Officials worry about road, bridge conditions as winter weather worsens

Published 8:50 am Friday, January 6, 2017

Winter weather arrived in Vicksburg with a vengeance Friday morning when temperatures dipped below freezing and residents awoke to sleet and freezing rain.

Mark McAllister, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, said a road sensor on the Mississippi River Bridge at Vicksburg indicated its surface temperature was at 29 degrees at 8 a.m.

“You may have some icing issues on bridges through tonight,” McAllister said. He said his agency was already receiving reports of icing on bridges in Madison Parish, La.

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Precipitation arrived from the south into Vicksburg and Warren County during early morning hours on Friday. Porters Chapel Academy will release students from school at 10 a.m. Friday because of the winter weather.

McAllister predicted the area could get less than a quarter inch of freezing rain and less than a half an inch of sleet through midnight, when precipitation should leave the area. He said it’s possible Vicksburg and Warren County could receive a half an inch to an inch of snow, too, but snow is more likely in north Mississippi counties.

As precipitation exits, a bone-chilling blast of cold air will enter, plunging temperatures to near 20 degrees.

“After midnight tonight, it’s going to get cold. And I’m talking about a hard, freezing cold with lows near 20 and dewpoints in the teens. We will get a reinforcing shot of cold air coming into the area today and tonight,” he said.

With wind gusts around 20 to 30 miles per hour tonight, it will feel like the upper teens tonight and on Saturday.

“It will be really cold tonight, but winds will be calmer tomorrow night,” McAllister said.

The National Weather Service forecast for Vicksburg and Warren County calls for a chance of snow and sleet tonight before 7 p.m., then a chance of snow between 7 p.m. and 3 a.m. It will be cloudy this early evening, then gradual clearing with a low around 20. Chance of precipitation is 40 percent.

Forecasters call for sunny skies on Saturday with a high near 34. Saturday night will have clear skies with a low near 19. Winds will be north northeast from 10 to 15 miles per hour with gusts as high as 20 miles per hour.

Sunday will be sunny with a high near 43, forecasters predict.