This week’s historically cold and icy weather may have crossed its pinnacle.
With the precipitation that fell Wednesday night, the Greenwood area mostly likely has seen for now its last layer of snow, sleet and freezing rain that has made driving treacherous and threatened power lines.
According to Thomas Winesett, a meteorologist with the Jackson office of the National Weather Service, the area received a little over 1 inch of sleet and ice from its second winter storm in four days. Since Sunday, according to the weather service’s measurements, the total accumulation of frozen precipitation has been about 4 inches — little of which has melted as of Thursday. No further ice or snow is expected this week.
Although it’s not uncommon for the Greenwood area to get cold weather, Winesett said, it’s unusual for it to linger as long as it has this week.
“This is some of the longest cold and ice we have had,” he said.
Mark Holley, an engineer with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, said the back-to-back winter storms were like nothing he has experienced before.
“I have worked with MDOT over 25 years and have never seen such an event,” Holley wrote on Facebook. “Some might say we were not prepared. But in reality, we were more prepared than we have ever been.”
He continued, “I sincerely hope that in 25 plus years from now, we are still talking about this event as the ‘worst one ever.’”
Typically, this time of year, the average low temperature in Greenwood is around 37 degrees, Winesett said. The lowest temperature recorded in the city this week was 13 degrees on Tuesday.
The all-time record low temperature for the Greenwood area was minus-4 degrees, which occurred on Feb. 3, 1951, Winesett said.
For Friday, the service predicts that the weather will be mostly sunny, with a high near 32, before dropping to around 13 at night. A high near 42 is expected Saturday, followed by a low of 27.
“It is probably not going to be until Saturday that we see any melting,” said Ed Traver, another meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “We have a couple of cold nights coming, with lows about 15 to 20 degrees (Thursday) and 10 to 15 degrees Friday night.”
As long as ice remains on roads, it will continue to be dangerous to drive.
Mississippi Highway Patrol Sgt. Ronnie Shive said there were multiple incidents throughout the area from Wednesday into Thursday morning.
According to data from the Highway Patrol’s Troop D — which includes Leflore County — investigated five crashes and had received 29 calls for service.
Shive said a number of vehicles veered off the road, but as of Thursday, no injuries had been reported. “We are swamped at the moment,” Shive said via text.
A tweet Thursday morning from Troop D said troopers are “reporting terrible road conditions this morning with iced-over bridges along with multiple vehicles off the roadway” and advised drivers to remain home.
Jerry Smith, Leflore County’s road manager, said that despite the additional ice and snowfall, 80% of the county’s roads remained drivable. “We’re looking pretty good,” he said Thursday.
Wednesday night’s accumulation of ice caused tree limbs to fall onto various roadways and highways in Carroll County, said Ken Strachan, the county’s emergency management director.
MDOT, the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department and Carroll County road crews have since removed the limbs, Strachan said.
There were also reports of water outages in southwestern Carroll County.
North Carrollton’s town hall, which was closed Thursday, will remain closed Friday, Strachan added.
Wednesday’s storm produced a surge in power outages, with nearly 200,000 reported a-cross Mississippi by Thursday morning. Locally, Delta Electric Power Association had 3,000 customers in the dark Wednesday night throughout southern Carroll County, northern Holmes County and southern Montgomery County, said David O’Bryan, general manager of Delta Electric.
By Thursday morning, the number without power was down to 1,400. O’Bryan said he expects all to have power by Friday.
Greenwood Utilities fared much better. Only one customer lost power Wednesday night and four customers had to have their water disconnected because of frozen pipes, according to Brian Finnegan, CEO of Greenwood Utilities.
Given the amount and nature of the frozen precipitation, Finnegan said, “We did very, very well.”
One fear has been the possibility of rolling blackouts, which have been used in some areas of Mississippi and elsewhere in the South to conserve energy during the storm. Since it appears that the worst of the storm has passed and warmer weather is on the way, Finnegan and O’Bryan said that possibility has now greatly diminished.
An interactive map showing power outages throughout Mississippi on www.poweroutage.us reported that as of Thursday morning, 20% of homes and businesses in Carroll County were without power, while Leflore, Sunflower, Grenada and Tallahatchie counties all had less than 10%.
By late Thursday afternoon, about half of those in Carroll County had had their service restored.
Post offices in the greater Greenwood area will be closed again Friday as a result of the weather. The only day this week the post offices attempted to deliver mail was Wednesday, and service was limited.
David Walton, a spokesman for the Mississippi section of the USPS, said the weather has made it difficult not only for carriers to get out but also for letters and packages to get to the post offices from regional distribution centers. Memphis is a major hub for mail headed to Mississippi from out of state, but heavy snow there has delayed those deliveries.
Many Greenwood stores have remained closed or have adjusted their hours because of the conditions.
Greenwood Market Place closed at 6 p.m. Thursday. Management at Walmart on U.S. 82 could not be reached for an update, but the store had closed at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Save A Lot on West Park Avenue closed at 4 p.m. Thursday.
All elementary and secondary school campuses are closed until Monday.
Mississippi Valley State University’s campus in Itta Bena as well as all Mississippi Delta Community College locations are closed through the rest of the week.
Greenwood City Hall was closed again Thursday. A Facebook post from the mayor’s office said city crews will continue to add more salt to all bridges within the city limits and that 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 has said that when the weather shifts, the city will resume the service and work through the weekend if necessary to catch up on collection.