HED: Snow surprises NE Miss.

AUTHOR: EILEEN

HED: Snow surprises NE Miss.

By Eileen Bailey

Daily Journal

Long after the snow that fell on Northeast Mississippi Thursday night and Friday morning began to melt, it continued to cause problems for drivers.

At about 3:30 p.m. Friday, Betty Shettles was preparing to leave her New Albany job as a dispatcher for the state Highway Patrol when she saw traffic backed up from an 18-wheeler that jack-knifed because of the icy road conditions.

That scene was just one of the many things Shettles saw or heard about after a surprise snowfall dumped up to 8 inches of snow on parts of the area Friday. About two inches fell in the Tupelo area.

A spokesman with the National Weather Service in Memphis said more snow was possible Friday night but it would bring no additional accumulation.

Gradual thaw

Lows were expected to dip down into the 20s Friday night and some of the slushy snow and ice left on roads could freeze over, said Meteorologist Andy Sniezak. He warned motorists to be careful driving over bridges and overpasses.

Temperatures were expected to rebound into the high 40s today with lows in the 30s. There is a 30 percent chance of rain Sunday with highs in the 50s and lows in the upper 30s.

Shettles said New Albany received 8 inches of snow.

Other parts of Northeast Mississippi, especially in Tippah, Benton and Marshall counties, received large amounts of snowfall, which closed many schools, industries and businesses. It also caused power outages.

“We had a power outage for at least two hours in New Albany,” Shettles said.

Many law enforcement agencies reported cars off the road or minor accidents because of the snow.

Shettles said at one point Friday morning more than 100 18-wheeler trucks were brought to a standstill on U.S. Highway 78 in Benton County for up to four hours.

Even though there were several accidents, Shettles said her office has received no reports of injuries. There were some problems on Mississippi Highway 72 because of the snow. None of the roads in New Albany’s district were closed, she said.

A spokeswoman for the Starkville Highway Patrol said one accident because of weather was reported in Calhoun County.

County law enforcement officials also saw problems because of the snow.

What caused it

We’re already seeing some melting,” Union County Sheriff Joe Bryant said at midday Friday. Our main roads are all open but some are still dangerous in spots.”

Bryant, as was the case with law enforcement departments elsewhere in the snow area, reported a rash of fender-benders due to the icy roadways.

The sheriff said some snow was falling when he went to bed Thursday night but, as was the case with most people in the snow area, he was surprised at the intensity of the storm.

The problems with the snow developed after an upper level disturbance moved into the area faster than predicted, Sniezak said.

“The precipitation lasted longer than we through it would,” he said. “The precipitation held on until the cold air came in.”

Leisha Thompson, a communications officer with the Lee County Sheriff’s Department who lives in Itawamba County and daily drives the 35 miles to work in Tupelo, said the heavy snow came as a complete surprise.

I couldn’t believe it when I looked out this morning,” she said. Actually, I think everybody was surprised.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.