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Winter storms shut down Wesson

Winter storms

Two winter storms cause a week-ling shutdown in Wesson last month, with icy roads that prevented people from leaving their homes, and fallen trees and limbs that downed power lines, knocking out electricity to most of the town's 2,000 residents and businesses and drastically reducing pressure to make water service virtually useless to customers.

"The town was pretty much shut down from Monday, February 15, until Saturday, February 20, when the sun came out and temperatures rose into the 50s from freezing throughout most of the week," Wesson Public Works Director Brad Turner reported.

The first storm came with heavy sleet and snow mixtures on late Sunday night and early Monday morning, February 14 and 15, and continued into Tuesday morning, leaving a one-inch pretty, but troublesome white blanket on the Wesson landscape, impassible primary and secondary roadways and scattered power outages.

Additional ice, snow and sleet starting Wednesday afternoon, February 17, put additional strain on the already ice-packed roads, and caused more power outages as ice-covered trees, limbs and power lines collapsed under the weight.

By Thursday morning, most Wesson residents and businesses had lost power and the town's water system could not meet consumption demands. Co-Lin and Wesson Attendance Center cancelled classes. The U.S. Post Office suspended services. COVID-19 vaccination sites in the area shut down. King's Daughters Medical Center's clinics were closed. Low water pressure impacted restaurant operations. Jackson Airport closed, along with large stretches of interstates and highways.

Perhaps the most dramatic storm-related incident locally occurred on Mt. Zion Road Wednesday evening after an accident closed Interstate 55, and truckers and motorists who exited onto the roadway could not climb an ice-covered hill into Wesson and towards Highway 51. An 18-wheel tractor trailer jack-knifed, dozens of cars slid off the road into ditches and motorists abandoned vehicles. Co-Lin provided temporary housing to drivers and their passengers on Wednesday night until they could reclaim their vehicles Thursday following work by recovery crews on the road.

Wesson Public Works Department Director Brad Turner said he and his crew, including Joe Glasper and Jonathon Hutt, handled fallen limbs and trees on roads without outside assistance with the town's backhoe and chain saw. "Our biggest challenge were recurring debris problems on Highway 51," he noted.

The water pressure problems revolved around loss of electricity and multiple leaks at homes and businesses, including running water from faucets to prevent pipes from freezing, Turner said. "We had no water line breaks," he reported.

As February ended, Turner and his crew further helped life return to normal, clearing debris from yards of Wesson residents whose homes needed major cleanup following the storms.

Jackson-based National Weather Service meteorologist Logan Poole attributed the storms to "unusually dense arctic air" -- the bottom of three layers, which also included a very cold upper layer and a mass of warmer air at the center. Poole said the Arctic air originated in Northwest Canada and was 30 to 50 degrees colder than normal.

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