Icy roads lead to 70 crashes in Chattanooga region, temps expected to warm today

A load of large metal pieces are scattered across the roadway on I-75 blocking traffic in both directions on the icy overpass at the Ooltewah exit on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn. due to an accident.


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photo Emergency personnel work the scene were a motorist lost control and jumped the guardrail after hitting a patch of ice on US 27 North on Wednesday , January 20, 2016.
photo Interstate 75 at Ooltewah at 9:27 a.m.



photo Ice coats the road near the photographer's parked car Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, in Chattanooga, Tenn.


› Accelerate and decelerate slowly.› Apply the gas slowly to accelerate to avoid skidding› Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight.› The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds.› Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow/ice covered roads.Source: Chattanooga Police Department


› Receive weather updates from the city: chattanooga.gov/weather or text “ALERT” to 97779.› Road closure map: www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=zXf6kv-GMBH4.k88vz4hwrqX4› Map of cleared roads: Chattanooga Police Department


TODAY - Cloudy, afternoon rain showers, highs in mid-40sFRIDAY - Morning rain showers, highs mid-40sSATURDAY - Chance of snow, highs in mid-30sSource: National Weather Service at Morristown

At least 70 traffic crashes snarled roadways in the Chattanooga region Wednesday as hours of freezing rain and sleet coated some roads with ice and slush.

Authorities in Hamilton County responded to at least 41 crashes between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m., records show, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol tackled another 31 in the 12-county district around Chattanooga between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

But today should offer a respite from the cold weather, with highs in the 40s - until Friday night, when temperatures are expected to plunge again and bring snow overnight and into Saturday morning, said Derek Eisentrout, meteorologist for the National Weather Service at Morristown, Tenn.

Higher elevations to the north and west of Chattanooga could see between 4 and 5 inches of snow, said Paul Barys, chief meteorologist at WRCB Channel 3. Chattanooga could receive between 1 and 2 inches of snow Saturday, he added, but likely won't see more freezing rain.

"That part of the storm is over with," he said. "The only thing is that in the morning [Saturday], some of the higher elevations could see temperatures below freezing and there could be some slick spots."

Much of the southern Tennessee Valley saw freezing rain and sleet on Wednesday, while parts of the state farther north were hit with snow, Eisentrout said.

Vehicle crashes peppered the city during the worst of the weather Wednesday, with crashes reported on Lee Highway, Signal Mountain Boulevard, Brainerd Road, Cummings Highway, Hixson Pike, Norcross Road and multiple other locations.

Two of the most significant crashes happened on Interstate 75. Both the northbound and southbound sides of I-75 were shut down for about two hours at Exit 11 in Ooltewah after steel fell from a semi-truck and blocked the northbound lanes, according to Chattanooga police.

Traffic also ground to a halt in both directions on I-75 at the Georgia-Tennessee line following an accident involving two tractor-trailers at Cloud Springs Road, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

"We're seeing single-vehicle, multivehicle, commercial vehicles - multiple types of crashes," Tennessee Highway Patrol Lt. John Harmon said.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol also assisted 21 stranded motorists between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wednesday, he added.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office temporarily shut down Roberts Mill Road, the W Road, Highway 111 and Shoal Creek Road because of icy conditions.

The city of Chattanooga did pre-treat some roads to try to prevent ice accumulation Wednesday, according to a release. The city used a new salt-brine machine to prepare the brine mixture. The new machine is capable of producing 5,000 gallons of brine per hour, instead of the 2,000 gallons per hour the last machine could handle.

The city's salt trucks were out on the roads all day Wednesday.

Contact staff writer Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com with tips or story ideas. Follow @ShellyBradbury.