Area braces for heavy snowfall

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 12, 2010

NATCHEZ — Between five and nine inches of snow were expected to fall on the area Thursday night and this morning.

As of 3 p.m. Thursday, the last available advisory available before press time, the National Weather Service placed the area under a winter storm warning that will remain in effect until 2 p.m. today.

According to the NWS advisory, a deep low pressure system was expected to track across the northern Gulf of Mexico Thursday night, shifting to the east this morning and ending snowfall by this afternoon.

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The heaviest snowfall was expected between 10 p.m. Thursday and 10 a.m. this morning, Adams County Emergency Management Director Stan Owens said.

The NWS weather advisory said the amount of the expected snowfall accumulation could have the potential to bring down tree limbs and power lines and create adverse travel conditions.

“When you are talking about as much as four inches of snow coming in that amount of time, you are going to have some problems with roads, you are going to have some ice,” Concordia Parish Emergency Management Director Morris White said.

Along with ice, White said he expects some limbs to fall into roadways.

And while White said that he did not expect the weather to cause significant power outages for long periods of time, he said the emergency shelter at the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center was on standby in case it was needed.

Owens said Natchez and Adams County government and law enforcement officials met Thursday afternoon to plan for the storm, and necessary city and county crews were on standby with sand and road-clearing equipment.

“They are all sanded up and ready to go,” Owens said.

“People need to be real careful and only get out on the highways if they have to. In the morning it will be some really hazardous road conditions.”

Mississippi Department of Transportation Road Supervisor Bud Vines said MDOT would have someone in its office all night Thursday, and would have crews out watching the roads for ice and snow accumulation.

“We are going to watch the Mississippi River bridge pretty close so we can try to keep that bridge open, and all of the other bridges,” Vines said.

To do that, MDOT crews have tractors with box blades for scraping ice, sand spreaders and de-icing chemicals, Vines said.

The best thing to do during the storm is just stay home, Owens said.

“I am sure there will be some power outages, but people just need to take care of themselves and their neighbors,” he said.

Another concern to keep in mind is that, after snowfall ends Friday, it is expected to briefly warm to above freezing before again falling below the freezing mark, Owens said.

The melting and then refreezing of the water could result in black ice, he said.

“The water that is still on bridges and roads is going to puddle up, and it could freeze and cause more adverse conditions,” Owens said.