The National Weather Service "can guarantee" that snow will fall and accumulate here by Thursday morning, but it remained unclear Tuesday afternoon on whether Marshall County Schools would be closed Thursday.
"We're coming to the realization that we may have to close schools Thursday," Marshall County Schools Interim Director Roy Dukes said late Tuesday morning. "It may go around us," he said of the snowstorm described by meteorologist Sam Herron.
"We do expect the greater totals farther north, but there are still potentials for gathering snow in Marshall County and more than an inch or two across the mid-state," Herron said. "As far as getting the four-inch amounts, that would be further north, but for travelers there are weather issues."
It's like a prayer answered for thousands of residents.
"There are probably 5,300 students and about 400 teachers praying for snow," Dukes said, promising to have reports sent to the two local radio stations, four network affiliated TV stations in Nashville and to marshalltribune.com.
"This, Herron said, "will be an all snow event. There will be no issues with ice. The ground is cold, so when snow hits it will not melt."
Drifts six inches deep are "possible because we do expect blowing snow," the meteorologist continued.
"I think we can guarantee some snow will fall," Herron said. "How much is uncertain," he said, explaining the storm will be "fast moving and not with a lot of moisture, so it could be a somewhat light snow event, maybe even by our standards."
Whether Dukes decides to cancel classes on Thursday "depends" on what he is advised on Wednesday afternoon, that evening, through the night and maybe very early Thursday morning.
"I've worked at this for several years," he said. "If it gets here Wednesday night, we'll do it then.
"I believe the best method for safety is to let parents know as soon as possible and we're going to be watching," Dukes said.
Herron said four inches of snow is "not guaranteed" across all the mid-state area, but "Definitely some snow will fall."
Snow blowing across the road is part of the concern that motivated the National Weather Service to issue a winter storm watch Tuesday morning. A warning was anticipated Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
"Dry snows tend to accumulate more," Herron said. "Flakes are puffier and pile up deeper."
However, he cautioned, "Keep in mind, when we measure snow, we use averages," he said.
There will be "very, very cold wind chill values through the weekend. That will have a big impact - wind chills of below zero. Friday and Saturday, we may not reach 20 degrees for the highs."