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Story Archives: Region in grips of Old Man Winter
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|Region in grips of Old Man Winter|
Freezing temperatures mixed with precipitation this week could result in wide-spread power outages, forcing Ouachita Parish officials to open shelters for local residents.
Ouachita Parish Homeland Security director Butch Beckham said Red Cross would be prepared to provide shelters for local residents. He expects Red Cross to open a shelter in Monroe and another in West Monroe if enough people are in need of a place to stay this weekend.
National Weather Service forecasters, based in Shreveport, said some of the toughest winter weather conditions northeast Louisiana has seen in years was expected to develop late Wednesday (yesterday). Rain mixed with sleet was forecast for Wednesday night. Precipitation was expected to turn into snow Thursday (today) morning. Up to a one-half inch accumulation was forecast.
Conditions could be similar to an ice storm that gripped the region in 1996 which caused numerous power outages and road closures.
Forecasters say northeast Louisiana will experience sub-freezing temperatures until Saturday night. Freezing conditions could cause exposed water lines to break as well as result in road closures as water along roadways freeze, Beckham said.
Temperatures expected to remain below freezing through Friday and Saturday, with the coldest temperatures expected area-wide Saturday morning.
Standing water should begin to freeze Thursday, and remain frozen through Saturday. Temperatures should drop as low as 10 degrees Friday and Saturday.
"And, we could be in the single digits, so it's going to be awfully cold here," Beckham said. "North of I-20, most of the temperatures will be in the teens beginning Friday, and just about all day Saturday, it's not supposed to climb too much."
"Depending on how much moisture that's behind the cold front coming down … if it's a lot, then we'll get a lot of misty, freezing rain," Beckham continued. "As soon as that happens, we will probably have to open shelters if we have a lot of power outages, which is highly possible. We would need to open shelters if we have large power outages with enough people who don't have a warm place to go to, or if they didn't have a fireplace in their home to keep warm."
"Just in case we don't miss the bullet, we'll be prepared," he added.
Ouachita Parish Public Works director John Tom Murray said his department was prepared for any road closures that might occur during the weekend.
Bridges and overpasses could ice over and Murray expects plenty of sand will be used to make them passable.
Local officials urged residents to be prepared for these freezing conditions.
Beckham said if people can afford a generator, he suggested making that investment. If people have fireplaces in their home, local officials suggest they stock up on firewood.
Other winterization tips include:
Insulate pipes, especially those near exterior walls of your home. Insulate pipes with insulation, newspapers or plastic and allow faucets to drip to avoid freezing. If pipes freeze, remove insulation and wrap rags around the pipes to absorb moisture during thawing;
Keep plenty of blankets on hand;
Have plenty of water (at least one gallon per person for three days) in the event pipes freeze;
Keep your cell phone charged.
Also parish officials warn residents to keep an eye on space heaters as these devices often result in fires during winter months.