Timeline: Covering an East Tennessee snowstorm

An historic southern snow storm dumped the most snow much of East Tennessee has seen since 1996. Parts of Knoxville received more than 6 inches of snow, with more being reported in other counties.

Forecasters watched this system for days, and the exact track and exactly how much snow we could get locally was still a question mark until Wednesday.

We'll update this story throughout the day and evening Wednesday (and now into Thursday!) with updates on what's happening in East Tennessee, and we'll try to give you a few tidbits about what's going on in the 10News Information Center, as we try to keep our viewers informed.

6:45 As the snow is quickly melting in East Tennessee it seems like it may be time to close this story out. We'll keep a check on the roads, and update you tonight on the late shows and Friday morning on 10News Today. Hope you enjoyed your snow days, and here's hoping Spring is right around the corner!!

6:30 Todd just got off the phone with the National Weather Service in Morristown regarding how this snow compares with past snowfall events. We received 5.9" of snow officially in Knoxville yesterday, 2/12/14. The last time we received this much snow was back on February 6th, 1996 when 6" fell in Knoxville. We received 10" on February 2nd that same year in '96. And on January 7th 1996, we saw 5" of snow. So, 1996 Knoxville had 3 big snows of 10, 6 & 5 inches, respectively.

5:45 Yikes! Jus confirmed that several students got in trouble last night after that crazy snowball fight n Neyland Stadium. Two were cited for underage drinking, eight for trespassing. From what a UT spokesperson tells us, it sounds like those students may not have obeyed when UT Police ordered them out.

5:05 Knox County Schools are closed again on Friday! Bet this one was kind of a hard call for the superintendent, since roads seem to be melting, but it remains to be seen how much refreeze we will see overnight. I guess officials decided it was better to err on the side of caution. We know kids won't be complaining. But, by our estimates, that is Knox County's last built-in snow day, so if get any more bad weather that forced schools to be closed, they would likely have to make up that day.

3 pm. Afternoon meeting. The snow seems to be melting, the roads are clear, so how much should we do on it tonight? Decided to focus on the roads, since that affects the most people. We'll see tonight if it will get cold enough to cause some black ice on the roads.

2 pm: Tennessee is in good company when it comes to snow nowadays. USA TODAY found that 49 out of the 50 states has snow on the ground! Only the sunshine state of Florida is completely snow-free, according to a map from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

1:30 pm: More photo galleries are on the way! We're working on putting together a couple more albums to highlight all of your awesome photos. We'll keep you posted!

1 pm: We can't click save fast enough at the station right now with all of the snowman pictures we're getting. We've put together a photo gallery of some of the most creative!

12:45 pm: Major roads around Knoxville are clearing up thanks to Mr. Sun! The bright, shining skies seemed to be melting plenty of snow. Check out Katie Roach's report from noon on the road conditions.

12:30 pm: Most roads and several facilities in the Great Smoky Mountains will remain closed Thursday because of the weather. A spokesperson for the park also just e-mailed us back with their snow totals from this storm. Park headquarters saw 5 inches, Cades Cove had 6.5 inches, Mt. LeConte saw 10 inches, and Newfound Gap had the highest with 16 inches.

11:45 am: It's official, this specific storm brought more snow to Knoxville than we've seen in nearly a decade! According to Anthony Cavallucci with the National Weather Service, the storm brought 5.8 inches of snow at McGhee Tyson Airport, which is the most snowfall seen since March 13, 1993 when Knoxville got 11.1 inches of snow. This most recent bout of snow beats the previous closest amount of 5 inches on January 7, 1996.

11 am: Well, my earlier post must have jinxed it because we're now starting to get closing notices in for Friday. Rogersville, Hawkins County, and Jefferson County are the first three to report their Friday snow days. Remember, click here for the full list of closures!

10:45 am: The viewer photos keep rolling in. Check out this super sized snow man making an appearance in South Knoxville! Thanks to Gayle Lynch for sending it in.

10:15 am: Well, we're starting to get our first calls in asking about whether schools will be closed tomorrow. Sorry folks, we haven't gotten any Friday closures yet...but here is where you can see the full list of closures and delays if/when we get some in.

10:05 am: After a long night of work clearing the roads, TDOT spokesperson Mark Nagi said crews in Knox and surrounding areas are getting some well deserved rest. He tweeted out that routes will continue to be monitored and treated as necessary.

9:35 am: The heavy snow led to some pretty amazing photos from all across East Tennessee. Check out our photo gallery of viewer submitted pictures.

9:20 am: Well, here's something you don't see everyday. An impromptu snowball fight broke out at Neyland Stadium Wednesday night. And a WBIR camera caught it all!

9:06 am: KPD reporting its officers responded to more than two dozen property damages crashes between 7 p.m. Wednesday and 7 a.m. Thursday. In addition, their crews only had two injury crashes during that same time. However, KPD said those statistics don't include numerous calls of vehicles that went off the roadway or had been left abandoned. In the meantime, KPD said its remaining on level 2 of its severe weather plan.

9 am: Our Fox43 morning show just wrapped up which means traffic guru Ed Rupp is heading home to get some well-deserved sleep. He stayed overnight at the station in order to monitor all the roads and conditions.

8:45 am: A number of dayside producers, reporters are rolling into the station now. All said their drives in haven't been too bad, but wish all drivers took the time to completely clear off their cars. Better safe than sorry!

8:30 am: This winter storm dropped plenty of "fresh powder" throughout the area. Meteorologist Mike Witcher decided to try out snowboarding in the 10News parking lot during a morning show commercial break. Check out the full video by clicking here.

8 am Thursday: Good morning East Tennessee! Andrew here taking over on the timeline for the next few hours. We've been so busy getting everything online that we haven't had a chance to update this, so bear with me. Several of our crews are out checking on roads throughout the area. We've had reports throughout the morning from North Knoxville, Jefferson and McMinn Counties. Each of our reporters saw slick and snowy roads in each area.

And UT students will get a chance to catch up on some sleep because the university announced this morning on Twitter that it'll be closed on Thursday.

Wednesday February 12, 2014:

9:30 KPD has activated their severe weather plan, which means they're only responding to crashes that have injuries or are blocking major roadways. If you have an accident, you should exchange information with the other driver, snap a pic, then wait to report it until the weather clears up.

Here's a current snapshot of snow-covered Papermill:

In the mean time, keep sharing pictures with us! Here's some neat things y'all have shared with us using our hashtag #snoWBIR.

8:10 Looks like roads conditions are deteriorating quickly out there. Lots of minor wrecks are being reported. Morristown Police is asking anyone in Morristown who gets in a non-injury wreck to exchange information at the scene then report it to police once the weather has cleared. Let us know what you're seeing in your neck of the woods by tweeting us using the hashtag #snoWBIR.

7:50 Hey everyone, Tonja has gone home for the evening, and I (Alexandra) am taking over the weather timeline! Be careful out there-- the roads are starting to get slick and snow is starting to stick to them since the sun has gone down and temperatures are dropping. KPD is reporting multiple wrecks in both north and south Knoxville, so definitely plan to stay in tonight if you can!

6:30 6 pm newscast wrapped up. Now time to meet to make the plan for tonight-- which staff members will be working some overtime tonight?? The snow is picking up in East Tennessee, as expected, so conditions could start to deteriorate, though we've got our fingers crossed! Oh, and as mentioned earlier, it's pizza time! A newsroom tradition!!

5:30 Just in!!! Knox Co. closed Thursday!

5:15 pm Just a quick wrap of what from our crews reported on 10News at 5. In Knoxville, some snow is falling, but nothing is really sticking to the ground, and the roads are wet but not slick. More snow has fallen in Cocke County, but it's more picturesque than anything. Townsend is looking like an absolute winter wonderland! Reporter Mary Scott found a man from Atlanta who drove up to the Smokies because he didn't want to be stuck inside at home, with the possibility of ice and power outages. Instead he's enjoying the beauty of our mountains and taking lots of pictures! And as usual, lots of folks are enjoying Gatlinburg's hospitality. Some folks from Florida are excited to be here during the snow!

5:05 Check out the mega box! We have seven reporters out in the field, covering the snow! TV folks get excited about graphics like this!

5:00 pm. 10News at 5 starts now! By the way, we're not hearing of any traffic problems at the moment. The snow doesn't appear to be sticking to road surfaces, plus our road crews have done a great job treating in advance!! A big shout out to those men and women who work long hours to keep us safe!

4:45 It's almost time for 10News at 5! Producer Lisa is frantically finishing and printing scripts for John and Robin. Todd doesn't need scripts! He just plans out what order he wants his maps and wings it. By the way, if you haven't gotten much snow yet, be patient. The heaviest snow may be coming this evening.

4 pm We are taking our live streaming coverage down for now, since the snow has let up slightly. We'll be back live for 10News at 5!

3:30 We know a lot of you love the snow, but that's not the case for some of the people who have to work the hardest when the white stuff hits. Take a look at this picture reporter Jennifer Meckles snapped of a sign at the Knox County salt barn!

3:00 We are now streaming live weather coverage on WBIR.com and 10News2. Mobile users can click to see it. Todd and Ella are trying to answer some viewer questions from twitter and Facebook, and we're checking in with our reporters who are stationed around East Tennessee. Still snowing here, by the way! ;)

2:45 Just learned we are going live with weather coverage on 10News2 and WBIR.com. We don't want to broadcast on Ch. 10 because of the Olympics.

2:35 The evening crews are now here.. this newsroom is packed! Getting ready to head to the afternoon editorial meeting to talk about what stories we are already covering, and what we need to do tonight. A lot will still depend on how much snow ends up on the ground and where.

2:30 Big, beautiful snowflakes falling outside the studio now, and yes, some of us had to run outside for pictures! We are already planning to escape later and build a snowman. You know what they say about all work and no play!

2:15 Snow is now starting to pick up a little bit outside our studios. So far, not much to see in Knoxville.

2:10 I just saw Chief Meteorologist Todd Howell running through the parking lot with his overnight bag in hand, just in case. You maybe able to tell by watching him that Todd just loves snow!! Mike is still here and Ella arrived a little while ago to help keep track of the weather and keep you updated on social media! Like WBIR Weather on Facebook at follow @wbirweather on twitter to see what they have to say.

1:55 As usual, our viewers are not letting us down! We are getting lots of great pictures posted to our Facebook and twitter pages (#snoWBIR). We've created our first photo gallery of viewer pictures here and will try to keep it updated throughout the day! I love the picture of the cardinal in the snow that's the lead image in the gallery. Just beautiful!! With this forecast to be a wet, heavy snow, we know it will make for some amazing photos, so share them with us!!!

1:30 here's what we're snacking on this snow day. We will probably do a pizza run later on today. We love our pizza!!

1:05 Starting to see some snow coming down right outside our studio!

12:45 Great Smoky Mountains National Park said it's closing down its Sugarland Visitors Center, Oconaluftee Visitor Center, and park headquarters on Wednesday afternoon because of the imminent winter storm. Park officials also said weather conditions may cause a delay for Thursday morning's opening.

12:35 TDOT says crews in its East Tennessee region have already used 47,026 tons of salt and more than 1 million gallons of brine so far this winter! And, the city of Knoxville said crews on Friday put down 25,900 gallons of brine and 30 tons of salt. Then, Tuesday city crews put down 36,300 gallons of brine and 40.5 tons of salt to prep for Wednesday's snow storm.

12:05 A quick wrap of what we reported at noon: Mike Witcher says Greenback and Vonore are getting some heavy, wet snow right now, and our sky cam in Gatlinburg is showing some beautiful flakes falling! Reporter Katie Roach was outside the 911 Center near downtown Knoxville. Representatives from all emergency crews were there for a meeting to get a weather briefing. They will open the Emergency Operations Center at 3 pm. It will be staffed by representatives from all those agencies to make decision making and coordination possible. There will be 15 fire crews with medic capabilities out in Knox County this afternoon, from KFD, Rural/Metro, and Karns VFD.

Noon. Another chuckle from twitter. Food City sent us a picture saying their Bearden store is fully stocked in response to one of our tweets about empty store shelves.

11:55 So nice! The Red Cross has offered to bring cots and blankets to the station for any of us who end up stuck at the station. It wouldn't be the first time we've had a sleepover during winter weather. Many of us packed a bag, just in case, but are all really, hoping we can drive home tonight!! A big thanks to the Red Cross for thinking of us!!

11:50 We're getting word that snow is falling in Blount and Sevier County. A friend in Townsend says it's starting to look like a winter wonderland already! Still no snow in Knoxville.

11:20 Just got word that Knox County's Emergency Operations Center would open at 3 pm, and earlier if necessary. Local Red Cross is also standing by to open shelters if needed.

11:15 There's apparently been a run on snow shovels in Knoxville! Reporter Ashley Izbicki just called around to 16 local stores, including Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, and Target, and they were all sold out or only had a few shovels left!

10:45 Seen on twitter.. and this one made us smile! Knox Co. Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre tweeted:
"Had our McIntyre family tradition of snow day pancake breakfast this morning! All that was missing was the snow... : )" Knox Co. cancelled school for Wednesday because of the snow threat, along with dozens of other systems.

10:30 am. Morning meeting finally wrapping up. Crews are heading out on their assignments, and producers and managers are at their desks. Our assignment manager Paul Brown came up with the twitter hashtag @snoWBIR. We love it, and he's pretty pleased with himself! It is clever, right? So if you tweet, please use it!!

9:30 Just checked McGhee Tyson Airport and they're reporting several cancellations, especially to Charlotte and Atlanta.

9:15. We're getting reports of sleet already in Monroe County. We've got a crew headed that way now to see what's going on now!

9 am. The morning meeting. Meteorologist MIke Witcher joins us to give us an update on the forecast. This one has been a very tough storm to predict, and our weather team has been looking at models and Todd and Mike have been drawing on their long years of experience in East Tennessee to figure out exactly what we're going to get. Right now, Mike is telling us that the storm could be shifting a little to the west, raising the possibility of more accumulation in Knoxville. Eek! Luckily, Wednesday is the day we have the largest staff. We've got eight reporters, who can shoot, write, and edit all of their own material, and five of the most experienced photographers in the market to get out and gather information. We've stationed those crews in Knoxville, and mostly to the east and south of Knoxville, since that's where the possibility of accumulation is greatest. It's still sort of a big waiting game right now!!


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