Parish officials briefed on weather

A state highway specialist told St. Mary Parish government officials there is a chance U.S. 90 will be shut down Tuesday morning due to icy road conditions.
“If we do not procure enough salt to assure we can keep both Highway 90 and (La.) 182 open then we will shut down Highway 90 but will keep the Calumet Cut bridge open so motorist can cross over and reconnect on Highway 182,” Jeff Legnon, a maintenance specialist with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, said.
The decision on shutting down any highway or bridge will be made if precipitation occurs after temperatures fall below freezing and there is not enough salt to cover all the highways, Legnon explained.
That weather scenario is likely to occur around daybreak Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service meteorologist Roger Erickson.
As for the supply of salt, Legnon said the highway department is attempting to procure enough salt to keep both highways open but currently the only supply they have is coming from Avery Island and that source will be closed after 6 a.m. Tuesday.
“We will try by all means to keep both highways open,” Legnon said.
He warned the mayors and police chiefs that they could see increased traffic on the highways in St. Mary Parish once closures start occurring on the interstates.
Legnon spoke about the highway strategy after a 2:30 p.m. conference call from the Weather Service to governmental agencies throughout the state. Parish leaders listened in on the fifth floor of the parish courthouse in Franklin where they were told to prepare for icy roads and possible downed power lines because of ice and 20 mph winds Tuesday.
St, Mary Parish may be experiencing freezing rain and sleet from daybreak to around noon on Tuesday, Erickson said. By late Tuesday afternoon and into Tuesday night the parish may see the freezing rain change to snow with temperatures hugging the freezing mark all day. Precipitation should end by Wednesday morning.
Temperature forecasts for Wednesday depend on how long the area remains under a cloud cover and if the sun ends up coming out. With a constant cloud cover, Wednesday temperatures could stay at or near freezing but if the sun comes out there could be some beginning of a thaw occurring, Erickson said.

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