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Thousands remain without power as area digs out from snowstorm

Wes Bunch • Jan 18, 2013 at 11:28 AM

KINGSPORT — Clear skies and warmer temperatures returned to Northeast Tennessee Friday after a winter storm covered the region with anywhere from 6 inches to a foot of snow the night before and left thousands without power.

According to Appalachian Power, just over 6,800 residents in Tennessee — including 5,425 in Sullivan County and 1,411 in Hawkins County — were still without electricity as of 5:30 p.m. on Friday.

Those numbers were down from a peak of 14,398 residents who were without power in Tennessee Thursday night and Friday morning.

Appalachian Power posted on its Twitter account Friday evening that power should be fully restored to its customers in Sullivan and Hawkins counties Monday night.

An estimated 30,000 customers in Tennessee and West Virginia, had their power restored as of Friday evening.

Appalachian Power said it had more than 3,350 line and support personnel working to repair the outages.

In addition to knocking out power for many residents, the snowfall — which measured six inches in parts of Kingsport and Sullivan County — also caused problems for motorists thanks to slick roadways.

Kingsport’s Streets and Sanitation Department continued to work throughout the night and day on Friday with Public Works Director Ryan McReynolds saying overall the roads in Kingsport are in good condition.

However, with freezing temperatures, McReynolds warned motorists to watch for black ice on the roads and re-freezing slush throughout the night. Crews were cleaning up behind tree removals, and snow removal personnel were checking neighborhoods and subdivisions and replowing where necessary, McReynolds said.

Driving conditions are expected to keep improving with dry weather in the area’s forecast for the next week.

The snow led to numerous accidents throughout the area Thursday night and into Friday. One person was killed and two others injured in an accident that resulted from icy road conditions at about 1:40 a.m. Friday on I-81 in Kingsport.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol’s Fall Branch division worked a total of 24 accidents during and immediately after the storm, with seven of those resulting in some kind of injury. Troopers also responded to five assist calls.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation was still warning motorists Friday morning that patches of snow and ice were affecting driving conditions on I-81, I-26 and other major routes in the Tri-Cities.

Several dozen vehicles were reportedly left stranded on I-26 Thursday when treacherous driving conditions made it nearly impassible. Many of those vehicles remained on the roadside as Friday progressed.

The THP was reportedly dispatched to 14 abandoned vehicles.

A TDOT spokesman said Friday evening there were no reports of significant problems on interstates and state routes in Sullivan or Hawkins counties, although crews would be on call if necessary Friday night.

Although the higher temperatures helped improve road conditions Friday, an SCSO spokesperson said most of the county’s roads were relatively clear but slick in spots.

“We are urging residents to still use caution, especially as the temperature begins to drop again tonight,” SCSO Public Information Officer Leslie Earhart said. “Most of our back roads are now passable but still have some snow and slush on them. With all the moisture on roadways, black ice is a concern tonight through tomorrow morning.”

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