Services for the Erlanger Health System, said only one person was treated for a slip and fall injury attributed to icy conditions by mid-afternoon Wednesday.

"We've had several individuals treated for slip and fall injuries in our ER's today, but only one discharged patient whose injuries were directly related to weather conditions," he said.

•••

Observations from local people

PERFECT FOR WATCHING OLYMPICS

Caroline Huffaker was up for work this morning when she checked a voice mail from her job at the Partnership for Children, Families and Adults. The office was closed.

Clay, her husband and a teacher at Chattanooga Christian School, said she was elated. They would both be home for a snow day at their home near Thrasher Elementary School.

The wintry mix was on and off through the day, but they were prepared for the arctic blast predicted for the evening, he said.

While their driveway was covered in slush, he said roads looked good in their area and he expects schools will only be delayed Thursday.

In the meantime, he said the couple planned to cuddle up and watch the winter Olympics and later take their dog, Lola, out to roll in the snow.

"I really enjoy snow days," he said. "It is always a nice unexpected break. We probably like them just as much as the kids do."

EMPTY BUSES

Four big yellow school buses sat unmanned behind Red Bank Elementary School on Wednesday.

The school's parking lots and driveways were free of snow. As snow switched over to sleet, the school's plastic playground and the adjacent Mountain Creek Park were abandoned, save for a brave runner or two.

Not far from the empty swings that swung from the breeze, a leaning 3-foot snowman threatened to topple over.

DRIVERS BEWARE

When the last snowstorm hit Chattanooga Jan. 28, Jonathan Fletcher's car got hit by another driver.

"A lady hit me the other day and ripped off half my bumper," said Fletcher.

So the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga criminal justice sophomore was playing it safe and staying at his North Chattanooga apartment, since UTC had canceled classes.

Meanwhile, Monica Shubert, a UTC senior who's studying psychology, public administration and nonprofit management, was planning to hit the road Wednesday afternoon and expected to go to a friend's potluck dinner Wednesday night.

"Roads aren't that bad. It doesn't look like it's going to be bad," Shubert said. "No worries here."

ALL THE COMFORTS

In Harrison, residents observed a wintry mix through they day, alternating between freezing rain and large, lush snowflakes that melted as they touched the ground. After the unexpected snowfall a couple of weeks ago, some chose to work from home Wednesday.

Mary Laband, who works in the information technology department at Erlanger, was working from her home near Harrison Bay. She took breaks to walk her Lab mix, Buttercup, down her street.

During the last snowfall, it took her five hours to get home, she said.

"It was nice not to have to deal with the commute," she said. "A lot of people stayed in to work from home."

IN THE REGION

Weather was a factor in a crash that injured a woman and a small child Wednesday morning. Bradley County Sheriff's Office spokesman Bob Gault said a car ran off the road in the 4600 block of South Lee Highway around 8:45 a.m. and hit a tree.

The driver and a female toddler were taken to Chattanooga hospitals for treatment.

McMinn County roads were mostly clear as of Wednesday afternoon, but snow was beginning to pile up in Delano and Conasauga and secondary roads and bridges were turning icy, said Steven Lofty, director of Polk County 911.

Turtletown and Copperhill in eastern Polk County were experiencing slightly worse conditions because of their elevation, said Lofty.

No weather-related vehicle accidents have been reported for either counties, said officials.

"So far, we're good," said Trotter.

Staff writers Kate Harrison, Alex Harris and Ben Benton contributed to this report.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6481.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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