Record-breaking cold and ice that paralyzed area for week beginning to clear as temperatures rise

February 20th, 2021     Featured News General News

Weather this past week has tied or broken at least seven area records. Two fronts left northeast Mississippi with up to five inches of snow mixed with sleet, and some ice from freezing rain. Rising temperatures this weekend should bring the area back to normal by Monday night

The area escaped most freezing rain and any resulting power outages. However, the area experienced extreme cold with temperatures dropping to the single digits.

Governmental offices and many businesses were closed Monday through Friday. Garbage collection services were cancelled for the week in many northeast Mississippi service areas.

Things were looking better Friday with sunshine and above-freezing temperatures starting to melt the accumulated precipitation.

Many streets in much of northeast Mississippi had at least one lane open Friday. Thoroughfares were generally clear but many patches of snow and ice remained even on main streets by sundown Friday.

However, officials cautioned that the extreme low temperatures in the range of 14-16 degrees Friday night would cause the melted snow and sleet to re-freeze making driving very dangerous.

Residential streets throughout northeast Mississippi remained very slippery with icy buildup, especially in shaded areas.

Daytime temperatures Saturday are expected to rise to the mid forty-degree range, which will cause considerable melting of snow and ice. However, temperature will drop well below freezing Saturday night, likely creating many hazardous patches of ice on roadways

Union County Emergency Management Director Curt Clayton said most county roads remained in bad shape Friday. “They started plowing yesterday,” he said late Friday, “but Hwy. 9 is still very bad and so is 348, in the Blue Springs and Alpine area. I think they will be pretty good by Saturday and all clear Sunday,” he said. “County crews will be working again Saturday.”

A question was raised as to whether the melting snow and ice could lead to flooding. “It will be a slow runoff,” Clayton said. “I don’t see a flooding issue, but next week, after that other rain comes in, it could be different.”

Most city and county governments expect to be more or less back to normal routines Monday. Workers will double up on garbage collection.

Unlike other parts of Mississippi, our area experienced no widespread power outages. However, many Mississippi counties further south experienced serious interruptions of electrical service because of freezing rain, which broke tree limbs and downed power lines.

Law enforcement appeared to spend most of its time this week aiding motorists who were stuck or had slid off the road. In fact, the number of incidents was too much to keep up with, until the week’s dispatch log is complete. “I would hate to guess but it was a lot,” Union County Sheriff Jimmy Edwards said. Edwards knew of no serious injuries in the county other than a woman breaking a leg in a sledding accident.

New Albany Police Chief said his department was answering a lot of snow-related calls as well but a majority seemed to be 18-wheelers. Many were stuck on I-22 but others were scattered around the area.

This week’s storm broke several records concerning temperature and snowfall.

Tupelo, the official National Weather Service office for northeast Mississippi, reported the following records:

Feb. 13 – record low high temperature for the date of 32 degrees, tying a record set in 1960.

Feb. 14 – record low high temperature for the date of 26 degrees. breaking old record of 30 degrees in 1943.

Feb. 15 – record low temperature of  for the date of 13 degrees breaking an old record of 15 in 1943.

Feb. 15 – record snowfall of 1.8 inches for the date, breaking an old record of a trace in 2010.

Feb. 15 – record low high temperature of 25 degrees, breaking a record of 33 degrees set in 2010.

Feb. 16 – record snowfall of a trace tying an old record of a trace set in 1937.

Feb. 17 – record snowfall for the date of 2.0 inches, breaking old record of a trace set in 1937.

In the reporting area, the temperature did not get up to or above the freezing point from Sunday, Feb. 14, until late Thursday afternoon, Feb. 18. It was not clear whether this was a record but the normal temperature range for this time of year is from the mid-50s in daytime to mid-30s at night.

The extended below-freezing weather did cause some flooding from burst water lines in one unoccupied warehouse building and one unoccupied commercial building in New Albany. It was possible more breaks would show up after temperatures rose Friday.

The northeast Mississippi weather forecast local temperatures above freezing from Sunday through the next couple of weeks.

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