Emergency services were prepared for severe thunderstorms or snow

by | March 22, 2018 7:14 am

Emergency services in White County were recently forced to open the county’s emergency operations center in response to the threat of severe weather. (Photo by BOBBY MCCULLEY)

With the last day of winter bringing widespread threats of tornadoes and thunderstorms and the first day of spring promising a chance for accumulating snow, emergency services personnel and governmental departments remained on guard and prepared for the worst in White County.

On March 19, 2018, after a full 24-hour cycle of news reports calling for a potentially dangerous round of severe weather, officials with the White County E-911 Communications Center and the White County Emergency Management Agency opened the emergency operations center. County-based emergency services throughout the Upper Cumberland and Middle Tennessee followed suit and opened their own operations centers in anticipation of severe weather.

According to the National Weather Service-Nashville District Office, on Monday, “Severe thunderstorms expected this afternoon through the evening hours across Middle Tennessee… Isolated tornadoes with a strong tornado or two are also possible.”

The NWS hazardous weather outlook called for straight line damaging winds, large hail, and the threat of tornadoes. For the Upper Cumberland region, the possibility of the greatest threat for severe weather was later in the evening hours, according to the Monday NWS special weather statement.

According to White County E-911 director Suzi Haston, when the emergency operations center is opened, resources are gathered and preparations are made to ensure all emergency services in White County are prepared and that White County residents can be taken care of in the event that damages and injuries occur during an emergency event. Additional dispatching personnel are also placed on standby to handle any influx in calls that may occur during potential emergency events, such as severe weather.

Also, according to White County E-911, in the event that someone becomes displaced during an emergency, shelters within the city and county are secured. If deemed necessary by emergency responders, shelters for displaced residents can be opened at the White County Agriculture Building, American Legion Building, Sparta-White County Senior Center, Quebeck-Walling Community Center, Doyle Community Center, and Hickory Valley Community Center.

However, White County only experienced brief periods of heavy rain, high winds, and lightning. White County residents did not report any damage during the storms and were not in need of any assistance during or immediately following the severe weather.

Tennessee weather can oftentimes be unpredictable and can change by the minute. As soon as one severe weather event blows through, another system can follow in its footsteps and bring wintery weather with it, just like what has been experienced this week.

From Tuesday, March 20, through Wednesday, March 21, much of Middle Tennessee, which included White County, was under winter weather advisory. The snow advisory called for an inch of snow, with some higher elevations receiving up to two inches of snow.

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