The Greenwood area was receiving a new layer of ice Wednesday, as a mixture of snow, sleet and freezing rain was expected to further compound already dangerous road conditions and increase the risk of power outages.
For the second time this week, the region was put under a winter storm warning, with the National Weather Service predicting that as much as a half-inch of ice and 3 inches of sleet were possible before the system moved out by noon Thursday.
Alan Campbell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Jackson, said the layers of ice will not start melting to any significant degree before the weekend.
“It looks like, unfortunately, Greenwood will be at or below freezing for the rest of the work week,” he said.
Low temperatures through Friday night are expected to be in the teens and highs only reaching the low 30s. Most of the frozen accumulation will not begin to melt until Sunday, when the highs reach the low 50s, Campbell said, warning that roads will continue to be treacherous for the rest of the week.
Mississippi Highway Patrol Sgt. Ronnie Shive said Wednesday morning that there had been one major accident in Leflore County.
Shive said that a single-vehicle accident occurred on Mississippi 442 just inside Leflore County around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday when a pickup truck went off the road and crashed into a tree.
Shive said there was only one person in the truck, and that person had significant injuries.
“He was hurt pretty good,” Shive said in a text message.
The state trooper who arrived at the scene thinks the driver “was there around an hour in the 17-degree temperature before someone found him,” Shive said. “He’s very lucky to be alive.”
A Facebook post from the Highway Patrol Wednesday morning showed that the area under which Leflore County falls has had 37 weather-related incidents since Sunday, mostly cars getting stuck in highway medians or sliding off roadways.
Greenwood Police Chief Terrence Craft said Wednesday that there had been no reported car wrecks in the city.
The Leflore County road manager, Jerry Smith, said he and his team were sending out several workers to try and ease travel dangers.
Smith said he has been following news from the Mississippi Department of Transportation, which has reported multiple incidents throughout the state, but he said as of Wednesday afternoon local roads were in “pretty good shape.” The only section that needed to be completely shut down was a bridge on County Road 512, he said.
Robert Collins, the vice president of the Leflore County Board of Supervisors, said the county road system is “fighting” the weather by sending crews out to add gravel to give motorists traction in needed areas.
“We’re trying to keep everything clear in case we need to get an ambulance in there tonight,” Collins said Wednesday.
Another large concern because of the weather has been the fear of power being shut off.
There have been, however, no new reported power outages, both David O’Bryan, general manager of Delta Electric Power Association, and Brian Finnegan, CEO of Greenwood Utilities, said Wednesday morning.
There have been rolling blackouts throughout Mississippi and other parts of the South as a method to conserve energy amid the widespread winter storm. But Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), the regional transmission organization that manages the electric grid covering the territories of Greenwood Utilities and Delta Electric, has not asked either utility’s wholesale power provider to conduct load sheddings, both Finnegan and O’Bryan said Wednesday morning. Greenwood Utilities gets its electricity from the Municipal Energy Agency of Mississippi (MEAM), and Delta Electric from Cooperative Energy.
It was MISO that directed Entergy Mississippi to conduct controlled power outages from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday.
As of Wednesday, O’Bryan said the communication between Cooperative Energy and MISO indicated no planned power outages were needed yet; Finnegan said the same of communications between MEAM and MISO.
O’Bryan said, however, that this could change at a moment’s notice. “Things can change very quickly with the weather,” he said.
Should there be any planned power outages, Delta Electric would alert the public, O’Bryan said. “We’re just hoping we can get through the next couple of days without any issue,” he said.
Meanwhile, Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley was encouraging consumers to make voluntary cutbacks on their energy consumption.
In Carroll County, the Board of Supervisors and the municipalities of Carrollton, North Carrollton and Vaiden filed an emergency proclamation based on the weather and sent a resolution to Gov. Tate Reeves requesting he declare a state of emergency, according to a prepared statement released by Ken Strachan, director of Carroll County’s emergency management and mayor of North Carrollton.
On Wednesday, Strachan said there have been reports of motorists who could not travel up hills because of the ice.
Although salt has been applied on various hilly roads, it has not been able to melt the ice, he said.
A new strategy the county is implementing is using backhoes to scrape off ice covering various hilltop roads, Strachan said.
A Facebook post from Carrollton said the Carroll County Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff’s Department are “asking the public to please stay off of the roadways.”
Post offices reopened around the state Wednesday, and carriers were delivering the mail, although service was expected to be limited by road conditions.
Mail was not delivered Monday because of the Presidents’ Day holiday or Tuesday because of the winter storm.
Meanwhile, several stores in the area have remained closed or have adjusted their hours because of the winter conditions.
Greenwood Market Place adjusted its hours of operation again Wednesday, closing at 1 p.m. Walmart on U.S. 82 closed at 5 p.m.
All elementary and secondary school campuses in the area were to remain closed at least through Thursday. The only schools that might still open Friday would be Pillow Academy and Delta Streets Academy, which had not announced their intentions as of late Wednesday afternoon.
Mississippi Valley State University said in a Facebook post that its campus would be closed for the rest of this week and only essential personnel are asked to report to work at the Itta Bena campus.
All Mississippi Delta Community College campuses are closed through Thursday. Classes will meet virtually, although residence halls and cafeterias will remain open. The two-year college does not hold classes on Fridays.
Greenwood City Hall was closed for a second straight day Wednesday “due to inclement weather conditions and for the safety of the city employees,” a Facebook post from the mayor’s office said. City crews will continue to add more salt to all bridges within the city limits. If anyone in the city needs a warm place to shelter, call Emergency Management at 299-2600.
The city has not picked up garbage or trash this week because of the ice-covered roads.
Mayor Carolyn McAdams said that when the weather lifts, the city will resume the service and work through the weekend if necessary to catch up.