Mid-South braces for second winter blast after getting hammered by ice and snow
It's not over. Not by a long shot.
After a deadly winter storm brought southern states to a standstill, another wave of cold and snow is on its way.
Five states in the mid-South are already in a state of emergency after a severe storm caused by a blast of southbound arctic air intersected with moisture moving north from the Gulf of Mexico.
Snow, ice and freezing temperatures closed schools, roads and COVID-19 vaccination sites on Tuesday. Mail and package delivery was delayed in many areas and utility crews are fighting to keep electricity service on as communities brace for yet another winter storm coming Wednesday and Thursday.
Ice and snow continue to cover parts of Alabama. Alabama Power crews worked to fix power outages in the western parts of their coverage area, and the University of Alabama canceled classes through Tuesday.
Alabama Public Health closed 29 health departments in northern, central and southwestern Alabama, delaying COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
Temperatures fell sharply Tuesday in Tuscaloosa with lows in the teens, which froze the previous rainfall. Light snow fell early Tuesday before temperatures rose to 38 in Montgomery. Flurries are expected to continue with temperatures dipping into the high 20s Tuesday night.
The winter storm caused temporary power outages in central and western Arkansas Tuesday morning as temperatures continued to drop. Fort Smith in western Arkansas registered -6 degrees, colder than in far northern global cities like Moscow, Anchorage and Fairbanks. Later in the day, temperatures rose to 21.
The city has received about 5 inches of snow and is expected to get an additional 4 to 8 inches overnight Tuesday and possibly Wednesday. By Thursday, some areas may have received as much as 11 inches. Public Schools and the University of Arkansas are closed through Wednesday.
Logan County, also in western Arkansas, has so far seen 4 to 8 inches in different parts of the county. Schools and health centers have closed in the northern part of the state, where Baxter and the Twin Lakes area got about 6 inches of snow. The area could receive up to 4 more by Wednesday.
Most Mississippi public schools, colleges and universities remain closed Tuesday as winter weather continues to grip nearly the entire state. Airports and COVID-19 vaccination sites have closed, and mail delivery service in many areas has also been affected.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation said large sections of Interstate 20 are closed for weather hazards and because of disabled vehicles along the road. Mississippi Highway Patrol said state troopers worked 695 weather-related calls between Sunday and 6 a.m. Tuesday morning.
State officials have advised against travel for the rest of the week as they brace for another winter storm expected to move in Wednesday and Thursday. Officials expect roads will remain hazardous until the weekend, as sub-freezing temperatures prevent ice melt or cause melted precipitation to refreeze into black ice along roads and bridges.
Temperatures rose in northern Louisiana Tuesday, but the respite won't last long. A winter storm warning is in effect Tuesday night through midday Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. Meteorologists expect 6 to 8 inches of snow in some parts of northwestern Louisiana.
The storm is bringing record lows to much of the state. The southern Louisiana cities of Houma and Thibodaux marked the coldest Mardi Gras on record, with early morning temperatures in the low 20s.
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A 74-year-old Lafayette woman died in the extreme weather conditions Monday night when she left her home to go to a neighbor's house for help. A 50-year-old man died in Lafayette the same day after slipping on a patch of ice.
West and Middle Tennessee
Memphis' lull between Monday's winter storm and the next one expected Tuesday night is a cold one. Overnight lows dipped to zero, with wind chills making it feel more like -15. Highs are expected to peak in the teens.
Parts of Memphis received up to 5 inches Monday night, and the city is expected to get between 5 and 7 more inches of snow by Thursday. Schools, public buildings and vaccine sites are closed for inclement weather.
Meteorologists don't expect snow to start melting in middle Tennessee until the weekend.
Between 1.5 and 2 inches of ice, sleet and snow had built up across Middle Tennessee as of early Tuesday morning, when lows hit -1. Snow showers are expected to start again Wednesday, transitioning to a wintry mix overnight and through Thursday. Nashville could receive 4 to 7 more inches of precipitation by Thursday night, according to forecasts.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation said that every middle Tennessee county has reported icy roads, patches of ice and snow and vehicle crashes. Wilson County officials said tractor-trailers are sliding off the road, with one falling onto its side.
Many Middle Tennessee public school districts were closed Tuesday, and some have said they may remain closed through the end of the week. COVID-19 vaccine sites in Davidson, Wilson, Rutheford and Wilson counties are also closed.