Icy conditions possible in Miss-Lou today

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 26, 2000

Old Man Winter arrived in Natchez this morning. The National Weather Service in Jackson said Wednesday that freezing rain was expected to develop early this morning over portions of south Mississippi and spread through the remainder east through the remainder of the day.

Ice accumulations of one quarter to one half inch were possible.

&uot;Frozen precipitation should be starting between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. Thursday,&uot; said Adams County Civil Defense Director George Souderes on Wednesday.

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The weather service reported that the Natchez area would be under a winter storm watch which means that significant ice accumulations are possible, but not imminent. If heavy accumulations are imminent, a winter storm warning will be issued.

Souderes said he expected that winter storm advisory to come during the night Wednesday.

Natchez-Adams School District acknowledged the possibility of closing schools on Thursday due to inclement weather, said Millicent Mayo, spokesperson for the school district.

&uot;We have been advised by the National Weather Service to expect severe weather – ice and/or snow – beginning early Thursday morning,&uot; Mayo said.

School staff have been notified to tune into local radio stations and Jackson television stations for school closings.

Dr. Carl Davis, superintendent of the Natchez-Adams School District, will make the decision to close schools sometime early today.

Assistant superintendents will contact various school program directors and the directors, in turn, will notify their staff of whether to report to work.

Other area schools, including Cathedral, Trinity Episcopal, and Adams County Christian School, will assess the weather in the early morning hours and call local radio stations regarding school closures.

Adams County Road Manager Russell Dorris said his staff is on stand-by with extra sand and spreaders to apply to roads after the ice and freezing rain arrives.

With a quarter to half inch of ice, Souderes said power outages are very likely.

&uot;We can’t control the weather,&uot; said Forest Persons, Entergy’s Customer Service manager for Southwest Mississippi.

Entergy is gearing up for possible downed power lines by drawing up crew rosters, notifying contractors, equipping crews and trucks for winter conditions, and checking critical circuits, Persons said.

&uot;Everybody need to be sure to check the antifreeze in cars and be certain that your exposed pipes are protected,&uot; Souderes said.

The weather service urged local residents to closely monitor National Weather Service bulletins in the next 24 hours.

New information Wednesday from the weather service indicated that a second storm system is moving behind the one expected to reach the Natchez area on Thursday. This new system may keep temperatures at or below freezing through the weekend, Souderes said.

The Salvation Army has offered to set up warming stations is needed, said Lt. Bobby Westmoreland of the Salvation Army.

&uot;People can call us directly or through the police department if they need shelter,&uot; Westmoreland said.

The Salvation Army can be reached at 442-0217 or 442-7173.

Cal Adams, a spokesman for the Mississippi Highway Patrol, said the agency had activated its emergency weather and road information program to provide motorists with information on road conditions.

Adams said a toll-free telephone number, 1-888-728-4218, could be reached from anywhere in the state to obtain highway condition reports.

Across the river, Concordia Parish officials were getting also ready for rough weather Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, the Town of Vidalia had sand on standby in addition to sand stockpiled by the Department of Transportation to sand down the Mississippi River bridge if it became icy, said Police Chief Billy Hammers.

The Town of Vidalia is responsible for accidents on the new, or southernmost, bridge.

&uot;We’ll sand down one lane of the bridge at the first sign it’s becoming icy,&uot;&160;Hammers said late Wednesday afternoon. That was expected to happen at about 4 a.m. today, he said.

Town crews were on standby Wednesday night and early this morning to sand the bridge and roads if needed. If ice becomes a hazard on town roads, those would be sanded, too, Hammers said.