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Sleet, ice and snow hit the Mid-South, events canceled, schools closed and trees fall

By Thomas Sellers Jr.Snow Day Doggie Snow Day fun Snow Day logs

The first week of February 2014 brought all types of winter weather to the Mid-South.
Ice covered trees and some roads in the area leading to school closing, rescheduling of sporting events and the cancellation of some community events all together. Then Friday night into Saturday morning snow covered the Memphis area. But by the afternoon, most of it was melted with the forecast calling for more this week. The inclement weather brought chaos for some residents of Millington and Tipton County.  On Feb. 4, almost 2,000 Southwest Tennessee Electric customers in Tipton County spent the night without power because of ice falling overnight.  Then the Winter Storm’s damage worsened when the temperatures fell below freezing, which could cause problems during rush-hour traffic.
“The cold temperature and wet streets will likely lead to icing on bridges and overpasses.  Motorists need to use extreme caution, especially on roads prone to icing such as the 385 loop,” said Bob Nations, Director of the Shelby County Office of Preparedness.
A Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Patrol cruiser was damaged after an ice-covered tree limb fell on the vehicle that was parked along Benjestown Road near Northaven in north Shelby County. The deputy was not injured. She was outside the vehicle when the limb broke. Shelby County Public Works crews cleared 16 trees and limbs that blocked roads in the Brunswick and Shelby Forest areas during the mid-week.  The Emergency Operations Center at the Shelby County Office of Preparedness was opened for a couple of hours as sleet moved through the area. Representatives from law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, public works and Memphis Light, Gas and Water tracked problems caused by the weather.
“Luckily, we had only a few issues of concern. However, the National Weather Service tells us we’ll continue to have potential for more freezing rain and possible snow through the weekend. Everyone needs to stay alert to the changing weather conditions,” Nations added.
While things calmed down in Shelby County, damage appeared to be worse in the rural areas of Tipton County. Schools were closed most of the week finally reopening on Friday.  At one point, Southwest Tennessee Electric had nearly 11,000 members without power. Tipton County officials were responding to the weather conditions. Tipton County had trees and power lines down on at least 15 roadways.  Tipton County EMA Director Tommy Dunavant was coordinating crews and personnel in the Tipton County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Agencies assisting in the efforts are the Tipton County Sheriff’s Office, Tipton County Public Works, Tipton County GIS Mapping personnel, various Tipton County Fire Departments, and all electric companies. Department leaders, including Sheriff J.T. “Pancho” Chumley and Public Works Director Shannon Reed, are at the EOC to assess personnel needs and respond to the changing demands of this weather event.
“We are asking that citizens be aware of the changing driving conditions which may deteriorate later tonight,” Chumley said. “If at all possible refrain from driving unless necessary. Drivers are cautioned with dangers of falling limbs, trees and power lines. Currently, personnel and crews have responded to approximately 80 calls related to the current weather conditions. The Munford Parks and Recreation Center located at 63 College Street in Munford is open for citizens seeking shelter due to electricity being out in Tipton County. Crews are working to clear roadways and restore electrical services in those hardest hit areas.”
Citizens can contact Southwest Electric Company at 1-888-440-1990 to report power outages. This reporting will help to identify grids and specific locations for crews to respond. If anyone has information on road hazards, downed trees and power lines, call Central Dispatch at 475-4300.
For more information in Shelby County, go to the Shelby County Office of Preparedness HLS/EMA Facebook Group or Twitter@SCOP_HLS_EMA or call 515-2525.

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