Winter weather strikes Chattanooga area [photos]

Winter weather strikes Chattanooga area [photos]

January 7th, 2017 by David Cobb in Local Regional News

Isa Baez slides down her family's icy driveway after an overnight winter storm brought snow to the region Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Icy roads caused headaches for motorists as the temperatures dropped into the teens overnight.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Gallery: Winter storm all bark, no bite

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Overnight snowfall on Friday across Southeast Tennessee and parts of North Georgia created slick roads that sent some motorists in the region sliding through the night and into Saturday morning.

No serious or fatal accidents were reported, but police dispatchers across the region said Saturday they'd received more calls than usual as a result of the wintry weather. And the National Weather Service is cautioning that black ice could still result as temperatures remain below freezing.

"For ya'll down there, the really cold temperatures that have moved in are the big story," said Andrew Pritchett, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service's Morristown, Tenn., office.

Temperatures may hit the low 30s today but will fall into the low teens overnight, according to WRCB-TV meteorologist Nick Austin. Monday will be a bit warmer, with the thermostat pushing to around 40 before dropping to the midteens again at night.

The NWS winter weather advisory issued Friday was lifted Saturday morning in Southeast Tennessee and by early afternoon in North Georgia.

Only about a half-inch of snow fell in downtown Chattanooga, and it had almost entirely melted by early Saturday afternoon. The city's Department of Public Works tweeted that "Sun & wind drying roads up in Chattanooga pretty quickly thanks to the treatments overnight. Stay safe & avoid driving if possible."

The W Road and Roberts Mill Road up Signal Mountain were closed overnight Friday but reopened Saturday, the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office reported.

Several weather-related car crashes were reported Friday night on both north- and southbound Interstate 75 near the Volkswagen Drive exit, according to Chattanooga police. The wrecks prompted the public works department to dispatch salt trucks to the area.

By Saturday afternoon, the Tennessee Department of Transportation sent a news release saying state routes and interstates in the region were mostly clear and dry. Spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn said skeleton crews would monitor potential refreezing overnight, especially in rural areas that suffered the worst road conditions.

Dispatchers in Bradley County, Tenn., and Murray County Ga., said back roads in their areas were slick Saturday morning, causing some motorists to slide off the road and, in some cases, into ditches.

Some rural areas in Southeast Tennessee received 2 inches of snow, according to Pritchett.

A dispatcher in Polk County said no weather-related accidents had been reported there.

"Knock on wood," the dispatcher said. "Everyone is trying to stay home, I reckon."

That's the same advice Pritchett gave to Southeast Tennessee residents. With temperatures possibly dropping to the single-digits in Athens, Tenn., tonight, he said anyone going outside needs to bundle up.

"Please take this cold seriously," he said.

Fortunately, residents seemed to take care with flames and heating elements in their homes through Saturday, preventing accidental fires that Amy Maxwell, a spokeswoman for Hamilton County Emergency Services, warned about heading into the weekend.

As temperatures remain frigid through today, Maxwell said the warning to take the cold seriously is still relevant.

"To prevent other cold-related emergencies, dress in layers, wear a hat and gloves, be aware of the wind chill, and stay active to maintain body heat," she wrote in an email. "Infants, children, the elderly (especially those not wearing adequate clothing or living without heat), and people outdoors for extended periods are most at risk for hypothermia."

As of Saturday afternoon there had been no major incidents related to the wintry weather, according to Bruce Garner, a spokesman for the Chattanooga Fire Department.

Firefighters responded to a house fire on Taylor Street but no one was harmed and the cause of the fire had not been determined as of Saturday night.

The cold weather increased electric power demand. Patrick Walshe, manager of operations at the Tennessee Valley Authority, said weekend power demand would be on par with a typical weekday load instead of being significantly lower, as it usually is.

TVA predicted Friday that peak demand for power will reach its highest level in a year as electric furnaces run to keep homes warm.

"We're projecting a load of over 26,000 MWs (megawatts) this weekend," said Walshe. "The last time we saw loads this high was on January 19, 2016."

The utility's all-time peak demand came in January 2014, when temperatures fell to an average 7 degrees across the valley and power use jumped to 33,345 megawatts.

Staff writer Emmett Gienapp contributed to this story.

Contact staff writer David Cobb at or 423-757-6249.

Gallery: Snowfall Jan. 6-7, 2017

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Updated Jan. 7 at 9:45 p.m. with additional information.