Local officials preparing for winter weather

Posted on Feb 10 2014 - 8:58am by Adam Ganucheau

Students slide down a hill after light snowfall occurred in Oxford late Friday night into early Saturday morning.
Thomas Graning I The Daily Mississippian

The threat of snow and ice accumulations in the area is causing local officials to make important safety decisions and other preparations. The question that students seem to obsess about when winter weather is forecast was heard around town yesterday: Will school be cancelled? At the time of The DM publication Sunday, no decision had been officially made.

“We are watching the situation very closely,” University of Mississippi Communications Director Danny Blanton said Sunday afternoon. “We are maintaining close contact with both the county and state emergency management agencies. We will probably make a decision sometime (Monday) about possibly suspending classes or canceling school altogether.”

The timing and intensity of the winter storm was also somewhat in the air Sunday, but meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Memphis were working hard to help the public know exactly what to expect and when.

“It looks like there will be around one to two inches of snow in Oxford, and light accumulations of ice,” NWS meteorologist John Moore said Sunday afternoon. “The timing appears to be between 3 p.m. Monday and noon on Tuesday. The weather certainly could cause a hinderance on travel in the area.”

That potential hinderance is something Lafayette County officials are preparing for today and tomorrow.

“What we have been trying to do is inform the public about how to stay safe,” said David Shaw, director of the Lafayette County Emergency Management Agency. “We are closely monitoring weather reports from the National Weather Service in order to ensure that we can keep people safe.”

Shaw said he stays in constant contact with the university and other local schools to keep them informed about potentially dangerous weather situations. In addition, the Lafayette County EMA communicates with the county road department, which is responsible for treating roads and bridges to help prevent them from freezing over and clearing any fallen trees or other debris from roadways.

“I would advise people to consider not traveling if at all possible after the precipitation begins,” Shaw said.

Students should check their university email accounts and be on the lookout for RebAlert text messages over the next couple of days regarding cancellations or suspensions of class.

Adam Ganucheau