Winter storm warning in effect for mountains, heavy snowfall possible


A winter storm warning is in effect in the mountains of East Tennessee, southwest Virginia, and western North Carolina from Friday to Saturday night, and up to 15 inches of snow is possible at elevations above 5,000 feet, forecasters said.

Snowfall of between four to eight inches is expected for locations above 2,500 feet, including Interstate 40 in North Carolina and I-26 in Unicoi County, according to the National Weather Service in Morristown. Up to 12-15 inches of snow is possible on the highest peaks above 5,000 feet, including U.S. Highway 441 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. [Read more…]

Strong to severe storms, flooding possible today

Strong to Severe Storms


Strong to severe storms and flooding are possible across the region as a band of showers and storms slowly moves east across the area, forecasters said.

A flood advisory is in effect in Oak Ridge and Clinton, among other areas, through 11:15 a.m., and a flood watch is in effect from noon to 11 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Morristown has also issued a wind advisory that applies to Oak Ridge and Clinton, among other areas. It’s in effect through 8 p.m.

The NWS said heavy rainfall of one to two inches can be expected across much of the area, and rainfall of up to three inches is possible in a few locations. The rain and storms are expected today over the southern Appalachians and eastern Tennessee Valley as a strong storm moves east from the Mississippi Valley, slowly pushing a cold front across the area. [Read more…]

NWS: Showers, thunderstorms this afternoon, evening

Showers and Thunderstorms

Image courtesy National Weather Service in Morristown

Showers and thunderstorms this afternoon and evening could lead to locally heavy rainfall and minor flooding, forecasters said.

Lightning and gusty winds are also possible, according to the National Weather Service in Morristown.

There is a 70 percent chance of thunderstorms this afternoon and tonight near Oak Ridge, with a high of 83, the NWS said.

There is a 60 percent chance of showers on Friday, with a high of 81.

The greatest chance of precipitation in the area today is late this afternoon through midnight, forecasters said.

Severe weather possible Tuesday evening

Severe Weather Outlook

Image courtesy National Weather Service in Morristown.


A line of strong to severe thunderstorms will move across the Cumberland Plateau and into East Tennessee and southwest Virginia this evening, forecasters said Tuesday.

The biggest risk from the storms is damaging straight-line winds of up to 60 mph, according to the National Weather Service in Morristown.

“Locally heavy rainfall and frequent lightning will also be possible with the strongest activity,” the NWS said.

The Weather Service issued a significant weather advisory at 7:09 p.m. for Anderson and Union counties and southern Campbell, central Morgan, and southeastern Scott counties until 8 p.m. [Read more…]

Haslam announces federal aid for 18 counties

Governor Bill Haslam

Bill Haslam

Counties receive disaster recovery funds for June flooding

NASHVILLE—Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday announced President Obama has declared 18 counties as federal disaster areas as a result of severe weather on June 5-10. State and local governments and electrical utilities spent nearly $10 million in response to and recovery from the wind damage and flash-flooding impacts.

“This federal aid will help our communities in rebuilding and recovery,” Haslam said. “State and local teams worked quickly to survey damage in more than 35 counties to determine the impact of these storms, and we are grateful for this assistance.”

The counties that will have access to federal aid include Anderson, Bledsoe, Carroll, Decatur, Henry, Hickman, Houston, Lawrence, Lewis, Madison, Marion, Maury, McNairy, Moore, Perry, Roane, Sequatchie, and Tipton. They will have access to federal assistance that provides reimbursement for 75 percent of eligible costs. A presidential disaster declaration also includes FEMA’s hazard mitigation grant program on a statewide basis.

Three fatalities were attributed to the severe weather and flooding. Two deaths occurred in Lawrence County and another in Hickman County. [Read more…]

President declares disaster for Tennessee, including Anderson, Roane

Passtime Garage Storm Damage

Passtime Garage on South Main Street in Clinton was damaged by a fast-moving storm and severe winds in early June. (Photo courtesy WYSH Radio/WGAP Radio)

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency announced Wednesday that federal disaster aid has been made available to the state of Tennessee to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding from June 5-10.

The action by President Barack Obama makes federal funding available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding in Anderson, Bledsoe, Carroll, Decatur, Henry, Hickman, Houston, Lawrence, Lewis, Madison, Marion, Maury, McNairy, Moore, Perry, Roane, Sequatchie, and Tipton counties, officials said.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide, FEMA said in a press release.

W. Michael Moore has been named as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area. Moore said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments. [Read more…]

About 1,600 lost power in Sunday storms

About 1,600 customers lost power during the two major bands of storms that ripped through Oak Ridge at around 8 p.m. and midnight Sunday night, Oak Ridge Electric Director Jack Suggs said.

The outages were concentrated around 15 distinct locations, and the east end of town was hit the hardest, Suggs said. The Oak Ridge Electric Department started working on repairs as soon as it could bring in people to help, and crews have been working continuously to restore power.

Suggs said most everyone had power restored by noon Monday. Others had had power restored earlier, some at midnight, more at 3 a.m., then still more by 4 a.m. The majority were back on by 7 a.m. Monday, and crews started “whittling away” at those who were left. [Read more…]

Tornado watch, severe storms possible Sunday evening

National Weather Service Severe Weather Threat

Image courtesy of National Weather Service in Morristown.

Note: This story was updated at 6:55 p.m. with a new tornado warning.

A tornado watch is in effect for the northern half of East Tennessee—including Anderson, Knox, and Roane counties—through 8 p.m., and there is a chance of severe thunderstorms near Oak Ridge through midnight, the National Weather Service said.

Update: A tornado warning was issued at 6:26 p.m. for southern Campbell County, Scott County, and northwestern Anderson County. It’s in effect through 7:15 p.m., and it applies to Lake City and Rosedale in Anderson County, as well as LaFollette, Caryville, and Jacksboro in Campbell County, and Huntsville and Oneida in Scott County. (The tornado warning has since been extended to 7:45 p.m.)

Radar showed a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado. The dangerous storm was located over Helenwood, about eight miles south of Oneida, and moving southeast at 35 mph, the NWS said.

People in the affected areas should take cover now, moving to a basement or interior room on the lowest floor of sturdy building. Windows should be avoided. If in a mobile home or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris. [Read more…]

Guest column: Anderson communications center very busy during Tuesday storm

Anderson County Commission and Mark Lucas

Anderson County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Mark Lucas is pictured above at right during a special County Commission meeting in November. Also pictured are Anderson County Commissioners Rick Meredith, center, and Jerry White.

To All:

(Tuesday) evening was very, very busy. From 3 p.m. until 11 p.m., our communications center received 589 telephone calls, of which 143 were on 911. The overwhelming number of calls were between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., when 365 calls came to our dispatch center. Of these 365 calls, 109 were on 911.

Comparing to last Tuesday from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m., we received 156 total telephone calls, of which 20 were on 911. The two-hour period from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. last week was only 41 total calls, of which five were on 911.

For the entire shift from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m., that was a 288 percent increase. For the two hours from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m., the increase was 790 percent.

We had four communications officers working (Tuesday) when the storm hit. A fifth came into work on her own to help out. Many of these 911 and non-emergency calls required dispatching of emergency personnel from law enforcement, fire, or EMS. Others required notifications to the state and county highway departments and the utility companies. It was non-stop for hours. [Read more…]

WYSH: Storm damage follow-up; EF0 tornado confirmed in Kingston

Mike Marsh Home Storm Damage

One of several pictures showing the storm damage Tuesday to the home of Mike and Wanda Marsh on Timbercrest Drive in Oak Ridge. (Photo courtesy Mike Marsh)


Information from WYSH Radio

The National Weather Service has confirmed the powerful storms that rolled through the area on Tuesday included an embedded tornado in Kingston.

Officials with the NWS office in Morristown assessed the damage and said an EF-0 tornado touched down along 3rd Street in Kingston. The winds of an EF-0 tornado are around 65-85 miles per hour.

The NWS said the widespread damage throughout East Tennessee was almost entirely from straight-line winds and down-bursts. Kingston is the only site suspected of sustaining tornado damage.

The Weather Service says straight-line winds estimated at 80 mph packed a destructive punch in Clinton, which appeared to bear the brunt of the damage from Tuesday’s severe weather. [Read more…]

Oak Ridge: 4,000 lose power, 70 homes damaged

Wadsworth Circle Home Tree

One of two trees that fell on a home on West Wadsworth Circle. The second tree, visible on the ground in the background, punched a hole in the roof and displaced a mother, grandmother, and two children.


Note: This story was last updated at 2:40 p.m.

Roughly 4,000 customers lost power in the Tuesday evening storm, and about 70 damaged homes will require repairs by an electrician before power can be restored, an Oak Ridge official said Wednesday morning.

Oak Ridge Electric Director Jack Suggs said he doesn’t recall ever having 70 homes damaged in one storm, although the Electric Department has experienced worse storms when many utility poles were broken. But the brief, fierce Tuesday storm, which brought severe winds and driving rain, was significant in terms of its damage to homes and its far-reaching nature, from Blair Road on the west end of town to east Oak Ridge and beyond—into Clinton and Anderson County, Suggs said.

“It was pretty widespread,” Suggs said.

Janet Bowker on Plymouth Circle and Storm Debris

Janet Bowker, left, walks through debris on Plymouth Circle in front of her home, where a tree fell into her bedroom during the Tuesday evening storm. Her home is at right but not visible in this picture. There were no injuries, but Bowker does not have power now.


The storm, which ripped through Oak Ridge at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, left a trail of debris: scattered branches and limbs, broken trees, fallen power lines, and damaged buildings and homes. It also triggered a flood of calls to the city’s 911 call dispatch center.

About 500 customers remained without power around noon Wednesday, including the 70 damaged homes. [Read more…]

Another 12 hours or so to restore power, Electric Department says

Willow Run Fallen Tree

A giant tree fell at Willow Run Apartments in Clinton and wrecked the fence at the basketball and tennis courts. (Photo courtesy Jim Harris)


It could take another 12-13 hours to restore power across Oak Ridge after the severe Tuesday evening storms, the Oak Ridge Electric Department said on Twitter at roughly 9:30 p.m. Tuesday.

That would presumably mean that some customers might not have electricity restored until sometime Wednesday morning.

The Electric Department said the storms knocked down many trees and limbs. Crews have responded to fallen trees, power outages, dangling utility lines, and other problems across town since the short, fierce storm ripped through Oak Ridge and Anderson County at about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Electric Department warned residents to stay away from power lines on the ground.

At about 10 p.m. Tuesday, Oak Ridge workers were out cutting up trees and restoring power on Jefferson Avenue.  A few miles away off Pennsylvania Avenue, Plymouth Circle was blocked to traffic, and it appeared that there was a utility line on the road blocked by orange traffic cones. [Read more…]