Weather woes in NEMS again

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Northeast Mississippi’s latest round of snow brought wrecks, wrecks and more wrecks.
It also helped Tupelo set a record for snow in one winter.
Wednesday night, snow fell in the area for at least the fourth time since Christmas, forcing schools and businesses to close yet again and creating hazardous driving on the roads and highways.
According to at least one law enforcement official, the problems were more severe than they were when about 6-8 inches fell on Jan. 9-10.
“When we had that big snowfall, it happened overnight so the road crews got a chance to get out and get things better prepared for motorists,” said Oxford Police Chief Mike Martin. “But this stuff started hitting at 12 noon and it was frozen slick by the time people woke up Thursday. This was as bad as it got.”
According to the National Weather Service in Memphis, 5.3 inches of snow fell in Tupelo this week, breaking a record for snowfall in one winter with about 13.5 inches. The previous record was just shy of a foot in 1935-36.
Vehicles were skidding and sliding almost immediately after the snow began to fall Wednesday, and the problems continued through Thursday morning, long after the snow had stopped falling.
Mississippi Highway Patrolman Ray Hall said more than 10 18-wheelers jack-knifed on U.S. Highway 78 alone, causing the highway to be shut down while towing companies worked to get them back on the road. Trucks also were overturned on Highway 45 in Tupelo and Highway 15 South in Pontotoc.
In Tupelo, more than 50 automobile accidents – either collisions or vehicles sliding off the roads – kept patrolmen busy.
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said one of his deputies skidded on a patch of ice and slide into a concrete barrier while responding to a call Thursday. The car was damaged, but Johnson said the deputy was uninjured.
Martin described his department’s snow experience in one word – busy. Martin said that from noon Wednesday through Thursday, his officers worked 12 collisions and assisted at least 20 motorists who had skidded into ditches.
Both Martin and Tupelo Police Maj. Jackie Clayton said no one was seriously injured in the accidents. Clayton said a lot of the accidents in Tupelo were due to speed and following too closely behind other vehicles.
“No matter how good a driver you are, it was just hard to drive on the roads this morning,” said Clayton. “Some people got in a hurry and ended up skidding. We didn’t have any serious injuries, a few scrapes, but our officers were busy.”
Even though subfreezing weather was expected Thursday night, the forecast had better news for the rest of the week and beyond. Temperatures are expected to gradually rise into the 50s and mid-60s, starting Saturday and continuing into next week.
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@journalinc.com.

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