BIG THAW EXPECTED TODAY
By Eileen Bailey
Bitter cold that has blanketed much of Northeast Mississippi with ice and snow since Thursday will be giving way to warmer weather today as the highs reach into the mid- to upper 40s.
A spokesman with the National Weather Service in Memphis said the highs could hit 45 in some areas and drop to the 30s for the lows.
This warming trend will continue through Wednesday when the high is expected to be in the upper 50s and there’ll be a 30 percent chance of rain. This warmer weather come on the heels of five days of record low temperatures. On Sunday, a record 4 degrees was recorded in Tupelo.
The low Monday was 7 and the high was 28 degrees. Temperatures were expected to drop into the lower 20s during the evening and early this morning, said the spokesman.
The low temperatures and icy road conditions forced schools to be closed again on Monday and caused problems for other residents. Students in the Lee County School District will not have school today. Superintendent Lynn Lindsey said that two snow days were built into the county school district’s calendar and will not have to be made up. He said he is unsure how today’s missed day will be made up by students.
Students in the Tupelo Public School District also will not report to school today. Tupelo School Superintendent Dr. Mike Vinson said that students will make up the three days missed during the icy weather on May 28 through 30. These make-up days were built into the year’s calendar, he said.
At ICC, day classes will not be held today, but night classes will go on as scheduled.
Several traffic accidents were reported Monday in the New Albany Highway Patrol District. “We are having them as fast as we can work them, especially the major highways,” said Capt. Johnny Kerr with New Albany Highway Patrol. Kerr said the major highways still had icy spots, especially U.S. Highway 78.
Drivers in many counties had problems staying on the icy roads. Spokesmen for the area sheriff’s departments reported numerous cars had slid off roads Monday and some minor accidents had occurred. But there were no reports of fatalities.
Ice also has caused problems for the Bay Springs Marina in eastern Prentiss County. Chris Mills, owner of the marina, said the covered floating docks were coated in 4 inches of ice. Because of the weight of the ice the dock was forced downward and has received some damage, he said.
Mills said he is not sure how much and what kind of damage the dock, which covered more than 40 boats, received. He said that there has been no damage to any of the boats in the marina.
The icy conditions also have caused numerous personal injuries. Kirk Soileau, assistant administrator for Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford, said their emergency room experienced a dramatic increase in injuries related to spills and falls on the icy roads and grounds.
Some of the injuries occurred when residents began to slide down ice-covered hills, he said.
“Our surgery was busy all day with orthopedic injuries,” Soileau said.
Len Grice, a spokesman for the North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, said more than 100 patients have been treated with ice-related injuries because of sledding or falls.
“We want people to just use a little sense. If you don’t have to get out, don’t,” he said.
A Corinth man was killed Saturday when he accidentally sledded into oncoming traffic on a residential street in Ripley.
The icy weather also has caused a blood supply shortage for the United Blood Services in Tupelo. United Blood Services will be open today and is seeking donors to replace supplies lost over the weekend. Many blood drives scheduled for throughout Tupelo and surrounding areas had to be postponed.
For more information about blood drives call (601) 842-8871.
On Monday 58 of 82 stores in the Mall at Barnes Crossing were open from midmorning until 5 p.m. Today the mall will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with all stores open.
Greg Polacheck, manager of the mall, said the mall may stay open later depending on road conditions. And some stores have planned to stay until 9 p.m., such as McRae’s and Kmart.