Schools, state offices closed; hard freeze expected
“We have all equipment on standby whether it’s for sand, de-icing or salt. If deemed unsafe, roads will be closed, but the goal is to keep them open.” Rodney Mallett, communications director with Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development
Threats of rain, snow and sleet Thursday night and Friday morning prompted a majority of schools in the Lafayette area to close Friday, including a late opening for University of Louisiana at Lafayette at 12:30 p.m.
As of Thursday evening, the National Weather Service was calling for a 40 percent chance of rain and sleet turning into snow with temperatures dipping to 26 degrees and a wind chill as low as 17 degrees overnight. There was little to no snow accumulation expected in Lafayette itself, but the chances of snow accumulation increased farther north and west.
The chance of rain, snow and sleet continued until 1 p.m. Friday, but was expected to turn to rain later in the afternoon.
The National Weather Service Lake Charles office was forecasting snow in Avoyelles, Evangeline and St. Landry parishes while areas such as Lafayette, St. Martin Parish and St. Mary Parish would get more sleet and freezing rain.
Freezing rain accumulations in the Lafayette and surrounding areas could amount to 0.10 inch, which could mean ice formation on elevated roads and bridges as well as possible sporadic power outages.
“The whole state could see some snow,” said Barry Keim, state climatologist, although how much and where snow would fall is dependent on a number of variables that makes forecasting this type of event difficult.
The National Weather Service has consistently said this is a difficult weather system to forecast and that any chance of snow or sleet is iffy, but it certainly will be cold.
A hard freeze warning is in effect from midnight Thursday until 10 a.m. Friday.
State Police planned to monitor road conditions throughout the night looking for any areas of concern having to do with the cold weather.
“It’s certainly something we’re monitoring,” said Capt. Doug Cain, public affairs commander with State Police on Thursday. “Ice on bridges is certainly a concern for us and black ice is a concern.”
Cain said State Police is encouraging people to stay off the roads in bad conditions, but if they have to be on the road to make sure their car is prepared.
“The last place you want to be stranded is on the side of the road in sub-freezing temperatures,” Cain said.
People can register to receive road alerts through the nixle notification system accessed through the State Police website to get text alerts for the entire state or just specific areas of the state, he said.
In addition, road closures are posted on the State Police website at www.lsp.org.
If any drivers see road problems, they are asked to call *LSP (*577)
Rodney Mallett, communications director with Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, said emergency operations center were opened Thursday and the department planned to have staff monitor traffic cameras through the night.
“We have all equipment on standby whether it’s for sand, de-icing or salt,” Mallett said. “If deemed unsafe, roads will be closed, but the goal is to keep them open.”
People can get road information by calling 511 for the Traveler Information System or at www.511la.org.
Although temperatures are expected to warm up Sunday and Monday, another cold front will be heading into the area Tuesday with temperatures back in the 20s.