Winter weather this week: Stay warm, stay in, stay safe

An “arctic vortex” was expected to reach into East Tennessee Tuesday afternoon bringing snow and cold temperatures.

While many may wonder what exactly is an “arctic vortex,” the most important thing to understand is that it meand snow, ice, and very cold temperatures. Forecasts are calling for anywhere from two - four inches of snow, possible freezing rain on top of that, and temperatures dropping in to a single digit Tuesday night/Wednesday morning — with a high estimated at 27-degrees Wednesday afternoon.

But those are just predictions hard to imagine on a day when the thermometer hit almost 60 degrees.

Monday afternoon Anderson County Schools and Clinton City Schools called off Tuesday classes.

The decision to call off school is always more complicated than it looks until you learn what the deciding factor is: Student safety.

“East Tennessee weather is hard for meteorologists to predict, and at times, even harder for directors to make a call about the closing of school,” Clinton City Schools Director of Schools Kelly Johnson said.

“We don’t want to put students and parents at risk of hazardous weather conditions. However, we are also aware that when school is not in session, some of our students don’t have heated homes and will lose out on two hot meals during the day.”

Speaking of safety: The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office has offered these tips for making sure this week is a safe week.

“Should our weather result in snow and bad road conditions, we encourage motorists to stay off roads if at all possible,” a release from the Sheriff’s Office advises.

“Additionally, as the temperature drops into the teens or single digits, limit your time outside. If you need to go outside, please wear layers of warm clothing. In the event driving is necessary, the following driving tips are helpful:”

• Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.

• Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.

• Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.

• Keep your lights and windshield clean.

• Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.

• Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.

• Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.

• Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.

• Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads