Snow expected today

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 11, 2010

NATCHEZ — Friday morning could bring record snowfall to the Natchez area.

The National Weather Service in Jackson is predicting as much as 6 inches of snow will fall in the Miss-Lou, Senior Meteorologist Mike Edmonston said.

Snow could fall in Natchez as early as late afternoon today, and anything that falls after midnight could stick until Saturday afternoon, Edmonston said.

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“Right now, it is only a winter storm watch, but if everything pans out as expected through (this morning), it will be a winter storm warning,” he said.

In the past, snow in the Natchez area has started off as rain and later evolved into snow, but Edmonston said the air could be cold enough for the precipitation to be all snow tonight.

The snow will be tapering off from the west Friday afternoon and it will briefly be above freezing, but the temperature will fall into the 20s by nightfall.

“Bridges and overpasses will refreeze, so look out for black ice,” Edmonston said. “The snow will significantly melt Saturday, as we’re looking for it to climb into the 50s.”

The snowfall record for Natchez stands at 9.5 inches, set on Jan. 23, 1940.

“It is unusual (for the area). We are in an active El Nino pattern, and that brings more winter weather activity,” he said. “We have not seen three snow events over a few month period in seven years in the area like it has this year.”

Local schools are approaching the weather on a wait and see basis. The Natchez-Adams School District’s after school programs have been canceled, but school is in session Thursday at all local schools.

Mississippi Department of Transportation Executive Director Larry “Butch”

Brown said MDOT will use whatever de-icing materials they have in their stockpile, which includes salt and fine grade stone that will provide skid resistance.

MDOT will remove accumulation as much as possible to keep the bridges and approaches free of snow and ice, and Brown added that closing the Mississippi River bridges is highly unlikely.

Natchez City Engineer David Gardner said he has made sure the fuel tanks are full in case the city needs to use generators. They have also brought in sand, and will have extra workers on standby to handle the roadwork.

Adams County Emergency Management Director Stan Owens has been in constant contact with local officials in providing updates. He also has brought in sand, but still expects the roads to be hazardous.

“Anyone who has to get out, proceed with caution,” he said. “Make sure to check on your elderly neighbors and protect your plants and outdoor animals.”

The Krewe of Phoenix parade still plans to roll at 5 p.m. Friday, and the Grand Ball will be unaffected, said Curtis Moroney, who is in charge of coordinating the floats.

“We have never had a parade in Natchez in the snow, so it could be fun,” he said. “The great thing about bad weather is it keeps the weaklings away, which means more beads for the diehards.”