Jan 272014

Mayor Mitch Landrieu and other city officials speak about the dangers from the coming winter storm on Monday afternoon. (via nola.gov)

Mayor Mitch Landrieu and other city officials speak about the dangers from the coming winter storm on Monday afternoon. (via nola.gov)

Roads will likely be too dangerous to drive on Tuesday and Wednesday and ice could cause power outages for three to five days in what officials are saying could be “the worst winter weather” New Orleans has experienced in 10 or even 25 years.

Temperatures will drop below freezing by 9 a.m. 2 p.m. Tuesday, followed by freezing rain, sleet and even snow throughout the day, officials said at a news conference at City Hall on Monday afternoon. Ice will cover the roads and the trees, potentially knocking out power as limbs fall, they said.

While the bad weather will end on Tuesday night, temperatures could remain below freezing until Thursday morning — leaving the roads too dangerous to drive upon for several days, and preventing power from being restored until several days afterward, officials said.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu has already declared a state of emergency, he said Monday. Because of the quarter-inch or more of ice expected, he and other officials repeatedly warned residents to stay off the roads if at all possible. Once a vehicle hits the ice, they said, “you are no longer in control.”

“This will work and everybody will be safe if we’re all smart about how we handle our business,” Landrieu said.

Charles Rice, CEO of Entergy, said that ice storms are difficult to predict but that this one could “one of the most challenging this area seen in some time.” Restoration can be slower than in a hurricane, Rice said, because all the appliances left on after power fails can create a larger demand than the company’s electrical generators can satisfy when power is restored.

“We could actually trip a line and cause more outages,” Rice said.

Power restoration could take three to five days, Rice said. Entergy is already placing work crews in the New Orleans area, Rice said, and they have experience working ice storms assisting other regional utilities.

All police officers’ days off have been canceled to handle what Superintendent Ronal Serpas said will be for them an extended “traffic management” assignment. They will be out in force to deter opportunistic criminals as well, Serpas said, and he urged law-abiding citizens to stay off the roads to let police do their work.

“You will see us everywhere and we will be everywhere,” Serpas said.

New Orleans Fire Department Superintendent Tim McConnell warned residents to use space heaters only in well-ventilated areas and not to leave them unattended, especially when pets or children are present. He also warned against using a stove to heat a home, citing the risk of fatal carbon monoxide poisoning.

Transportation officials are already preparing de-icing procedures to begin Tuesday night, and major highways could be closed if they become too dangerous. Landrieu also warned residents not to leave their cars parked under trees, especially those with large limbs.

Streetcar service will be canceled Tuesday and Wednesday, replaced by buses that will run citywide until the roads are deemed unsafe.

  3 Responses to “Dangerous roads, power outages likely in New Orleans’ “worst winter weather” in decades, mayor says”

  1. Worst winter weather based on what metric? Let’s not use hyperbole.

  2. Pose for the cameras, Mitch. Saw you tagging along far behind the second line the other day with your contingent of body guards. The things you’ll do for a photo op…

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