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UPDATED: State declares emergency

Sara McManamy-Johnson sjohnson@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 17, 2015 at 5:34 PM

The State declared an official state of emergency Thursday afternoon as an arctic cold front brings threats of severe winter weather this weekend.

“Right now, we in Wilson County are not expected to see the freezing part of the system until late Friday afternoon and night,” said Capt. Steve Spencer of Wilson Emergency Management Agency. “That does not mean things can't change during the day Friday, but for now the freeze line is to stay to our west until around 6 p.m.”

According to a statement from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, the first round of severe weather is expected Friday to bring anywhere from a quarter-inch to one-third of an inch of ice, mostly in northwestern areas.

Forecasters expect the second round to begin Saturday evening and last into Sunday morning.

According to TEMA, the second round will likely be more widespread throughout Middle Tennessee and could bring between one-tenth to two-tenths of an inch of ice.

“Round two will be more significant and affect us Saturday night and Sunday morning,” said Spencer. “With round two we will have the potential for accumulating ice up to about one-tenth of an inch, which could cause some issues but nothing major. Sunday morning travel to church could be affected by round two until the daytime temperatures melt it.”

The State’s Emergency Operations Center will be staffed in 12-hour shifts and will coordinate with the Departments of Health, Human Services, Military, Safety and Transportation.

The State is also giving water and blankets to Highway Patrol and Department of Transportation staff.

A TDOT spokesperson said the department is stocked and ready to clear roadways of ice and snow this season. Over the last several weeks, salt supplies have been replenished in all 95 counties, and crews have readied snow plows and brine trucks for the winter season.

“We have more than a thousand employees who are trained in snow and ice removal, and they are ready to mobilize when winter weather hits Tennessee,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “Clearing our highways as quickly as possible is essential in our efforts to keep motorists safe and keep traffic moving.”

TDOT currently has more than 235,000 tons of salt and more than 1.8 million gallons of salt brine ready for use.  Salt brine is a salt and water mixture used as a pre-treatment for roads before a winter storm or to melt snow on roadways when temperatures are hovering around the freezing mark.

Salt is applied to roads once snow has started to accumulate.  

When snow hits Tennessee, TDOT ice and snow removal teams focus first on clearing interstates and heavily traveled state routes and will specifically target areas vulnerable to freezing, such as hills, curves, ramps, bridges and interchanges.

During prolonged weather events, crews may have to clear roadways repeatedly.

Drivers can find out about road conditions several ways: online, at tn.gov/tdot/tdotsmartway; by phone, at the 5-1-1 motorist information line; on Twitter, following @TN511; on TDOT’s SmartWay mobile app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

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