Weather outlook gets grimmer

djournal-weather-winterBy Errol Castens

Daily Journal

A winter storm advisory effective today from noon through 9 p.m. includes Marshall, Lafayette, Benton, Union, Tippah and Alcorn counties of Northeast Mississippi.

The National Weather Service in Memphis expects as much as a quarter-inch of ice accumulation when freezing rain begins forming this afternoon.

“We’re hoping that the temperatures in the ground right now will keep the roads warm enough to keep this stuff from sticking there,” said Mitch Turner, district engineer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation in Batesville. “We’re preparing to put out sand and salt, with slag rock in some places where it’s needed.”

MDOT public information officer Kenny Footé said motorists should keep gas tanks sufficiently full to allow for detours and should report icy areas to law enforcement so maintenance crews can apply salt, sand or slag as needed.

Robert Latham, executive director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said the main concern is road icing and vulnerable residents.

“I encourage everyone to check on at-risk family, friends and neighbors, especially those with home health needs,” he said. “As always, remember to make sure your disaster supply kit is fully stocked in case of a loss of power for an extended period of time.”

Saturday night could bring a chance of further ice accumulation.

“Any precipitation that develops Saturday night will likely be in the form of rain, with maybe some freezing rain,” NWS meteorologist Corey Chaskelson said. “The closer you come (from eastern counties) toward Oxford and Holly Springs, the more likely it will be in the form of freezing rain.”

Much worse weather is expected in other parts of the Mid-South. Northeast Arkansas and northwest Tennessee may get as much as an inch of ice accumulation, which could wreak devastation on trees and power lines as well as making roads impassable.

errol.castens@journalinc.com