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By CINDY SIMPSON & DAMON LAWRENCE
Icy conditions resulted in a rash of accidents early Tuesday for those who ventured out onto area roadways.
Roane County schools were closed for the day, and Roane State Community College was on a two-hour delay because of freezing rain.
In Roane County early Tuesday, there had already been 32 accidents between 6 and around 9:30 a.m. according to Gail May, mapping coordinator with the 911 dispatch.
“Most of it is weather related,” she said.
She said that most accidents seem to be in the Harriman area, but others were in Kingston and on Interstate 40.
Many on I-40 were near the Loudon County line.
Roane County Chief Deputy Tim Phillips said his officers were tied up because of the weather.
“It is a nightmare. They are staying busy from going from call to call,” Phillips said.
Tom Hamby, Roane County road superintendent, said he was on his way to work at 6:30 when he noticed things were bad.
He said the worst spots were places that don’t get a lot of sun.
Hamby said he had crews dispatched throughout the county putting down salt.
He expected things to get better once the temperature warmed up.
“This thing just started freezing about 6:30 this morning,” Hamby said. “It’s not as bad now as it was then, but there’s still a lot of slick spots here and there.”
“My car is showing 34-35 degrees right now, so the temperature has come up about 3 degrees since 6:30,” Hamby added.
Howie Rose, the county emergency management director, also had a busy start to his day due to icy roads.
“Things are better now than they were,” he said around 9:30 a.m. “They were pretty slick. I just cleared off of several multiple-vehicle accidents down off of Hwy. 72 with the sheriff’s department.”
“The rescue squad had several calls this morning,” Rose added. “The sheriff’s department had several calls this morning, mainly just fender benders. There were a few accidents that people were transported by the ambulance. The road conditions are still slick in spots.”
He shared Hamby’s sentiment: “We’re hoping they will improve as the day goes on.”
In fact, a winter weather advisory that had been issued early in the morning was discontinued around 12:30 p.m. because of warming conditions, although some sleet was still expected to fall.
No fatalities were reported, but some accidents could have been serious.
“(We) had a few cars upside down, but other than that, kind of typical slick-road driving conditions,” Rose said. “People off to the side of the road and those type of events.”
Rose said his office was not advising people to stay off the roads
“That’s really up to them. It’s a judgment call for them. Some people are comfortable driving on slick roads, some are not,” he said.
“Of course, we don’t want them to travel unless they absolutely have to, but if they can go in to work late or something like that, that would be OK.”
Roane County was on the western edge of some of the worst conditions regionally.
Slick conditions made commuting in Knoxville a nightmare, and even a salt truck flipped.
Fatal crashes were reported in Loudon County and Oak Ridge, and I-40 was temporarily closed in Jefferson County.
The forecast for Wednesday called for partly cloudy with only a 20 percent chance of precipitation.
Colder temperatures are in store Thursday, however.
The Weather Channel forecast called for highs of 29 degrees and a low of 11.
Expected wind speeds of about 12 mph would push the wind chill far below those temperatures, however.