Jan 282014

Precipitation forecasts for South Louisiana for 10 p.m. Tuesday (via weather.gov at 12 p.m. Tuesday)

Precipitation forecasts for South Louisiana for 10 p.m. Tuesday (via weather.gov at 12 p.m. Tuesday)

Temperatures in New Orleans are expected to drop below freezing Tuesday afternoon — bringing ice and possibly even snow — and generally remain there until Thursday, likely causing impassable roads and power outages, city officials said in an update on preparations Tuesday morning.

“Don’t let the conditions right now fool you,” said NOPD Superintendent Ronal Serpas in a news conference late Tuesday morning. “Change is definitely coming. Rain, and ice and standing ice are on the way.”

The temperature in the city of New Orleans will fall below 32 degrees around 2 p.m. Tuesday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said, and the precipitation will follow soon after, including freezing rain, sleet, ice and possibly even snow — just as it already has on the Northshore.

“Winter storms of this nature are very, very unpredictable,” Landrieu said. “It is a very fluid situation that we are going to have to continue to monitor.”

The most immediate danger to residents is icy roads, and officials are urging people to stay at home if at all possible, Landrieu said. If the ice stays on the power lines and tree limbs, power outages are possible, and could last up to five days, officials have said.

Temperatures are expected to warm back up above freezing Wednesday afternoon, but only for a brief moment, Landrieu said. Afterward, they will drop below freezing again, keeping ice on the roads until Thursday, Landrieu said.

“We will have rain. We will have cold, and we will have ice,” Landrieu said.

About 1,000 workers have been staged across the New Orleans area to respond to outages, said Entergy CEO Charles Rice. By noon Tuesday, no power outages had been reported.

Serpas noted that officers are already on patrol, and will activate their blue lights in neighborhoods where power fails.

“The roads are virtually empty, so thank you for your cooperation,” Serpas said.

If conditions deteriorate, roads and bridges may close completely, Landrieu said. All flights leaving New Orleans have been canceled, Landrieu said.

Fire chief Tim McConnell repeated warnings against using space heaters — the department has already responded to a fire Tuesday morning caused by one, he said. Likewise, never use a stove to heat a house or operate generators inside a building, because of the risk of fatal carbon monoxide poisoning, McConnell said.

City Councilwoman Susan Guidry said anyone who sees an animal out in the weather is urged to call the SPCA at 368-5191

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