Note: This story was updated at 10 a.m. Jan. 22.
Tennessee officials declared a state of emergency on Thursday due to the weather forecasts of a major winter weather system expected to move into West Tennessee late Thursday evening and overnight, and gradually cross the entire state through Saturday.
State officials called it a Level III State of Emergency. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency made the recommendation for a State of Emergency to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam on Thursday afternoon. State officials activated the Tennessee Emergency Management Plan.
A Level 3-Declaration of State Emergency describes an event or period when a serious emergency has occurred or the situation is deteriorating rapidly, and public warnings are being issued. There are five levels in the declaration of state emergencies. They range from normal operations to catastrophic disasters.
On Friday morning, Tennessee officials announced that state offices will be closed Friday due to severe weather.
Here is more information from a press release:
The second winter weather system of the year is bringing with it threats of freezing rain, sleet, snow, and high winds, which may create blizzard-like conditions in some areas.
The possible, critical impacts from this weather system may lead to stranded motorists, power outages, and people needing shelter.
The State Emergency Operations Center in Nashville will have key TEMA staff and state agency partners monitoring the situation, include=ing the Tennessee Departments of Health, Human Services, Military, and Transportation, and Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Also, TEMA has made contact with resources that may be needed with the potential for treacherous road conditions, including the American Red Cross, Tennessee State Parks, Tennessee Division of Forestry, and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
TEMA’s regional offices in Jackson, Nashville, and Knoxville are making staffing preparations for their Regional Coordination Centers, or RCCs, that will include state agency partners.
When activated, the RCCs will be a point of contact to assist counties with any needs they report and to gather situational information for any response coordination. Each RCC is checking inventory of blankets, heater meals, and water to fulfill any requests from counties or state agencies for these resources.
The American Red Cross is currently putting shelter staff and volunteers on alert and is placing key shelter locations along interstates on standby.
REGION-BY-REGION TIMING AND FORECASTS
Timing: Early Friday morning expect snowfall in the northern part of the western region with rain in the south. From Friday through Saturday, expect a rain and snow mix. The wintry mix should taper off beginning Saturday morning.
Temps: High 37, low 13
Totals: 3” to 5” of snow possible with locally higher amounts possible, especially along the Kentucky border
Timing: Snow falling around 6 a.m. Central time Friday in the northwest corner of Middle Tennessee, impacting Clarksville and Dover with rain along the Alabama border. Expect snow falling around 4 p.m. Central time Friday and through the evening and overnight before tapering off Saturday.
Temps: High 41, low 17
Totals: 1” to 3” of snow possible, possibly 3” to 6” of snow accumulation along the Kentucky border
Timing: Freezing rain possible tonight (Thursday night) in the northwest part of the East Tennessee region, with snowfall moving into the area Friday evening. On Friday night, the East Tennessee region can expect snowfall in the north part of the area, with rain falling south in the region.
Temps: 42 high, 18 low
Totals: Snow accumulation totals vary from 1” to 3” in the Chattanooga area with predictions of 8” to 12” in the Tri-Cities area, and possibly higher amounts in the upper elevations of the Tennessee mountains.
This is a very unpredictable weather system and the timing and precipitation amounts could change. Be prepared for changing weather and road conditions by monitoring local weather forecasts closely.
• Be sure you have adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
• Have sufficient heating fuel for your home.
• Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
• Bring pets and companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
• If pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
• Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.
• If you go outside, watch for signs of frostbite (loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities) and hypothermia (uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion).
• Seek warm shelter and medical treatment immediately for frostbite and hypothermia symptoms.
ON THE ROAD
• Have a winter safety kit in your car with water, food, first aid supplies, blankets, gloves, heavy boots, food, flashlight, extra batteries, and warning lights or flares.
• Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
• Call *THP (*847) if you get stranded to be connected to the closest Tennessee Highway Patrol dispatch location.
• Call 511 for traffic information from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
• Monitor local radio and television broadcasts, and NOAA Weather Radio, for updates on weather forecasts and conditions.
• Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for winter weather watches and warnings.
• Monitor local radio and television stations for updates on weather and road conditions.
• Download the ReadyTN smartphone app to get weather, road conditions, and emergency preparedness information on your smartphone.
TEMA’s mission is to coordinate preparedness, response and recovery from man-made, natural and technological hazards in a professional and efficient manner in concert with our stakeholders.
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