Several hundred customers were affected by power outages overnight but most lost power for less than an hour, and two cars crashed into city snow plows, making one of the plows unusable for now, officials said.
There were no reports of injuries in the few minor crashes that occurred overnight.
Officials continued to urge drivers to stay off roads unless absolutely necessary. Some of them remain covered in ice, and vehicles that are required to travel, such as postal vehicles and Oak Ridge Public Works trucks, are using chains or studded tires.
Oak Ridge Electric Director Jack Suggs said the largest power outage was in an area around Montana Avenue and West Outer Drive at about 6 p.m. Monday. It affected about 440 people, but only lasted about 45 minutes, according to preliminary information, Suggs said.
There was another outage that affected about 100 people at the 700 block of Florida Avenue. It began at about 11 p.m. and lasted roughly 1.5 hours, Suggs said.
There was another 20-minute outage at about 4 a.m. on Gum Hollow Road and then one that affected commercial customers in Bethel Valley Industrial Park and on Union Valley Road. It started at about 8:30 a.m. and lasted until around 11 a.m.
Suggs said there were a few problems on the extreme west end of town and roughly 20 isolated outages that affected one or two homes, primarily when a tree sagged down and tore a service line.
He said the outages started at about 6 p.m. Monday, and the city has had a manageable number of events since then that have been fairly continuous but minor in nature.
“I recognize that when your power is off, it’s not minor,” said Suggs, who was also affected by an outage.
Still, the outages haven’t been widespread or difficult to restore, he said.
“I don’t think anyone has been off for more than a couple of hours,” he said, citing preliminary information. That’s a much shorter wait time than customers are experiencing in some other areas, including in Knoxville.
Suggs gave an educated guess that the Oak Ridge outages affected about 800 to 1,000 customers, with the vast majority of them out for less than one hour.
“We’re proud of our system…and the men and women who got our system back up,” Suggs said.
He said crews began working at about noon Monday, and the city has maintained crews continuously since then. He said the outages have caused minor to moderate impacts on the city’s electric system.
The worst of the weather-related outages is believed to be over now that the wintry mix of precipitation has stopped, but Suggs said there could be a few issues as the ice melts and frozen tree branches thaw.
Tennessee remained at a level three state of emergency Tuesday morning as state agencies worked to help stranded motorists, clear interstates and roads, and address power outages after Monday’s winter storm moved out.
“The winter precipitation has moved out of Tennessee leaving behind very cold temperatures,” the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said. “The expectation is for temperatures to not be above freezing before the weekend.”
TEMA said there have been three weather-related fatalities in the state, one in Knox County and two in Williamson County. More than 60,000 customers were without power Tuesday morning across 17 counties, with the highest outages in Bedford, Knox, and Monroe counties.
Asked about local icy roads, Oak Ridge Public Works Director Gary Cinder said main roads are in much better shape, but there is still a fair amount of ice on back roads.
“I’m afraid it’s going to stay that way for a while because there is no warming pattern coming in,” Cinder said.
The low on Thursday and Friday is forecast to be near zero, and that’s too low for salt to work on the ice. City snow plows have been spreading salt on the slushy, icy roads, but it only works if the temperature is above 20 degrees Fahrenheit, Cinder said.
Cinder echoed the advice of other officials across the region: Stay home if you can.
“I think everyone that’s been affected by this storm is in the same boat,” Cinder said.
He said the driver of one of the cars that hit a snow plow overnight was driving with a softball-sized peep hole cleared in her windshield.
“She thought she cleared the truck, but she hit it,” Cinder said.
He said the other car slid underneath a plow.
No one was hurt in either case, but one of the trucks was rear-ended, and the back end, where the salt spreader is located, was damaged. The truck is now “out of commission,” Cinder said.
“If you don’t have to go somewhere, don’t,” he said.
Snow plow crews are working 12 hours on and 12 hours off. Cinder said he doesn’t know how much salt they’ve spread so far.
Captain Robin Smith of the Oak Ridge Police Department reported that traffic has been light and the city calm.
“People are basically just staying home,” he said.
Smith said there were a few minor accidents overnight but no injuries.
He also recommended residents avoid traveling unless they have to.
“There’s no sense taking any risks right now,” Smith said.