- Associated Press - Friday, January 6, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A winter mess moving through Tennessee on Friday caused hundreds of accidents on slick roads around Nashville, including school bus fender-benders that prompted early dismissals from city schools.

The snow in western Tennessee on Friday pushed FedEx to warn that the weather could delay shipments across the country from its hub at the Memphis International Airport.

Throughout middle Tennessee, the National Weather Service in Nashville said Friday morning’s snowfall ranged from a quarter of an inch to about 2 inches of snow. Metro Nashville Police said they received more than 300 non-injury crash calls between 7 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., with many more reported outside the city.

Memphis received about 1 to 2 inches of snow, with up to three inches in Hardeman County, said National Weather Service meteorologist Gary Woodall in Memphis.

On Friday, Nashville public schools decided at 5 a.m. to stay open, though many surrounding school districts closed or were on a delayed schedule.

Within hours, weather conditions worsened. By then, some students were already at school, since high schools start at 7 a.m., and others were on buses, said Schools Chief Operating Officer Chris Henson. At 8:20 a.m., the district announced early dismissals.

On the roads, school buses got into “minor fender-benders” that involved cars sliding into buses, buses sliding into cars, or buses hitting a mailbox, Henson said. One bus slid off the road and nearly tipped over before the Nashville Fire Department got all the students off the bus without injuries. Less than a dozen buses were impacted, Henson said Friday morning.

“We apologize,” Henson said at a news conference Friday. “We realize that it’s been very frustrating for everyone. And the timing was very unfortunate, as far as the weather change.”

All students were transported safely by Friday afternoon, Metro Nashville Public Schools said later.

In Memphis, FedEx said “potential delays are possible for package deliveries across the U.S.” with a delivery commitment of Friday. The company posted a statement on its website saying FedEx Express experienced “substantial disruptions” at its Memphis hub Thursday overnight into Friday due to winter weather.

Eastern Tennessee was gearing up for more snow overnight Friday into Saturday. That could include 3 to 4 inches in Knoxville, although the National Weather Service said it would be a difficult forecast with a lot of snow in some places, and little elsewhere. The state also was bracing for frigid temperatures overnight.

Memphis, for example, is opening a warming center Friday evening overnight into Saturday at the main public library branch for people who need shelter from the cold.

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