With a winter storm covering the Greenwood area in ice, snow and sleet, observers are giving simple advice: Stay home.
Joanne Culin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, said the service is monitoring the area and the frigid weather.
By 9 a.m. Monday, there was a report of 2 to 2.5 inches of sleet collected in Greenwood.
“Conditions are going to get really cold (Monday) night,” Culin said. “We are looking at low temperatures around 3 degrees. It’s a very cold air mass, and then anything that’s accumulated helps keep it cold. … In addition to the low temperatures, you are going to have wind chills below zero at times. It looks like we have wind chills around negative-4 to negative-6 degrees by (Tuesday) morning.”
Culin advised staying home as much as possible, saying that this “really is not a time to be out at all.”
“The unfortunate part is we aren’t going to warm up (Tuesday),” she said. “We’re going to remain in the lower 20s (Tuesday) and then dip back down to the teens again (Tuesday night). So, anything that’s on the roadways or the ground from this precipitation is going to stay. It’s not going to be one of our typical melt-by-late-afternoon winter events that we get.”
More icy weather could be on the way as well.
The National Weather Service is predicting a mixture of snow, sleet, freezing rain and rain beginning Wednesday afternoon and continuing into Thursday morning.
Culin said it will be important to remain vigilant as the cold temperatures linger.
“It’s really going to compound problems for travel,” she said. “Nothing has melted, or (it) won’t completely melt, and then we’ll have this other weather system moving through and kind of dumping on top of it.”
Greenwood Mayor Carolyn McAdams also is urging residents to stay inside.
“Our city streets are very bad, and some of them are just not passable,” she said, adding that the situation is just as bad on U.S. 82.
Because the city lacks a snowplow or other equipment to clear the streets, in part because snow is so rare in the Delta, there’s not much the city can do, McAdams said.
Municipal workers have applied salt to the city’s two bridges — the Kessler and Veterans bridges, which connect north and south Greenwood — to ensure residents can get from one part of town to another.
On U.S. 82, the Mississippi Department of Transportation was applying sand and salt to the bridges. The highway itself and the city streets, however, will remain packed with snow until it melts, meaning the best thing to do for the time being is to stay inside, the mayor said.
Roads in other parts of Leflore County are just as bad, said Jerry Smith, the county’s road unit manager.
The county has been using a motor grader — machinery typically used to flatten a surface during street repavement projects — to move snow off Baldwin Road, where the Sheriff’s Department’s building is, before continuing onto other roads, Smith said.
“We definitely are trying to keep the roads opened up,” he said.
Bridges throughout the county have also been salted. One bridge, on County Road 512, was closed for safety reasons because its elevation makes it more prone to freezing, Smith said.
Meanwhile, electric providers say they are working hard to keep residents warm.
Brian Finnegan, CEO at Greenwood Utilities, said as of Monday morning there had not been any power outages: “So far, so good.”
Leading up to the storm, the utility company had been patrolling the area to make sure there were no limbs or items that could cause outages should they become weighted down with ice, Finnegan said. He also said that Greenwood Utilities has four contract crews on deck if needed.
“Our slogan here is ‘Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst,’” he said.
David O’Bryan, general manager of Delta Electric Power Association in Greenwood, said that the cooperative had seen only a few isolated problems. “It’s been very minimal with no widespread outages,” he said. “Fortunately, we’re in pretty good shape right now.”
O’Bryan said he has been in talks with the Electric Cooperatives of Mississippi, a service organization encompassing the state’s electric power associations, in case extra relief is needed.
Fred Randle, Leflore County’s emergency management director, said a warming shelter may open up at the Greenwood Youth Center, 918 W. Henry St., or at the Leflore County Agri-Center on Cypress Avenue should there be a significant amount of power loss in the county. If that becomes necessary, the number for the shelter will be 299-2600.
Brandon Presley, the public service commissioner for the state’s Northern District, said in a statement released Sunday afternoon that power outages across the region are likely due to ice accumulation and that there will be a strain on electric and gas systems from Monday to Tuesday, which is “unavoidable due to the nature of the storm and the fact that we may see an all-time demand on much of the state.”
To lessen the strain, Presley advised avoiding any unnecessary activities, such as washing and drying clothes, for the duration of the storm if possible.
In a release from Atmos Energy, the natural gas distributor said that due to the “historically low temperatures,” it is urging customers to limit their energy usage.
The company has issued several steps to do this:
• Lower the thermostat to 68 degrees and the water heater’s temperature to 120 degrees.
• Unplug electronic devices and turn off lights that are not in use.
• Reduce shower time, and avoid baths.
• Refrain from using large appliances such as the washer, dryer, oven and dishwasher.
• If you have a pool, do not use the pool heater.
• To minimize the risk of frozen pipes, leave faucets running at a trickle.
• Leave cabinet doors open and close all doors and windows to keep heat inside.
Highway Patrol Sgt. Ronnie Shive said he had heard of very few problems on the roads as of shortly before noon Monday.
“Luckily only stranded motorists. Not a single vehicle accident yet,” Shive said via text. “I’m out riding, and luckily everyone seems to be staying home. Virtually no traffic.”
Many businesses throughout the area were closed Monday as a result of the weather.
All schools in the area were closed for in-person classes, although some were already scheduled to be closed because of the Presidents’ Day holiday. The Greenwood Leflore Consolidated School District as well as Pillow and Carroll academies both announced that they will also be closed Tuesday. The Carroll County district will not return to in-person classes until Thursday but will continue with distance learning.
Mississippi Valley State University also closed its campus, allowing only essential personnel there. Other employees are instructed to telework with all classes being held virtually.
Also, according to a statement from the Mississippi State Department of Health, the drive-through vaccination appointments scheduled for Monday have been rescheduled for the same time on Sunday.