THAW BRINGS RELIEF, PROBLEMS
By Eileen Bailey
Puddles replaced ice on Northeast Mississippi roads Tuesday as temperatures rose above freezing for the first time in several days.
Residents, not waiting for Mother Nature to take her course, tackled parking lots with shovels and water hoses in hand. Piles of darkened ice scraped together by road crews sat in mounds along roadways.
The warming trend that moved into Northeast Mississippi Tuesday is expected to continue for the remainder of the week and into the weekend, said Charles Coleman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Memphis.
The high Tuesday reached 37, and the low was 28. Today’s high was expected be in the lower 50s with lows in the 40s, Coleman said. There is about a 50 percent chance of rain today.
Highs for Thursday and Friday are expected to be in the 60s and the lows in the 40s, he said.
The higher temperatures helped to crack the sheets of ice the covered roads, driveways and parking lots.
“Most of the ice should melt away today,” Coleman said.
Tupelo and Lee County schools were out Tuesday and will not report today. Tupelo officials said bad road conditions on smaller side streets, making it hazardous for school buses to maneuver on them, led to the decision to keep schools closed.
Warmer weather in Northeast Mississippi caused water problems as frozen pipes began to thaw. Johnny Timmons, manager of Tupelo Water & Light, said crews were out in the early morning hours working on a broken water main on Green Street. Electric crews were assisting the water crews in turning off water mains, meters and sprinkler systems because of the demand on services.
Timmons said residents should let water run for a while when service returns to a home. Some residents will experience air pockets in the lines and water will sputter until those are gone, he said.
“The city has normal pressure for water,” he said, adding that residents in Tupelo will not have to boil water.
Other areas in the county are not so lucky. The North Lee Water Association No. 2 in Lee County has been added to a “boil water” list in the wake of the ice storm.
According to the state Department of Health, when a public water supply loses pressure, contaminants can siphon back into the system. The department considers any water supply that loses pressure to be contaminated until lab tests prove otherwise.
People who have lost water pressure should bring their water to a rolling boil before it is safe for use. Drinking water should be boiled for at least one minute.
Mississippians can get the latest boil water update by calling the Health Info Line at (601) 203-2000 – a local call from any Mississippi phone – and pressing the Breaking News code 2002.
Driving conditions improve
Icy road conditions continued to cause problems Monday night and Tuesday morning. Sgt. H.L. Kitchens, a spokesman for the New Albany Highway Patrol, said U.S. Highway 78 and other highways were “tough” until midday Tuesday. But by afternoon driving conditions were better.
“Last night was real bad, but we have had no fatalities,” Kitchens said. “We have been lucky. We have had a lot of accidents but none serious.”
Paul Swindoll, district engineer for the Northern District of the Mississippi Highway Patrol, said the roads were in “real good shape” on Tuesday and will be in even better shape today.
Snow plows have been out on state highways since the ice storm hit on Thursday and will continue to be out until all of the snow and ice is gone, he said.
Major thoroughfares in Tupelo, such as Gloster, Main and Green streets, were almost free of ice on Tuesday afternoon. Some residential streets were also clear, although the majority still had patches of ice or slush on them.
Swindoll cautioned that drivers still may experience icy patches on parts of roads that were in the shade and on bridges.