NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN)- Thursday’s record snowfall led to numerous calls for help throughout the day. People reported being stranded and cars were stuck in the snow, causing chaos on the roadway.
“The closer I got here to Nashville the worse and worse it got,” explained Heath Cloutier, who traveled into Nashville from Chatanooga. “I don’t think I’ve been able to go 40 miles per hour at maximum speed in the best condition. Multiple cars off the side of the road. I’ve seen a semi flipped over, it’s pretty bad.”
Cloutier was one of the many drivers who took their chance on the roadway Thursday. She told News 2, she had heard snow was headed to the Volunteer State but had no idea how hard or fast it would come.
“I thought it was going to be one of those, oh they’re saying it’s going to snow, but we don’t normally get that much, and as I started getting here, I said why did I do this? So I will be sitting for quite a while because I am not attempting to drive back, or much of anywhere at this point,” said Cloutier.
As slush and sleet filled the roads around her, she took cover at a gas station along Murfreesboro Pike. Cloutier spent time, breaking ice off of her windshield wipers, after seeing accident after accident unfold right in front of her eyes.
“Even if your’re going slow, somebody else may not be and that’s the biggest thing when you drive in weather like this, is you’ve got to slow down, you’ve got to keep your space and I’m not going to risk my safety to even be out in the road,” described Cloutier.
Law enforcement and first responders spent much of the day combatting the icy conditions, while many drivers made their way home.
“There were people in the ditches stranded, like leaving their cars walking,” described Jeff Flatt, who stopped at a gas station while headed home from work.
However, doctors warned the worst has yet to come.
“Tomorrow and the next day, people start coming out again, and that’s actually where we see a lot of our injuries are when they go into work now, and have slip and falls and things like that,” said Dr. Marshall Hall, the Medical Director of Emergency Services with TriStar Skyline.
Dr. Hall explained typically the day of the storm visits to the ER are down, due to many people staying indoors away from the outside elements. So much so, he said some people even hold off on seeking medical help, out of fear of slick roads.
Now, the big concern is snow turning into ice on the road, as the temperature outside is expected to drop overnight. Emergency room doctors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and TriStar Medical, are already preparing for an influx of patients.
“With not as many snowplows and trucks as there may be in some of the northern states, we just see some of the roads get slick, especially when we’re having some freezing rain and there may be some black ice developing as you have some freeze cycles going on. So, we really get worried about people getting out and feeling like they have to drive when they really shouldn’t be doing so,” explained Dr. Tyler Barrett, Emergency Service Executive Medical Director for Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
It’s being called the hidden danger underneath that fluffy, white snow. While many are expected to return back to work Friday night, Dr. Barrett is preparing for the number of injuries to pile up.
“I fully expect we will see a few more people with some car accidents, and some slip and falls tomorrow morning, especially if the snow melts and we have some ice underneath it,” Dr. Barrett said.
While car accidents are a major concern, Dr. Hall told News 2 the number one reason why ER visits go up the day after a heavy snowfall, is due to “falls,” causing “traumatic head injury extremity injury, things like that.”
Both doctors explain they are hopeful with school closures continuing into Friday, fewer people will be at risk for injury. They suggest anyone headed out, to take it slow and watch your step.