Update: 3:15 p.m.
Widespread snow is now hitting our area, with road conditions worsening.
Kingsport city officials cautioned earlier in the day that the previous rains prevented pre-treatment of roads. Motorists are urged to use caution and give themselves extra time to reach their destinations.
As a result all Sullivan County offices in Bristol, Kingsport, and Blountville are closing at 3:30 p.m.
Update: 12:39 p.m.
Kingsport City Schools have announced they'll dismiss one hour early in anticipation of afternoon snow.
Middle and high schools will dismiss at 1:45 p.m. and elementary schools letting out at 2:15. All afternoon programs are canceled.
Update: 12:33 p.m.
Kingsport’s Streets and Sanitation Department began installing the snow removal equipment (snow ploughs and salt spreaders) on its trucks early Thursday morning in preparation of the impending afternoon snow storm expected to hit the Tri-Cities region.
Hammonds said crews and supervisors meet at approximately 10 a.m. to plan out the afternoon and overnight shifts.
"We’re getting ready and we’re in wait and see mode," Hammonds said. "We’ll be out monitoring the roads and crews will be out in different areas as the afternoon moves along and we’ll start our snow removal as conditions warrant."
Crews are not able to pre-treat the roads due to the rain and garbage collection routes may be altered depending on the weather, Hammonds said.
"It’s a varied forecast, from a trace in the low lying areas to six inches in the higher elevations. We’ll probably be somewhere in the middle of that, probably two to three inches," Hammonds said. "It’s going to be a heavy, wet snow which causes other problems too with heavy trees getting into power lines."
Update: 10 a.m.
Sullivan County Schools made the call around 9:30 a.m. to dismiss students at 11:30 a.m., due to the impending snow storm that is expected to hit our region this afternoon.
"The highway department, sheriff’s department and EMA have been monitoring the situation and (the National Weather Service) is saying a storm is coming very swiftly with heavy snow around 2 p.m.," said Director of Schools Dr. Jubal Yennie. "I’m making the decision that we’re going with that information and if that’s wrong, then I’m wrong. I’d rather be wrong that way than the other way."
Marybeth McLain, communications editor at Kingsport City Schools, said as of right now, city schools are not planning to release early, but schools officials are keeping an eye on the weather.
Northerly winds are expected to pull colder air into the region this afternoon, bringing the possibility of significant snow accumulations in some areas.
On Thursday morning the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tenn., issued a winter weather advisory for snow. It's in effect from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., with forecasters saying rain will transition to snow this afternoon. Snow is expected to initially be heavy then taper off through the evening.
Between one and three inches is expected across most the region with between four and eight inches possible in the mountains of both Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.
The NWS warns that hazardous driving conditions are possible this afternoon and tonight, while overnight temperatures in the 20s will freeze any water on roadways.
As of Thursday morning the forecast for Friday was sunny with a high of 36, remaining clear into the night with a low around 23. Saturday is expected to be sunny with a high near 49.
For the latest forecasts and weather statements, visit the National weather Service.
Appalachian Power announced they're making preparations for possible outages — and encourage the public to do likewise. In the event that heavy snows brings down power lines or poles, Appalachian Power says contract lien workers, damage assessors and tree crews are ready to respond.