'Snowzilla' grazes Chattanooga

'Snowzilla' grazes Chattanooga

January 24th, 2016 by Emmett Gienapp in Local Regional News

Gus Spahr walks his dog Marlowe on Ridgeway Drive after winter storm Jonas swept across the Eastern United States on Saturday, January 23, 2016, in Red Bank, Tenn. While much of the East Coast received heavy snowfall, the Tennessee Valley was less effected.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Gallery: "Snowzilla" grazes Chattanooga

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Chattanooga residents can breathe a sigh of relief now after dodging a massive blizzard over the weekend.

After days of predictions forecasting several inches of snowfall, most of Hamilton County and the surrounding areas were left with an average of only 1 inch when Winter Storm Jonas barely clipped the city as it moved eastward Friday night.

Jessica Winton, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tenn., said dry air could be credited for the lack of precipitation in the area. She said when NWS meteorologists first started examining the system they thought a lot of moisture was going to come with it, but the dry air moved in and limited snowfall.

Though some may have been disappointed by the lack of snow, Winton said she was glad residents weren't hurt or seriously inconvenienced by inclement weather. People stayed home and away from the roads.

"Everyone is safe and they all have groceries now," she joked.

Josh Dover, a supervisor for Hamilton County dispatch, also said people stayed fairly safe over the night of the storm, which blew in with strong, gusty winds.

"There were a few wrecks," he said, "but it would be speculative to even say that they were weather-related."

Some areas, including the more mountainous regions in Marion, Sequatchie and Grundy counties in Tennessee and Jackson County, Ala., did receive a few more inches than the Tennessee Valley, according to Nick Austin, a WRCB meteorologist.

"It was probably a little less than we thought we were going to get for the valley," Austin said. "Luckily we didn't, because the streets are clear."

Spots in Grundy County got 3 inches of snow, as did Monteagle, while Cagle, Mowbray and Signal mountains all got around 2 inches.

Austin still cautioned safety for residents in mountainous regions, though.

"The main problem in those higher elevations is that since it was raining first, some of the secondary roads are probably still icy underneath the snow," he said.

Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen of Jackson County said the mountainous areas in Northwest Alabama were the areas hit hardest. He said he worked until midnight on Friday helping with small traffic incidents and issues stemming from the weather.

"It was ugly," he said, "and we still have very icy conditions."

But the worst of the weather is now over, according to Winton, and she is predicting sun and a high of 45 degrees today. The downside of warming temps is possible melting and refreezing tonight as temperatures dip to a low of 29.

Monday should bring clear skies as well before transitioning into rain that night and into Tuesday, followed by another slight chance of snow on Wednesday morning. Temperatures should remain marginally warmer than they have been recently, although forecasters aren't certain how long that will last.

Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at egienapp@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.