Road crews in cities and counties across East Tennessee are in winter weather mode. Their goal is to get ahead of any potential icy conditions on Friday morning. That means preparing for the worst and remembering Mother Nature could have the last laugh, which might affect your morning commute.
Most counties have hundreds of miles of pavement to maintain when conditions are clear, but when it comes to crews attacking sleet, snow, and ice, main roads are top priority.
In McMinn County, Dan Evans knows knows the roads like the back of his hand. The native son is the Assistant Office Manager for the highway department; he keeps crews moving ahead so county roads run smooth.
I was business as usual on Thursday for crews. However, the faint white stripes down some county roads are a clue that severe weather could strike.
"We'll put down what we can," said Evans.
To prepare for snow and, in this case, ice Evans and his crews focus on roads most traveled. Even though there are no guarantees, brine trucks treated the asphalt.
"It will work if it doesn't rain. If it comes as sleet, or as a small amount of rain and trying to sleet it will work," explained Evans.
Either way, crews will spread salt on the main routes come morning, if Old Man Winter leaves his mark. Evans said that's something they haven't had to use since 2011.
Crews are on stand-by for road duty on Friday morning. But there's also a chance, "it could be very well that we're not able to get out if the ice is severe enough," said Evans.
That brings another concern. "We're worried with ice about trees. To be honest with you. We have a big problem with that," Evans said.
For now, crews in McMinn County are doing what they can to make sure drivers stay safe over the next 24 hours. Like the rest of the community, Evans is along for the ride.
Evans told 10News county officials, including the road department, fire and rescue, the power company, and the school district, all met Thursday morning to discuss an emergency plan should they need it. Many other counties in East Tennessee have made the same preparations.