Possible icy conditions ahead in region

djournal-weather-winterBy Errol Castens

Daily Journal

TUPELO – It’s been almost 20 years since The Big One, but the Mid-South might be facing a lesser ice storm late this week.

Ironically, Wednesday could see highs in the mid- to upper 70s before the wintry weather approaches the region.

A National Weather Service in Memphis special weather statement that includes nearly all of Northeast Mississippi notes that an Arctic front moving southward under warmer, moist air moving northward could combine to create freezing rain.

“As the Arctic air filters into the region, rain will transition to freezing rain across northern sections of the Mid-South on Thursday night, spreading south to the Interstate 40 corridor by Friday morning and then into parts of North Mississippi by Friday afternoon,” the statement said. “The precipitation likely will mix with sleet and perhaps snow as the invading colder air deepens from northwest to southeast across the region.”

Accuweather.com predicts that icy mix will move in a swath from the Texas Panhandle to western New York, leaving Northeast Mississippi south of the frozen precipitation. The National Weather Service, however, predicted a better-than-even chance that freezing rain will reach the Magnolia State.

“It’ll be mainly Friday or Friday night in North Mississippi,” said forecaster Marlene Mickelson. “We’re saying a 50- to 60-percent chance there.”

The good news for area residents is the heaviest precipitation is expected to be Thursday, when temperatures for Northeast are expected to stay well above freezing. By Friday night, when surface temps may be low enough to cause rain to freeze, the predicted chance of precipitation is 40 percent.

“North Mississippi’s going to have the lightest amount,” said National Weather Service forecaster Marlene Mickelson. “The main stuff will stay in Tennessee and Arkansas.”

The ice storm of 1994 stretched across 10 states from Louisiana to West Virginia, with damages estimated at about $3 billion by the National Climatic Data Center. The storm left as many as 2 million people without power (some for as much as a month) and was blamed for nine deaths.

errol.castens@journalinc.com