Winter weather forces banks, businesses and schools to close early; creates havoc on roads

Published 4:41 pm Friday, January 6, 2017

A cold weather front bringing a combination of rain, sleet and snow hit Warren County early Friday morning, covering vehicles with ice and causing safety concerns on local roads and bridges.

The National Weather Service put the county under a winter weather warning about 4 p.m. Friday.

The cold weather was expected to continue through the weekend, with a high Saturday of 33 and a low of 20, and a high of 41 Sunday with a low of 28.

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Concern over the safety of employees forced city and county officials and some businesses to send workers home early. City and county offices closed at noon, while local banks closed at 1 p.m. The Outlets at Vicksburg closed at 2 p.m., mall general manager Jerry Chambers said.

“We plan to open tomorrow (Saturday) at our regular time, but we’ll wait and see what the weather does,” he said.

Despite the icy precipitation and cold weather, most roads and bridges in the city and county remained open Friday, although local officials were keeping an eye on the weather and potentionally changing road conditions.

“We had some bridges with ice, but we’ve been putting salt and sand, and the ice is pretty much gone,” city street superintendent Skipper Whittington said Friday. “We’re going to be watching and seeing what happens tonight and then go from there.”

Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong said police closed the bridge over the Kansas City Southern Railroad tracks on North Frontage Road between Iowa Boulevard and Washington Street as a precaution because of the weather.

“There is a slope going into that bridge, and we were concerned someone approaching it may lose control and hit or go off the bridge,” Armstrong said. “We lost a fire truck there several years ago.”

He said police could reopen access to the bridge Saturday, depending on the weather.

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said county roads and bridges were open.

“The county road department has been out slagging the bridges and keeping them open.

Pace said he put another shift on duty because of the weather, adding, “We will have a double shift on duty through midnight, then we see what happens from there.”

Despite the icy weather police and sheriff’s deputies worked few wrecks.

Sheriff’s deputies worked a one-car wreck on Fisher Ferry Road near Shady Grove Circle early Friday afternoon, where a car left the road and struck a tree, Pace said, adding no one was injured.

About 2:45 p.m. Friday, Vicksburg police worked a wreck involving an 18-wheeler and flatbed trailer the overturned in the westbound lane of Interstate 20 near the Indiana Avenue exit, which backed up westbound traffic on the highway.

Warren County Emergency Management director John Elfer said the icy precipitation was expected to leave the area by Friday night, with clear skies and cold temperatures to follow.

“We’re not supposed see anything else falling, but the cold temperatures tonight (Friday) will cause the standing water to freeze over, so we’ll have icing conditions in the morning,” he said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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