Winter Storm Warning in Mississippi, some interstates impassable
This file was last updated 5:18 a.m. Feb. 18, 2021. Click here for the latest winter storm updates from the Clarion Ledger.
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The National Weather Service in Jackson has issued a winter storm warning for parts of Mississippi effective 6 a.m. Wednesday ahead of another storm system set to impact the region.
Travel is being heavily impacted. Sections of both I-20 and I-55 are impassable. At least one section of U.S. 49 South is also closed as are some state highways. Numerous other travel advisories are in place as areas are extremely dangerous.
Road crews from the Mississippi Department of Transportation have been working to treat roadways since late Monday night, but have cautioned drivers to avoid traveling unless absolutely necessary.
Scroll down for a list of road closures.
Hinds and Madison counties, as well as several other portions of central Mississippi and the Delta, will see more freezing rain and sleet as the storm passes through the region. According to the National Weather Service in Jackson, Bolivar County reported an additional 2 inches of accumulation by 10 a.m. and some eastern parts of the state will also be affected.
Much of the state is still contending with icy roadways, and conditions are expected to worsen with the coming storm. Drivers are urged to stay off roadways and only travel when absolutely necessary.
The warning will remain in effect until 6 a.m. Thursday.
Several state agencies and local government offices have either closed or shifted to remote work ahead of Wednesday's storm.
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Gov. Reeves: More challenges to come as winter weather continues
Mississippi will see more weather-related challenges in the coming days as several areas deal with power outages, impassable roadways and water issues, Gov. Tate Reeves said Wednesday.
Another storm system is moving through the region, which is expected to bring more freezing rain, sleet and snow to different areas of the state.
"One of the reasons this is so unusual is because virtually everyone is at risk, but everyone is at different levels of risk," he said.
In the Delta, forecasters have warned that more ice could form on already frozen roadways, making them impassable. In the Jackson area, residents are still contending with water issues and more power outages are possible throughout the night. Snow and ice storms are also expected in east Mississippi during the overnight hours, Reeves said.
Several advisories have been issued on highways across the state due to the storm and Reeves said the Mississippi State Highway Patrol has responded to hundreds of stranded motorist and accident calls this week. The Mississippi Department of Transportation has been working since Monday night to treat roads, but work has been difficult because ice is difficult to remove.
"We can plow snow, but it's very difficult to plow ice," Reeves said. "That's one of the reasons we've seen prolonged challenges."
Reeves urged residents to be safe, but also check in on friends and neighbors who may be struggling during the storm.
"Nothing can go further than checking on your neighbors and alerting authorities if they need help," he said.
Interstate and highway closures in MS
Authorities are warning against any travel unless necessary and road conditions remain dangerous. The following closures are in place according to MDOT as of 4 p.m. Wednesday. For the latest information on closures and advisories, visit mdottraffic.com.
- Closure, Madison County, MS 43 between Natchez Trace Parkway and Safe Harbor Circle, all lanes closed
- Closure: Newton, Rankin, Scott counties, I-20 between MS 503/Hickory/Decatur exit 115 and MS 43/Pelahatchie/Puckett exit 68, westbound lane closed
- Closure: Smith County, MS 35 between MS 18 and Scott County line, all lanes closed
- Closure: Simpson County, US 49 at MS 13 E, all lanes blocked northbound
- Closure: Simpson County, MS 28 between MS 43 and MS 13, all lanes closed
- Closure: Franklin County, US 98 between MS 184 and I-55, all lanes closed
- Closure: Marion County, MS 44 between MS 587 and River Bend Road, all lanes closed
Also, the Mississippi Highway Patrol in Brookhaven is reporting I-55 southbound is shut down for an unknown period of time.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol also issued a warning for motorists traveling in Simpson County.
Record lows set
According to the National Weather Service in Jackson, cities across the state recorded daily low temperatures on Tuesday.
Power outages continue for thousands
Although power has been restored to some, thousands of customers throughout the state remain without power.
As of 5:45 p.m. Wednesday, more than 60,000 customers were without power, according to PowerOutage.US.
The hardest-hit counties lie in a northeasterly line from Pike County to Kemper County. Counties in the northwestern part of the state have experienced significant numbers of outages as well during the storm.
Entergy Mississippi issued a statemen asking all its customers to voluntarily reduce their usage from until further notice, especially between 5 to 10 p.m. Wednesday. Record low temperatures forced the company to utilize rolling blackouts Tuesday night as demand has surged over the past few days. The company said reducing energy consumption now will stave off the need for more blackouts as the cold weather continues.
The company suggested that customers lower their thermostats to 68 degrees and delay non-essential activities like doing laundry and washing dishes until the conservation period has ended.
City of Jackson offices closed, trash services suspended Wednesday
The city of Jackson announced Tuesday that all administrative offices will remain closed Wednesday due to inclement weather. All employees who have been working remotely will continue to do so.
Trash collection throughout central Mississippi will also be suspended Wednesday. Waste management officials said service will resume when roadways are deemed safe to travel.
Boil water advisory still in effect for Jackson residents
Nearly 43,000 water customers in the city of Jackson remain under a boil water advisory after freezing temperatures affected water production Tuesday.
According to a news release, equipment at the city's water treatment plants was affected by the record cold and the plants can no longer maintain adequate water pressure. Some residents may experience low to no pressure when using faucets or appliances until the issue is resolved.
The city advises that all water should be brought to a rolling boil for one minute before use for the following:
- cooking or baking
- making ice cubes
- taking medication
- brushing teeth
- washing food
- mixing baby formula or food
- mixing juices or drinks
- feeding pets
- washing dishes
City officials said residents will be notified when the boil advisory has been lifted.
Water main breaks in Jackson
Jackson Public Works Director Charles Williams has said the city is preparing for an expected high volume of water main breaks. He encouraged the public to report any water main breaks or low water pressure by calling 311.
Some state health departments, vaccine sites closed Wednesday
The Mississippi State Department of Health has announced that only a few county health departments, WIC centers and offices in south Mississippi will be open Wednesday as wintry weather continues in the state.
Locations will be open in the following counties: Forrest, George, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Jones, Lamar, Pearl River, Perry, Stone and Wayne.
In addition, most of the state's drive-thru COVID-19 vaccination sites will also be closed Wednesday, except for those in Harrison, Jackson, Forrest and Jones counties. Anyone with an appointment at other sites will have their shot automatically rescheduled. The health department will contact affected residents by phone, text or email.
The health department also said its free COVID-19 testing in Calhoun, Copiah and Hinds counties will be canceled and anyone with an appointment is advised to reschedule. The Hancock County testing site will be open, officials said.
Jackson airport closures extended
Due to continuing hazardous conditions, the Jackson Municipal Airport authority has extended the suspension of service at Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers Airport and Hawkins Field.
Both airports are expected to reopen at 11 p.m. Friday.