TN Valley prepares for Round 2 of winter storm - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

TN Valley prepares for Round 2 of winter storm

EMA officials across the Tennessee Valley continue to work towards keeping the public safe during the winter storm. EMA officials across the Tennessee Valley continue to work towards keeping the public safe during the winter storm.

The Tennessee Valley made it through the first day of a winter storm, but now must brace for even more ice and snow Wednesday.

The Sand Mountain area was the hardest hit in terms of snowfall Tuesday. Snow covered the ground and roads across Marshall, Jackson and DeKalb Counties Tuesday morning. Emergency management officials said the precipitation changed into snow around 2 a.m., accumulating to two inches by 4 a.m.

EMA officials there said many people heeded the advice to stay off the roads. Crews still plowed snow and spread sand to help keep main and connecting roads open for emergency responders. The combination of light traffic and crew attention led to a quick melt of the snow.

In the Decatur area, snowfall totals ranged between 1 and 2.5." Most streets were a solid sheet of ice Tuesday morning, the snow and ice turning to slush as traffic began building through the morning. Several cars slid and settled to the side of the road. A major trouble spot was Highway 20 westbound at the incline near the new core. Trucks there had a tough time negotiating the hill.

In the Huntsville metropolitan area, police said they responded to 44 accidents between midnight and 11 a.m. Tuesday. Athens streets were also a mess; police there said from between 1:30 a.m. to noon they responded to 14 vehicles stuck in ditches and six crashes.

Madison and Huntsville leaders spent Tuesday afternoon mapping out their plans for Wednesday. At a briefing, Huntsville police and fire chiefs joined school and city officials to hear the latest report from the National Weather Service and ask questions.

The information learned from the briefing is important to public works crews who keep the roads maintained during the wintry weather. Because both ice and snow are predicted, officials said another long night of overtime is expected for road crews.

At least 30 people stayed overnight Monday at the Public Works, and more are expected to work in the early morning hours Wednesday, along with police, fire, and HEMSI crews. HEMSI Chief of Operations Don Webster said anyone who was scheduled to be off is coming in to help out.

State agencies set up a command post in the Shoals, also listening to the NWS briefing, ready to send out additional resources if needed. The idea of a state division command or central dispatch is to help direct additional state resources where they are needed most, in an efficient manner, without duplicating requests.

The ABC board and the State Forestry Commission are represented in the central dispatch; these departments are cross-trained with EMA officials to lend manpower when assistance is needed. Most of these additional resources have access to four-wheel drive trucks and heavy equipment.

To avoid a situation of snarled traffic, miles of stalled cars, and headaches similar to those that happened in Birmingham, emergency responders urge motorists to stay off the roads if at all possible. State troopers added that it is important that people not call for updates on road conditions due to the attention it diverts from attending to actual emergencies.

As melted precipitation is expected to freeze overnight into Wednesday, emergency officials hope everyone remains as weather aware and as safe as they did Tuesday, and to continue avoiding unnecessary hazards as the next wave of wintry weather moves in.

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