Coldest weather in 20 years heading our way
BY JOE B. COATES
Before this week’s edition of the Courier hit the racks and the mailboxes, Copiah Countians had already experienced several days worth of bone chilling temperatures. A mass of arctic air moved into the area earlier in the week, dropping temperatures some 15 degrees below normal highs and lows and wind chill readings even lower. On Monday, grocery stores were full of shoppers buying up the basics, preparing for the long-haul. Plumbers were already taking calls to shore up exposed pipes and readying to mobilize once the hard freeze hits.
That afternoon at Copiah County Emergency Management, director Randle Drane and 911 coordinator Ricky Stevens listened as Eric Carpenter, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, described during a webcast that was heard in EOC’s throughout the state what his agency expected Mother Nature to do over the next several days.
“The area will experience temperatures not seen since at least 1996, and may even drop to those as cold as 1989,” Carpenter said.
A quick look at the Courier archives on Monday revealed a brief story about the bitter cold that struck Copiah County in ‘89. Area hardware stores couldn’t keep plumbing supplies on their shelves, and plumbers worked through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to repair hundreds of burst pipes, according to the story. Grocery stores, too, were overwhelmed with shoppers rushing to purchase milk, bread, canned goods and many other items necessary with which to survive the cold weather. Thankfully, no ice storm or snow event caused power outages, and the cold weather was simply a major inconvenience to area residents who are used to milder winter temperatures.
Much of the recent cold has been part of a very dry high pressure system that sits over the center of the country. Carpenter said that Copiah County is in an area that will receive some rain on Thursday morning that will last until around noon. A slight chance exists that some of the precipitation will be freezing as it tapers off.
The main threat is from the extremely cold air that will be moving in on Thursday evening, which could cause low-lying wet areas on roadways and some bridges to freeze. Lows on Thursday heading into Friday will be in the 10-15 degree mark, followed by a high on Friday of around 24. Carpenter said that the north wind of 10-15 miles per hour will make the outside feel like single digits on Thursday night, Friday and into Saturday. Weekend highs will recover to the mid-40’s and lows will remain at or below 20 degrees.
Drane and Stevens urged extreme caution and for area residents to stay indoors as much as possible during the extreme cold snap, which is forecast to last until the middle of next week. Copiah County EMA will continue to monitor the weather, along with the National Weather Service, the Copiah County Sheriff’s Department, and other local agencies, Drane said.
“Take the normal cold weather precautions and check on your neighbors. And, as always, make sure your source of heat is safe. We don’t want any fire-related tragedies to occur,” Stevens added.