THE OUTLOOK: LOW, AND MAYBE SNOW
Today: High 33, Low 19 // clear
Saturday: High 45, Low 31 // partly cloudy
Sunday: High 46, Low 22 // 70 percent chance of rain or snow
Monday: High 28, Low 9 // 60 percent chance of snow
Source: National Weather Service
Jack Frost may not be pummelling the Chattanooga area as hard as he is New York and New England — but temperatures in the Scenic City and surrounding region are well below average and worse is coming, forecasters say.
"By [Friday] morning, your fellow Chattanoogans will wake up to a low of 18 degrees. And they'll only see a high of 33 degrees," National Weather Service forecaster Derek Eisentrout said. He works in the weather service's Morristown, Tenn., office.
Factor in blustery winds expected to accompany the front, and residents will feel like it is 10 degrees outside -- even colder at higher elevations, Eisentrout said.
But today's cold front is really just the chilly left hook before the frigid haymaker.
Another front will move in Monday and bring a second blast of arctic air.
The Weather Service forecasts a low of 9 degrees on Monday, with a double whammy coming the next day. Tuesday's low will be 10 degrees, with a high of 28, Eisentrout said.
Sure it's winter, but Eisentrout says this weather is unusual.
"This time of year, you would normally expect to see a high temperature of 50 degrees and a low of 31 degrees. It will be exceptionally cold," he said.
His findings are based on a 30-year average temperature for the area. Last year, in early January, the high was one point off the average, at 49 degrees.
But East Tennessee has it better than North Georgia, according to Mike Leary, a weather service forecaster in Peachtree City, Ga.
"It's raining right now, and we are concerned that as the sun goes down we are afraid that will freeze. There will be gusty winds that will create wind chill values close to zero, and there's a possibility of black ice [at elevations] above 1,500 feet," Leary said.
The Weather Service is making similar predictions for northern Alabama.
Snow flurries fell in the Chattanooga area Thursday night.
In Hamilton County, the highway department sprayed brine on roads on Signal Mountain on Thursday. The W Road got a treatment of salt and sand as a precaution, county spokesman Mike Dunne said.
Meanwhile, Emergency Services Director Tony Reavley is asking residents to be extra cautious and be prepared for the cold.
He urged residents to keep heaters far away from furniture, curtains and other combustible materials. And for those who must travel, he said to get prepared.
"Plan for the worst and hopefully nothing happens. I always tell people to make sure they have plenty of fuel in their vehicle," Reavley said.
High winds and freezing temperatures also increase the risk of falling trees, so Reavley also urges people to be aware on the roads and prepared for possible power outages.
When the second front comes in early next week, Reavley said, residents should leave water faucets partially on to avoid frozen pipes.
"We're told the first of next week the temperature might be in the single digits. Now that's cold. They need to take extra precautions. If it gets down to the single digits, it might not be a bad idea to leave the faucet on."
Up north, thousands of flights in New York and New England have been grounded or delayed, and many businesses are not opening because of more than a foot of snow in some places. High temperatures in some areas are just above zero.
Paul Barys, chief meteorologist at WRCB-TV Chattanooga, said Thursday that no cold weather records have been broken, but plenty of cold air is coming.
"We could have more than 48 hours of below freezing temperatures," Barys said.
Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6481.
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 ...