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Storm shuts down schools across region

Staff • Jan 17, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Susan Arnold along with her children Hunter, left, Tanner, center, and Dawson build a snow fort Thursday. Photo by David Grace.


Kingsport crews hit the streets at first sign of snowflakes

Several inches of snow that fell on the region early Thursday resulted in canceled schools and treacherous roads.

Meteorologist Greg Cole of the National Weather Service in Morristown said forecast models were fairly accurate Thursday, with some localities getting the predicted 1 to 3 inches of snow.

Portions of Scott County recorded the most snow, with up to 5 inches falling.

Some areas of Wise County near the town of Wise and in the Castlewood area of Russell County got the next highest total, with 4 inches of snow officially reported to the Morristown weather center.

Other official levels included:

• Sullivan County — 1 to 2½ inches.

• Unicoi County — 1 to 4 inches.

• Washington County, Va. — 2 inches.

• Johnson County — 2 to 4 inches.

• Lee County — 1 inch or less.

Cole said current weather models from NWS computers are still listing a 50 percent chance of snow for Saturday, but an estimate of coverage was not yet available on Thursday.

“We do know that it will be chilly this weekend, with temperatures down into the single digits possibly Saturday night,” said Cole. “Cloud cover should clear out on Sunday, but it will remain cold.”

For the year, climate data generated at Tri-Cities Regional Airport shows 3.7 inches of snow has fallen since Jan. 1.

Most of the schools in the region, including East Tennessee State University, canceled classes for the day.

Sullivan County Director of Schools Glenn Arwood said the school system has a committee made up of staff members who are assigned various areas of the county. Those committee members venture out on the roads starting at around 4 a.m. to check conditions. They then report their findings back to Arwood, and the decision on any schedule changes — implementing a one- or two-hour delay or closing schools — is made as soon as possible.

It’s imperative, Arwood said, that the decision on schedule changes be made as early as possible in order to notify the media and bus drivers, and so that parents can make child care arrangements. In some cases, such as an instance of very heavy snow, Arwood said the choice to call off school can be made as early as the night before.

“This morning (Thursday) was kind of an easy choice,” Arwood said. “We saw all roads covered, and it was still snowing. In the decision process, all these people (committee members) go out to their areas. We assess that area. They all call me. We look at the information available to us — not only the weather forecast, but the weather bureau in Morristown and also the sheriff’s department.

“We go into these decisions with a very open mind, and the only thing that we ever consider is the safety of that child.”

Information on school closing can be found on system Web sites. For Kingsport City Schools information visit www.k12k.com. For Sullivan County Schools visit www.scde.k12.tn.us.

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