Weather: Schools, courts, offices closed; Wildcats sectional game now on Tuesday

Note: This story was last updated at 1:20 p.m.

Schools in Anderson County, Clinton, and Knox and Morgan counties are closed today (Monday) because of weather conditions and possible icing. And the Wildcats boys’ basketball sectional game in Kingsport, featuring Oak Ridge and Dobyns-Bennett, has been postponed to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Roane State Community College is closing its Campbell, Cumberland, Morgan, Scott, and Fentress county campuses due to icy roads. The campuses in Oak Ridge and Loudon, Knox, and Roane counties are open, but classes at the Clinton facility have been canceled.

The afternoon docket for the Anderson County General Sessions Court in Clinton has been canceled starting at 1 p.m. The afternoon docket for Anderson County Juvenile Court has also been canceled. And the Anderson County Courthouse closed at 1 p.m.

Tennessee officials said state offices will be closed the remainder of the day statewide, but mission-critical state employees will report to work as usual. [Read more...]

Environmentalists, others to challenge Fleischmann, Duncan on global warming

Volunteers have organized two press conferences today (Thursday) to challenge Tennessee congressmen John Duncan and Chuck Fleischmann to accept and then work to stop human-caused climate change, a press release said.

The first press conference is at 11 a.m. Thursday at Duncan’s Knoxville office at the Howard H. Baker Jr. U.S. Courthouse. The second is at 2 p.m. in front of the Bull Run Fossil Plant in Claxton.

The press release said the press conferences will include prominent business people, clergy, a fossil fuel technologist, a child advocate, environmentalists, educators, and students. [Read more...]

Former energy secretary compares global warming path to Russian roulette, with gun pointed at knee

Steven Chu on Global Warming at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

During a lecture at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, former Energy Secretary Steven Chu compares global warming to Russian roulette, but with the gun pointed at a kneecap.

Former Energy Secretary Steven Chu sounded an alarm about global warming during a visit to Oak Ridge last week, comparing the current path to Russian roulette, but with the gun pointed at a knee—and with more bullets added each decade.

“Every decade you put in a bullet and you pull the trigger,” said Chu, a Stanford University professor who won a Nobel Prize in physics in 1997. “After four or five more decades, it could be fully loaded.”

The longest-serving secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, Chu gave a lecture at Oak Ridge National Laboratory on Wednesday.

The globe is warming, and we might not feel the full effect of the greenhouse gases emitted by humans for another half-century or more, after the ocean has been warmed, Chu said.

“We’re going to glide to a temperature that we’re not really sure about, but I can guarantee that it’s warmer than it is today because of that ocean,” Chu said. “The damage that we’ve done today will not be seen for at least 50 years.” [Read more...]

Fairly quiet during last week’s snow, but 911 calls spike in Anderson County

911 calls to the communications center at the Anderson County Sheriff’s Department increased significantly during last week’s snow.

The Sheriff’s Department said the communications center received 429 telephone calls from 7 p.m. Wednesday to 7 p.m. Friday, and 77 of those were 911 calls. That compares to 390 calls, with 51 of those on 911 lines, during the same time period a week earlier. [Read more...]

Weather: Closings, delays for Friday

Anderson County Schools will be closed Friday because of the weather. The Central Office will follow the inclement weather procedure.

Oak Ridge Schools will open two hours late to allow any ice that forms overnight to melt. The schools will not serve breakfast Friday morning, so parents should make sure their children eat before coming to school.

A 10 a.m. starting time has been authorized for employees of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office, Oak Ridge Environmental Management Site Office, Oak Ridge Nuclear Energy Site Office, Office of Scientific and Technical Information, and Oak Ridge DOE Inspector General, with unscheduled leave (previously referred to as liberal leave) authorized if needed.

Normal hours are in effect for Oak Ridge National Laboratory Site Office employees, with unscheduled leave (previously referred to as liberal leave) authorized if needed.

More information will be added as it becomes available.

Pictures: Snow day in Oak Ridge

Snow at South Illinois Avenue and Centrifuge Way

There are few cars on South Illinois Avenue near Centrifuge Way after a winter storm dumped eight to 12 inches of snow on parts of Oak Ridge and Anderson County.

More than eight inches of snow fell in parts of Oak Ridge between Wednesday night and Thursday morning as a major winter storm hit the Southeast. There were reports that up to 12 inches fell in parts of Anderson County. A National Weather Service meteorologist said it was the most snow in one storm in about 15 years.

Here are photos from across Oak Ridge on Thursday morning as some residents and workers cleared roads or shoveled sidewalks and driveways, while others enjoyed the day off by sledding at Blankenship Field.

Sledding at Blankenship Field

Adults and children enjoy sledding at Blankenship Field on Thursday.

[Read more...]

Most snow in about 15 years, Weather Service says

Snowman at Blankenship Field

Kids build a snowman at Blankenship Field on Thursday morning after more than eight inches of snow fell in Oak Ridge. From left are Killian Fillmore, Andrew Bivens, Gavin Hensley, and Liam Hensley.

Note: This story was last updated at 5:02 p.m. with more photos.

More than eight inches of snow fell in parts of Oak Ridge between Wednesday night and Thursday morning as a major winter storm hit the Southeast, and there were reports of as much as 10 to 12 inches in parts of Anderson County. A meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Morristown said it’s the most snow in East Tennessee in more than a decade.

“It’s been about 15 years since we’ve had a snow like this,” NWS Meteorologist David Hotz said. “This is definitely one of the best ones we’ve had in quite a while.”

The last snowfall of a similar magnitude that he could recall was in either 1998 or 1999.

Other big snowfalls include the historic 1993 storm and a winter storm in 1996 that dumped 15 to 17 inches.

More than eight inches of snow fell in parts of Oak Ridge between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and there were reports of as much as 10 to 12 inches in parts of Anderson County. A meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Morristown said it's the most snow in East Tennessee in more than a decade.  "It's been about 15 years since we've had a snow like this," NWS Meteorologist David Hotz said. “This is definitely one of the best ones we’ve had in quite a while.”  The last snowfall of a similar magnitude that he could recall was in either 1998 or 1999.  Other big snowfalls include the historic 1993 storm and a 1996 storm that dumped 15 to 17 inches.  The wet, heavy snow that started falling in Oak Ridge at about 7 p.m. Wednesday—it was the second round of snow that day—continued into Thursday morning. But with temperatures rising Thursday morning and the sun coming out, much of the snow was quickly melting.  Still, many roads, particularly side streets, still had slush on them, and there were a few slippery spots.  Crews from the Oak Ridge Public Works Department worked all day Wednesday, through the night, and into Thursday morning. They put down two layers of brine, or highly salted water, before the snow started and switched to salt trucks and snow plows once the snow started falling.  Public Works Department Gary Cinder said there were no major problems.  “It’s been a calm event," Cinder said. "It was a heavy snow. It was deep enough that we could push it, and it was wet enough that it would slide easily. It wasn’t sticking because of the brine.”  It might have helped that many people stayed off the roads as many offices, schools, and businesses closed early on Wednesday—if they hadn't already been closed for the day—and remained closed on Thursday.  Cinder said the Public Works Department was able to keep the main streets relatively clear. At times, the snow was heavy enough, though, that the snow was recovering roads that crews had already plowed.  “A lot of times, they just had to go back and forth," Cinder said.  Cinder said there were a few trees down and a few isolated power outages.  In Anderson County, Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Mark Lucas said the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the Anderson County Highway Department were working to clear the snow, but roads remained hazardous.  "Travel is not advised," Lucas said in a Thursday morning e-mail. "We had several reports of minor accidents with cars off in the ditch or stuck in the snow, but since the snow didn't begin to fall until the evening hours, traffic was light. There also have been a few trees down as well."  Lucas said there were also some power outages overnight, but it appeared that the Clinton Utilities Board had most of those restored except for a few isolated areas.  He advised residents to check with CUB for details and said power outages can be viewed at http://outage.clintonub.com.  Deputies went to their "snow plan" Wednesday evening and are patrolling the county in four-wheel-drive vehicles.  "We are responding only to accidents with injury or those that are a significant traffic hazard," Lucas said.  Cinder said Oak Ridge has eight trucks outfitted with snow plows in the front and salt spreaders in the back. The city has two bins that, when fully loaded, can store 2,400 tons of salt. Oak Ridge has plenty of salt for the rest of the winter, he said.  There about 220 miles of roads in Oak Ridge and crews focus first on main streets and state routes such as Illinois Avenue and Oak Ridge Turnpike, then collector city streets such as Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Florida avenues, and then neighborhood side—if the snow lasts long enough and is heavy enough. The number of lane miles that crews have to take care of is double the road mileage because crews have to go up streets in one lane and then back down them in another.  Hotz, the meteorologist, said water on East Tennessee roads could re-freeze tonight as the temperature drops into the 20s and that could cause problems, including black ice, especially on secondary streets that still have slush. Drivers should use caution when driving tonight, especially on secondary streets, although well-traveled roads and interstates should be in good shape, Hotz said.  He said there could be another smaller storm system late Friday and Friday night. It could start with rain that changes over to snow, and there could be some light accumulations in East Tennessee valleys, but more snow is expected in the mountains, Hotz said.  The temperature is expected to warm back up into the 50s and lower 60s next week, Hotz said.

Crews from the Oak Ridge Public Works Department worked all day Wednesday and through the night into Thursday to clear roads, including South Illinois Avenue, as more than eight inches of snow fell in parts of the city.

The wet, heavy snow that started falling in Oak Ridge at about 7 p.m. Wednesday—it was the second round of snow that day—continued into Thursday morning. But with temperatures rising Thursday morning and the sun coming out, much of the snow was quickly melting.

Still, many roads, particularly side streets, still had slush on them, and there were a few slippery spots.

Crews from the Oak Ridge Public Works Department worked all day Wednesday, through the night, and into Thursday morning. They put down two layers of brine, or highly salted water, before the snow started and switched to salt trucks and snow plows once the snow started falling.

Public Works Department Gary Cinder said there were no major problems. [Read more...]

Schools, govt. offices, businesses, DOE offices, Y-12 closed Thursday

Snowman at Blankenship Field

Children build a snowman at Blankenship Field on Thursday morning. From left are Killian Fillmore, Andrew Bivens, Gavin Hensley, and Liam Hensley.

Note: This story was last updated at 10:29 a.m.

Oak Ridge Schools are closed Thursday, and so is the Y-12 National Security Complex.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office is also closed as are the Oak Ridge Environmental Management Site Office, Nuclear Energy Site Office, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Site Office, Office of Scientific and Technical Information, and Oak Ridge DOE Inspector General offices. Decisions about reporting instructions for Friday will be made later Thursday or early Friday morning. Employees should check the weather hotline and Facebook later for updates for Friday.

Schools in Clinton and Anderson, Knox, Loudon, Morgan, and Roane counties are also closed. So are Anderson County government offices and courts. And so are many businesses.

City of Oak Ridge offices will open at noon Thursday.

Waste Connections, Inc. will not be picking up refuse or recyclables on Thursday because of the weather conditions.  Thursday’s routes will be picked up on Friday, Feb. 14, and Fridays on Saturday, Feb. 15.  Please have all refuse and recyclables out by 7 a.m. For additional information you can contact Waste Connections Inc. at (865) 482-3656 or visit www.WasteConnectionsTn.com. [Read more...]

Weather Service warns of dangerous driving conditions as second round of snow starts

Snowfall at Oak Ridge Turnpike and Rutgers Avenue

Heavy snow falls in Oak Ridge at about 7 p.m. Wednesday, and weather officials are warning of extremely dangerous driving conditions across the region.

The National Weather Service in Morristown warned of extremely dangerous driving conditions across the region on Wednesday night as a second round of snow started in Oak Ridge.

The 7 p.m. evening snow followed an earlier round of snow at about 2 p.m. Wednesday.

The Weather Service said the snow and subfreezing temperatures in the region will create slick roads and travel concerns across the region.

“Roads will become extremely treacherous overnight as snow and ice continues to accumulate and build up,” forecasters said. [Read more...]

Roane State’s ‘Death by Chocolate’ with Bill Bass postponed due to weather

Bill Bass

Bill Bass

Roane State Community College’s Death by Chocolate fundraiser featuring Body Farm founder Bill Bass has been postponed to Feb. 20 due to weather.

The event, which had been scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 13, will now be held from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20, in the O’Brien Theatre at the Roane County campus in Harriman. The chocolate tasting, featuring dozens of samples from area businesses, begins at 6 p.m. The lecture by Dr. Bass will start at 7 p.m. Proceeds from ticket sales will be used for student scholarships.

Bass founded the University of Tennessee’s Anthropological Research Facility, an outdoor laboratory dedicated to the study of human decomposition. The facility, often referred to as the “Body Farm,” was featured prominently in the novel “The Body Farm” by best-selling author Patricia Cornwell. [Read more...]

Oak Ridge Schools dismissing early

Oak Ridge Schools will dismiss early today (Wednesday) because of the incoming winter storm, a press release said.

Here are the dismissal times:

  • Oak Ridge High School CDC and Jefferson Middle School/Robertsville Middle School CDC dismissed at 10:45 a.m.
  • ORHS and JMS/RMS dismissed at 11:05 a.m.
  • Elementary CDC dismissed at 11:45 a.m.
  • PreSchool dismissed at 11:50 a.m.
  • Elementary schools dismissed at 12:45 a.m.
  • Alternative dismissed as soon as a bus can get there between 12:05-12:15 a.m.

Weather: Schools, government offices, other closings

Anderson County Courthouse

The Anderson County Courthouse in Clinton, pictured above, closed early Wednesday because of the winter storm hitting the Southeast.

Note: This story was last updated at 8:25 p.m. Feb. 12.

Schools in Clinton and Anderson, Knox, Loudon, Morgan, and Roane counties will be closed Wednesday due to weather.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, program at 320 Robertsville Road in Oak Ridge will also be closed Wednesday due to the threat of a major winter storm.

Oak Ridge Schools dismissed early on Wednesday. The Anderson County Courthouse closed at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Anderson County Schools and its Central Office will be closed Thursday. [Read more...]