For a while this week, as Southwest Mississippi was paralyzed by an ice storm that would not melt, I wondered if the hardships were equal to those of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Many roads were iced over and undrivable. A lot of people went without electricity for two or three days in the dead of winter. In McComb and probably other places too, water system breaks reduced the flow to a trickle, if that.
On Friday, when the temperature FINALLY rose into the 40s, many drivers could navigate safely. The tenacious utility crews got most electricity restored. McComb had fixed its two most serious water line ruptures and a normal water supply was within sight.
So, was this equal to Katrina? Despite all of this week’s problems, I vote no.
After all, nobody had electricity after the storm plowed through in 2005. This time, some people never lost power. Back then, it took weeks before everyone got their power back.
The storm blew over hundreds of trees that blocked roads for days. This time, it was a matter of waiting for the temperature to rise.
Still, let’s not downplay the trouble this week produced. It was a tough time.
One of the oddest things was the weather itself, which at least twice seemed to ignore the laws of physics.
At 2 a.m. Monday I heard something unusual hitting the roof at home. It was different than the sound of raindrops.
It was an ice storm — little clear crystals of ice. Since it was 27 degrees out, I don’t understand why it wasn’t snow, which is a lot less dangerous for drivers. Somebody told me it had to do with a mass of warm air and a mass of cold air, but when it’s below 32 degrees, it is supposed to snow.
Then on Wednesday, it was 32 degrees and raining. Not sleet, but a good strong rainstorm. Again, how does this happen?
It turned out that the rain really helped remove the ice from some key roads. This was a big deal for me, since I had delivery trucks going to Laurel and Hammond that night and was worried about safety.
This week made the weather forecasters look bad. Every day except Friday, they missed the high temperature. The worst was Tuesday, when the forecast of a 36-degree high was off by 12 degrees.
Since Sunday, I have been a weather junkie like my wife’s sister, Alice Dickerson. I spent every day looking at my phone’s weather information, hoping for some warming to get rid of the ice. It will be a pleasure not to worry about that for a while.
I also spent a lot of time on the Entergy website, monitoring which areas had lost electricity. A moment of panic set in at about noon Monday, when everyone west of Interstate 55 in McComb went down — except the area close to the Enterprise-Journal. We were trying to finish the Tuesday edition, and if the juice went out, there was no telling how long we’d have to wait.
But neither the newspaper nor my home ever lost electricity. You don’t get much luckier than that.
There was no way to print our Tuesday and Wednesday editions because ice kept the press workers from getting to the office. Besides, it was obvious the post offices would not be delivering.
We put all those pages online and removed the subscription requirement. They’re still there if you want to catch up.
We finally were able to start printing on Wednesday and produced a Thursday paper. This was the worst day of the week for me, by far. The rush to catch up on printing and get those trucks on the road out of town had me wired tightly.
The drivers said that roads were fine east of Tylertown and south of Kentwood. It sounds to me like McComb and Brookhaven took a bigger hit than most places in this area. Amite County, too.
The loss of water in McComb was a nuisance, but nothing more. Fortunately, Mary Ann had filled up a bathtub and several jugs when the pressure went down, so we muddled through. Our son John timed his visit from hard-hit Houston very well and wound up staying for six days.
At lunchtime Thursday, there was enough water at home for my first shower in three days, and it felt great.
Enough winter, right? Everyone was so anxious to get beyond 2020, but 2021 has not been any better. First there was the Jan. 6 mob at the U.S. Capitol, and now we’ve had several days of Minnesota weather in Mississippi.