Snow, freezing rain predicted across south Louisiana
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An approaching winter storm moved governments and school systems in south and central Louisiana to call rare snow days Tuesday.
The National Weather Service predicted 1 to 3 inches of snow Tuesday across most of that area, with up to half an inch of freezing rain in New Orleans and other areas south of Lake Pontchartrain.
State police said freezing rain was falling in the central Louisiana early Tuesday, but highways remained open except the elevated portion of Interstate 49 through Alexandria, where some icing was occurring.
Forecaster John Trares in Lake Charles said the freezing rain mixed with sleet and snow would move into southwest Louisiana by 6 a.m. CST.
Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a statewide emergency, warning motorists to stay off roads once they become slippery. Crews were working to keep major highways open for those who absolutely must travel Tuesday.
The heaviest snowfall was likely to be 1 to 3 inches just north of the Baton Rouge metro area and in the northern reaches of the Florida Parish above Lake Pontchartrain, National Weather Service meteorologist Fred Zeigler said.
The rest of the Florida Parishes are likely to get up to a quarter-inch of ice and an inch of snow, he said, while those south and southwest of the lake are likely to get less than an inch of snow and a quarter-inch to one-half inch of freezing rain through Wednesday.
The service’s Lake Charles office predicted 2 to 3 inches of snow with locally higher amounts north of the Interstate 10 corridor, with 1 to 2 inches and up to a quarter-inch of ice along and south of the corridor.
“While the snowfall will only last until Tuesday night, the impacts of this storm will happen until at least Thursday morning because of freezing temperatures in the forecast.” Jindal said.
Jindal said 45 of Louisiana’s 69 school systems - those from Rapides Parish south - would be closed Tuesday. State offices would be closed in 46 of the state’s 64 parishes, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols said.
Entergy Corp. was staging more than 2,100 workers around south Louisiana on Monday and early Tuesday to be ready to fix any downed or broken power lines, said Dennis Dawsey, vice president of customer service for Entergy’s Louisiana utilities.
“The impact of ice storms is very difficult to predict, but forecasts indicate the approaching weather system could be one of the most challenging the region has seen in years,” he said.