Oxford and Lafayette County residents woke up to a winter wonderland this morning, after a winter storm dumped close to 9 inches in some parts of the community.
Unfortunately, before the powdery white stuff fell, an inch of sleet collected on the roads, making it difficult for city and county road crews to clear the roads of ice this morning.
“It’s terrible in the county,” Lafayette County Emergency Management Coordinator David Shaw said this morning. “That layer of sleet froze up under the snow and it’s as slick as can be. Even driving a four-wheeler, I’m slipping around.”
County road crews are doing what they can to clear at least one lane on many roads so emergency vehicles can at least have access, Shaw said.
Abbeville received the most snow — about 9 and a half inches, he said.
“The northern part of the county got the most snow,” Shaw said.
Oxford Emergency Management Coordinator Jimmy Allgood called travel this morning “extremely hazardous.”
“The street department and public works crews are out putting down gravel and doing some street cleaning,” Allgood said early this morning.
The city had some crews laying down gravel late Sunday afternoon to get ahead of the snow and ice, Allgood said.
Despite the heavy sleet Sunday and 9 inches of snow, there’s been no reports of power outages in either the city or county.
“Everything’s been pretty calm,” Allgood said.
Oxford Police Chief Mike Martin said since the wintry weather started at 3 p.m. Sunday, officers have responded to 22 disturbance calls.
“That’s about how we spent our night,” he said this morning. “Helping people out of the snow.”
Martin said a few wrecks were reported when the sleet and snow first started falling, but only four required filling out a report.
“There we no serious injuries,” he said.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol reported 24 wrecks in the Troop E area, which includes Lafayette County. Troopers responded to 39 motorist assistance calls, mostly on interstates 55 and 69, MHP Troop E spokesman TFC Joseph E. Miller said.
“Road conditions this morning are icy and we are urging people to drive slow and be careful,” Miller said this morning.
Garbage collection in both the city and county has been suspended today until conditions on the roads improve, according to Oxford Solid Waste Superintendent Randy Russell and Lafayette County Solid Waste Manager Bobby Jones.
“I have only two guys who made it into work and trucks are not rolling,” Russell said this morning. “We are going to get caught up, but I don’t have anyone to drive the trucks.”
Russell said his department will try again Tuesday to pick up garbage.
“It’s a day-to-day thing to see what will happen,” he said. “If roads are passable, than we will be out there.”
Jones said his department is also waiting to see how the road conditions improve before sending drivers out to collect garbage.
“Maybe Wednesday — if weather permits — we can get out there and start picking stuff up,” he said.
A forecast of some freezing rain this afternoon and evening is causing concern among city and county officials that roads will only be worse Tuesday.
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for north Mississippi until noon Tuesday. Forecaster said there is a chance of light freezing drizzle and snow flurries on through the rest of the day and patchy snow and drizzle are expected early Tuesday as cold temperatures linger.
“What we got last night isn’t going anywhere anytime soon,” Shaw said.
(Staff Writer Melanie Addington contributed to this report.)