Northeast Mississippians joined most of the rest of the country Monday in shivering through near record-low temperatures.
The mercury didn’t rise above 19 degrees all day in Tupelo, and this morning’s low was expected to be even colder than Monday’s low of 14 degrees, 1 degree above the record low for Jan. 6.
The region remained dry, however, and roads and travel remained unaffected, except for the motorists who experienced dead batteries or doors frozen shut from the cold.
A water line burst on Nelle Street in Tupelo, but otherwise the city and others in the region reported few weather-related problems.
Businesses dealing in weather-related merchandise and services were busy.
Schools were cautious. A few districts where students were scheduled to return to classes from the holiday break on Monday postponed reopening and some districts (see accompanying story) opted to open later than usual today.
The Tennessee Valley Authority said it was prepared for high demand and was working with local power companies like Tupelo Light & Water to ensure an uninterrupted supply of electricity.
TW&L director Johnny Timmons said Monday afternoon demand had not reached record levels and that no major problems had been encountered.
“Tupelo residents, candidly, use a lot of gas for heating, and that helps us in peak cold-weather demand,” Timmons said.
Timmons also oversees the water distribution lines, and he said some residents had called complaining of no water on Monday morning.
“Come Wednesday or Thursday, when these temperatures begin to rise, we’ll have all the calls we can handle trying to help keep houses from flooding and getting ruined when frozen pipes thaw and burst,” he said.
The weather prompted the Salvation Army in Tupelo to open its doors and waive normal lodging requirements so that the homeless would not be left out in the severe cold.
“Anyone and everyone who wants to stay is welcome,” said Susan Gilbert, director of social services for the Army.
With its lodge quarters full, the Army placed men in its gym and women in S.A.F.E facilities. Even so, the Army is taking measures to check on those who may lack access to heat.
“Of the ones I know of who sleep outside, the chronic homeless, who choose to remain on the street, they are all here,” Gilbert said. “We’re also checking on several of our clients, checking on them to make sure they have heat, and we’re making sure everyone has blankets.”
A transformer failed at Tombigbee EPA’s Mooreville substation early Monday evening, cutting power to customers in south Lee County and northwest Itawamba County.
Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley said he believed the failure was related to high demand related to the extreme cold.
Some weather “relief” – relatively speaking – was in store later today with the high expected to go all the way up to 30 degrees. Wednesday, it’s expected to reach a balmy 43.