Some people in the Chattanooga area could be waking up to snow Tuesday morning.
A winter storm is sweeping across the East Coast, with up to 4 inches expected locally. And even once the precipitation ends, the cold weather will linger the rest of the week.
WRCB Channel 3 meteorologist David Karnes on Monday said lows Wednesday and Thursday will plunge into the teens, with a highs only reaching 36 on Wednesday and 42 on Thursday.
The bitter cold likely will boost the Tennessee Valley Authority's power demand early Thursday to around 30,000 megawatts or more, but TVA isn't expecting any problems meeting the demand, agency spokesman Scott Fielder said.
Tuesday's threat of snow led to the rescheduling of many high school events and the cancellation of other events, including a two-day delay from Tuesday to Thursday for the Cleveland/Bradley County Chamber of Commerce annual meeting.
In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp said state offices in more than 30 counties in the northern part of the state would be closed Tuesday, including those in the Atlanta area. The closures include offices in Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Gordon, Murray, Walker and Whitfield counties.
As the chill settles over the region, here's what you need to know to prepare:
STAY OFF THE ROADS
Roads were treated Monday with brine, and Tuesday morning they'll be treated with salt and sand.
About 20 Chattanooga Public Works trucks were expected to be loaded up salt and sand at 4 a.m. Tuesday morning.
"If people really do feel unsafe or are unsure about the roads and whether or not they feel comfortable driving, it's just best to stay home," said Colline Ferrier, spokeswoman for Public Works. "Everyone should just stay safe. It's better to be cautious than not."
Also, Public Works' fleet division is ensuring all city vehicles, including the fire and police departments, have what they need in case it's a full-on ice event.
"It's always better to be prepared," Ferrier said.
People can check the Public Works Twitter @CHAPublicWorks for updates.
HOW LONG WILL SCHOOL BE OUT?
Schools across the region will be closed Tuesday — and possibly Wednesday.
So far, students have missed only two days due to weather, Hamilton County Schools spokesman Tim Hensley said last week. The district has eight school closing days built into its calendar.
"[We're] still in good shape," he said, with six more days available before officials have to start looking at scheduling make-up days.
Hensley said a variety of factors go into the decision to close schools including forecasts from the National Weather Service, road conditions and recommendations from Hamilton County's Emergency Services and feedback from district officials.
"It all comes down to if we can have buses out on the road and if we can get students and people to and from school safely," he said.
District officials also will closely monitor weather and roads Tuesday. Some district personnel might drive out to "known trouble spots" as the district decides if schools will remain closed Wednesday, Hensley said.
For the most up-to-date closing and delays, visit timesfreepress.com.
PROTECT YOUR PIPES
The frigid temps could mean bad news for your pipes.
In 2018, more than 800 claims totaling more than $15 million were paid in Tennessee related to winter weather losses such as frozen pipes, according to State Farm.
"Extreme weather events like subfreezing temperatures for an extended period can cause pipes in vulnerable areas to freeze and burst and result in costly damage," said Tennessee American Water Director of Operations Kevin Kruchinski in a statement. "By taking the proper preventive steps, customers can avoid worrying about frozen pipes and making expensive repairs to damaged plumbing inside and outside of the home."
Experts have these tips:
* A trickle of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep pipes from freezing, according to State Farm. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall.
* Keep the thermostat set at the same temperature both day and night.
* Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to un-insulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
If you plan on traveling:
* Set the thermostat in your house no lower than 55 degrees.
* Ask a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it's warm enough to prevent freezing.
* Shut off and drain the water system.
And if your pipes do freeze?
* Shut off the water immediately, says Tennessee American Water. Don't attempt to thaw pipes without first turning off the main shut-off valve.
* Thaw pipes with warm air. You can melt the frozen water in the pipe by warming air around it with a hair dryer or space heater. Be sure not to leave the space heater unattended and avoid the use of kerosene or open flames.
* Be careful turning water back on. Once pipes are thawed, slowly turn the water back on and double check for any additional cracks and leaks.
KEEP THOSE PETS WARM
Winter weather poses also a threat to furry family members. The American Kennel Club highlights some things to be careful of in frigid times:
* Antifreeze is extremely toxic and can be deadly even in small amounts. It tastes sweet but can cause severe kidney damage and failure. Seek veterinary care immediately if you suspect that your pet has ingested any.
* The snow- and ice-melting products used on sidewalks, driveways and roads are among the biggest threats to your dog's paw pads. And ice-melting products aren't just a threat to feet — if your dog licks his paws or gets into a container of de-icer, it might affect his digestive system, causing drooling, vomiting or diarrhea. To prevent your dog from ingesting de-icer and to reduce irritation to his paw pads, wipe off his paws with a warm, damp towel immediately after coming in, or dunk his paws in a small bucket of water and thoroughly dry them. A pair of well-fitted dog boots is the best protection from the elements.
* Young, old, small or health-compromised pets have lower tolerance for very cold weather. Consider well-fitted sweaters, coats or boots for dogs that may need them, but never leave them on unattended.
* Don't leave pets unattended outdoors for an extended time. If a dog must be outside for any period of time, make sure there is adequate protection from the wind, have their beds elevated off the ground and make sure there is good bedding insulation, such as straw or cedar shavings.
* Pets get lost in winter more than any other time of year. After heavy snowfalls, dogs may become disoriented due to the inability to find landmarks or smell certain scents. Make sure they are in a secure area or on a leash.
* There are dangers for cats, too. Cats love to find a warm place to sleep and sometimes that place is under the hood of your car. Consider knocking on the hood or honk the horn before starting the car.
PROTECT YOUR PLANTS
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's hardiness map, most of the Chattanooga area falls under zone 7, which means most plants are good down to 5 degrees. But if you're worried about those bulbs you planted in the fall, here are some tips from the University of California:
* Water the soil thoroughly around plants (except around succulents such as cactus) because wet soil holds heat better than dry, protecting roots.
* Sheets, dropcloths, blankets and plastic sheets can be used as covers, but make sure to use stakes to keep the material, especially if it's plastic, from touching foliage. Remove the coverings when temperatures go up the next day.
* For short periods of cold, say overnight only, low-growing plants can be covered with mulch or straw. Like the material coverings, remove the mulch the next day when temperatures rise.
* Local nurseries should have anti-transpirant sprays to put on foliage to seal in moisture. One application can protect up to three months.
* Cluster container plants close together, preferably in a sheltered spot close to the house, that will hold heat.
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