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Sleet & Snow: Winter weather causes school closures, traffic delays

Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Allyson Elliott photographs the snow coming down on Main Street. Elliott, below, takes a few pictures of the snow falling in front of St. Mary Basilica Thursday night.
Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Allyson Elliott photographs the snow coming down on Main Street.

NATCHEZ — Sleet and snow fell in the Miss-Lou Thursday, and enough stuck on the ground to cause the westbound Mississippi River Bridge to temporarily close and some schools to close today.

Natchez-Adams schools, Concordia Parish schools, Cathedral School, Adams County Christian School, Trinity Episcopal Day School, Delta Charter School, Co-Lin Community College’s Natchez campus and Central Louisiana Technical Community College Ferriday campus are closed today because of the weather.

Mississippi Department of Transportation offices reported early today that all bridges in southwest Mississippi were open, but advised motorists to use caution to avoid potential black ice.

Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Five-year-old Matthew Verucchi writes in the sleet and snow that collected on top of a trash can on the bluff Thursday night before a prayer vigil hosted by Pro Life Natchez-Adams County.
Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Five-year-old Matthew Verucchi writes in the sleet and snow that collected on top of a trash can on the bluff Thursday night before a prayer vigil hosted by Pro Life Natchez-Adams County.

One lane on the Mississippi River west bound bridge was temporarily closed Thursday night as Mississippi Department of Transportation and Natchez Police Department officials attempted to move a stranded 18-wheeler.

NPD Detective Jerry Ford said the 18-wheeler broke down on the bridge.

Traffic was moving on the bridge, but was moving slower than usual.

MDOT District Engineer Albert White said crews were working to put calcium chloride on the bridge to prevent ice from forming.

“We’re going to do whatever we can to keep the bridge open and running,” White said.

Local realtor Meredith Faust was traveling across the bridge from Vidalia to Natchez Thursday evening before the icy conditions caused her car to veer off course.

“I was driving and just said to my daughter how pretty the snow was on the bridge,” Faust said. “I’m not real sure after that.

“The car did a few fishtales, I hit one side of the bridge and then the other, and I did a whole lot of praying.”

BRITTNEY LOHMILLER / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — An 18-wheeler truck got stuck on the westbound side of the Mississippi River Bridge Thursday evening due to ice forming on the bridge. Traffic was allowed to continue across the bridge in one lane.
BRITTNEY LOHMILLER / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — An 18-wheeler truck got stuck on the westbound side of the Mississippi River Bridge Thursday evening due to ice forming on the bridge. Traffic was allowed to continue across the bridge in one lane.

After her car came to a stop, Faust said she called 911 and stepped out on the bridge to wait for the tow truck.

“The bridge was so slick I almost lost my footing,” Faust said. “Then the tow truck guys did lose their footing because it was so slick.”

Faust was riding in the car with her three children and gladly reported no one was injured in the bridge incident.

Vidalia Police Chief Arthur Lewis said no road closures were reported Thursday night as the snow did not stick to the pavement.

“We’re still asking all residents to drive safe on the roads until conditions are clear,” Lewis said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Wilkinson said reports from Adams County showed nearly half an inch of snow across the area Thursday evening.

“Some reported a little more, but we don’t believe it was more than an inch,” Wilkinson said. “There’s some really dry air pushing down that’s going to cut off the snow shortly.

“We don’t expect a whole lot of accumulation to continue.”

Wilkinson said cold and windy temperatures will continue today, but snow won’t be likely.

“You’ll have some left over on the ground probably, but it won’t continue to fall,” Wilkinson said. “It will just be real cold and windy.”

Warm temperatures are expected to pass through the area this weekend, Wilkinson said, with highs in the 50s on Saturday.

More cold temperatures, however, are likely to return next week.

“I don’t know if we’ll see snow or not, so we’ll just have to wait and see,” Wilkinson said. “With this roller coaster we’ve been on lately, you never know.”