Weather Forecast

Be responsible on the roads
by Amanda Sexton Ferguson, Editor and Publisher
Feb 13, 2014 | 105 views | 0 0 comments | 121 121 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The winter weather earlier this week closed local schools, postponed community events, and sent everyone running to the grocery store to purchase bottles of water, batteries, milk and bread. Yep, I was there too to pick up the staples as well as formula and diapers for my seven-month-old.

As new parents and ridiculously overprotective, my husband even purchased a generator for the house to "at least keep the baby warm."

Meteorologists were predicting up to a quarter-inch of ice, and for those old enough to remember the ice storm of 1994, which occurred exactly 20 years ago this week, the threat of ice has most Mississippians preparing for Armageddon.

A freshman at Ole Miss in 1994, I remember that Thursday night when snow started falling on campus, and my roommate and I joined the large contingency of students gathered on the hill outside the dorm with their laundry baskets to sled. Ole Miss students could and still can turn any situation into a social event, and we stayed out late into the night freezing our tails off while we rolled, literally, down that hill.

The next morning, I woke up in to the sound of fire crackers echoing across the dorm parking lot. It was actually tree branches breaking and falling on power lines.

I will never forget that morning and the chaos on campus. I watched the majority of my fellow residents rush to pack up their cars and head toward Jackson or Tupelo or Memphis, but at the instruction of my father, I was to stay put. My roommate and I joined the handful of other students and spent the night in a pitch-black dorm with no hot water and only the snacks we had in our rooms.

The next morning, when half the state was without power and the likelihood of the electricity being repaired in the near future was slim to none, my father called and told me to pack up, grab my roommate and her twin sister and head north.

After chipping the solid ice blanket off my car with plastic CD cases just to open the doors, it took us six hours to drive from Oxford to Hernando to drop off my friends and another hour for me to make it home. It was the most stressful event in my entire life - even trumping childbirth, I kid you not. I still get chills thinking of driving over the Coldwater River Bridge, creeping along under five miles per hour while looking at the partially frozen water below.

So, on Tuesday night, while working on the paper at my Carrollton home, I listened to the sleet tap against the windows, fearing the worst possible outcome - loss of power and a community paralyzed by ice. Thankfully, we did not get a repeat of the 1994 ice storm, and this area was spared. However, I am afraid those living in Alabama and Georgia won't be that lucky.

Wednesday morning, after thawing the truck, I gingerly headed to Winona to get the paper sent to the press. Creeping along slowly for fear of black ice along with the other vehicles on the road, I headed east on Highway 82, and I made it to Winona without incident.

It appeared crews from the Mississippi Department of Transportation were busy throughout the night, as they usually are during inclement weather, as gravel was spread on bridges and low spots along the way.

We should all be grateful for MDOT's preparations in keeping the roadways as safe as possible during inclement weather, but we all need to do our parts as well by driving responsibly. In a release, MDOT asked those who must get on the roadways should wear their seatbelts, stay alert and looking for any road hazards, and drive slowly.
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