EMA director urges public to prepare for worst with predicted weekend storm

Jeff Bobo • Dec 7, 2018 at 8:26 AM

ROGERSVILLE — It's still too early to predict exactly how hard an approaching winter storm will hit Northeast Tennessee this weekend, but one local official is urging citizens to get prepared for the worst now while they can.

As of Thursday evening, the National Weather Service in Morristown was predicting the arrival of a severe winter storm in this region beginning Saturday night and continuing through Monday night.

Knoxville is predicted to receive only about a half inch of snow, and Morristown 1 to 2 inches.

But the farther up the I-81 corridor you travel, the worse the prediction.

The southern halves of Hawkins and Greene counties may see 3 to 4 inches of snow, while Sullivan and Washington counties — as well as Hawkins County east of Rogersville — may be in for 5 to 6 inches.

Clinch Mountain in northern Hawkins County, as well as much of Southwest Virginia, could see 7 to 8 inches, while the area surrounding Wise is listed at 9 to 10 inches.

We've seen storm predictions like this before that have fallen short of expectations. Hawkins County Emergency Management Agency director Gary Murrell noted, however, that it's never a bad idea to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

"I can’t stress enough how important it is to pay attention to the weather," Murrell said. "I know sometimes it's hard to do that, but they need to on this one. This could be a wet snow event, it could be an ice event, and it can hurt us either way. We're talking about the potential for power outages, fallen trees, impassable roadways — and this storm might last a couple of days, so folks need to be ready for that."

He added, "Don't wait until the weather starts to decide you need flashlight batteries, groceries, fuel for a heater and things like that. The ice might happen, and if you’re out on the road when that happens you can find yourself in serious trouble. We've got two days before this storm is supposed to hit so that should be enough time to get ready."

He added, "Also take this opportunity to check on your family, especially the elders and people who live out in remote, rural areas. And make sure you take care of your pets."

Even if this storm isn't as bad as predicted, Murrell noted that this is just the beginning of winter. Stocking up on flashlight batteries, canned food, emergency fuel and other necessities for weathering a winter storm may still be needed in the coming months.

"The more prepared you are now, the better it will be for everyone," Murrell added. "We want you to call 911 if you need help, but a little preparation can go a long way. If we don't have to send emergency responders out to help you, that's manpower and resources that can be directed at other emergencies."

Murrell also cautioned residents to make sure they vent their home if they use kerosene or propane heat. Also, don’t place any space heaters near furniture or other flammable items.

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