TEMA declares Tennessee icing a state of emergency

TEMA declares Tennessee icing a state of emergency

January 25th, 2013 by Pam Sohn in News

Motorists travel South on U.S. 27 during a light misty rain just after 8 a.m. Friday. Meteorologists are calling for some clouds and temperatures around 50 degrees for today.

Photo by Patrick Smith/Times Free Press.

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency has declared a state of emergency.

"Due to ice and wrecks, TEMA has gone to a level 3 activation and a state of emergency is in effect as of 9 a.m. this morning," according to a statewide release from TEMA spokesman Dean Flener.

Most of the trouble is in the Knoxville area and along the Interstate 40 corridor, he said, with I-40 receiving heavy freezing rain. But Interstate 24 is also a trouble spot, especially in Montgomery County where 20 motor accidents had been reported.

TEMA officials said the Tennessee Department of Transportation's Smartway system reports six roadway incidents and 69 ice/snow-covered highways and two extremely hazardous highways.

"[I-24] is a sheet of ice ... Kentucky has been alerted to warn drivers heading south about the icy conditions," according to the TEMA statement.

Officials said icing continues to move into East Tennessee and forecasters have increased the predicted ice accumulations to as much as a half-inch.

Icy conditions will be prevalent in the higher elevations and on the Cumberland Plateau.

Flener said TEMA cannot declare regional states of emergency, but statewide declarations such as the one today are fairly common.

"That allows us to bring people in here and be prepared to respond if a county needs help," he said. "It also gives us the legal authority to make decisions to act."

TEMA officials said there now are seven emergency shelters open in parts of East Tennessee. There is no one in those shelters yet.