MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) -- The extreme cold continues to be Mondays' big story as the lowest temperatures in almost 20 years blanket the state.
Tennessee declared a State of Emergency Sunday night and partially activated its emergency response system. The State is currently showing all major highways open and no major power outages. EMA spokesman Dean Fleanor says if you do have to travel, take along these important numbers.
“Call 511, which will give people road conditions before they head out. If they do get out and they get stuck they can call *-THP. That’s *-847 and they’ll be connected to the closest Tennessee Highway Patrol dispatch office to their location.”
The Tennessee Department of Transportation says if you’re out Monday you should find most major roads in fairly good shape. West Tennessee received very little precipitation and so has had few problems. State crews were able to get down a lot of salt in Middle Tennessee and managed to keep most roads passable. But a TDOT spokesperson says East Tennessee is another story.
“We are still working pretty hard in some of the eastern parts of the state. It is still snowing up in the mountains of East Tennessee and crews are diligently working there.”
While primary roads in the mid-state are in relatively good shape, secondary roads are another matter entirely. The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office is reporting that county roads are hazardous due to patches of snow and ice. TDOT’s online smartmap shows road conditions in the eastern portions of Middle Tennessee are especially hazardous. Dekalb, Coffee, Canon, Putnam, and Warren County are all reporting poor road conditions.
Nearly all schools in the WMOT listening area are closed Monday, including Rutherford County and Murfreesboro City schools. Davidson County schools have already decided to close Tuesday as well.
A spokesperson for Nashville International Airport tells WMOT that one of its runways was closed briefly Sunday night due to icing, but the airport is in full operation at this hour. There have been disruptions with more than 30 flights out of BNA canceled or delayed Monday, primarily because of severe weather in the northeastern states.
Getting the homeless in out of the cold is a special concern. Here in Murfreesboro several organizations have joined forces to provide shelter with a program called “Coldest Night.” Scott Foster with the Journey Home ministry says homeless men can seek shelter Monday and Tuesday nights at the Salvation Army gym on New Salem Highway.
“And we open each evening at 7 o’clock, and we close the doors at 9:30 p.m. So we ask participants, anyone that needs a warm safe place to be, to come some time between 7 o’clock and 9:30 in the evening.”
Foster says separate shelter is available for women and children.
National Weather Service meteorologist Trevor Boucher says the extreme low temperatures are here to stay for a couple of days, but the mid-state will see a pretty dramatic change beginning Wednesday.
“We’ll be seeing the temperatures rise steadily after that point into the 40s and finally into the 50s by Friday so it’ll be warming up quite a bit. But it should be wet. We’ll see rain back in the forecast by mid to late in the week. So we’re not gonna be seeing the clear, warm days that some people might be hoping for, but we’ll at least be warming up.”
Boucher says that these are the coldest temperatures Tennessee has seen in some time, but notes they’re not even close to the record. The state saw the temperature fall to 18 degrees below zero in the 1982.
Don’t forget about your pets and livestock. Bring pets indoors if possible. If not, make sure they have a place out of the wind and precipitation. Also make sure they have extra food and that their water supply doesn’t freeze over.