Schools let out, crews prepare as snow descends on E. Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- While skies clear in West Tennessee, the Cumberland Plateau and the eastern Tennessee River Valley expect snow.

A broad area from Crossville on the plateau and Chattanooga in the valley northward through Knoxville and the Tri-Cties was under a winter weather advisory. The NWS said snow accumulation of 1inch to 3 inches was possible, beginning in the afternoon.

The National Weather Service has posted a winter storm warning for the mountains of East Tennessee, beginning at 11 a.m. EST Thursday. Forecasters say there could be significant snow accumulations, especially in the higher elevations. Rain falling Thursday morning was expected to change over to snow as brisk northerly winds draw cold temperatures into the region.

Many districts had cancelled school for Thursday and several more were closing early, including Knox Co., which let its elementary students out at 1:30 p.m. and its middle and high school students out 2:30 p.m. (Full List) Knox Co. Schools also delayed its State of the Schools Address until a later date.

The American Automobile Association offered the following tips for safe driving in Winter Weather:

1. Buckle up!
No matter the weather, be sure everyone’s in seat belts, restraint seats or booster seats, even in vehicles with airbags.

2. Focus.
Eliminate all distractions. Driving demands our full attention even in good weather.

3. Know you car.
• Tires are the most important part of the car. Make sure they have the proper air pressure and good tread. Low tire pressure cuts fuel mileage, steering and braking traction.
• New vehicles often feature traction and stability technology that help prevent skids. Check the owner’s manual to know what that technology will do, and – just as important – what it won’t do.

4. See and be seen.
Clear all windows and outside mirrors, turn on headlights to low beam (even in daylight), search for hazards far down the road to spot traffic tie-ups, slippery hills or other situations you may want to begin stopping for early, or steering around.

5. Make smooth moves.
• Slow way down, leave plenty of following distance behind the next vehicle - at least six to eight seconds on slippery roads, and leave an “out” to one side.
• Accelerate, brake and steer slowly and smoothly. Jerky motions increase the risk of skids.

6. Apply Steady Braking.
• In vehicles without antilock brakes, do not pump the brakes. Keep steady pressure on unless the wheels lock, then ease up on the pedal just enough to regain traction. Rolling wheels have more traction than locked wheels.
• In vehicles with antilock brake systems, keep pressing the pedal firmly and steadily. The antilock system should handle the rest- do not pump the brakes. Pumping antilock brakes will remove any benefits they provide.

7. Recover from a skid without panicking.
If you start to skid, stay off the brakes and accelerator and don’t shift gears. Simply look and steer in the direction you want the car to go. When the skid is over you’ll be better able to move the car to a safe spot and calm down before resuming your trip.

Clouds were expected to begin breaking up Thursday over the western half of the state.

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