Winter weather rolls through the Mid-South - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Winter weather rolls through the Mid-South

Ice blanketed cars in Jonesboro before dawn Friday. (Photo submitted to My 5) Ice blanketed cars in Jonesboro before dawn Friday. (Photo submitted to My 5)
Viewer submitted photo of an accident on 385 near Memphis Friday morning. Viewer submitted photo of an accident on 385 near Memphis Friday morning.
An accident closed the westbound lanes of I-40 over the Hernando DeSoto Bridge. An accident closed the westbound lanes of I-40 over the Hernando DeSoto Bridge.
Viewer submitted photo from Tipton County. Viewer submitted photo from Tipton County.

By WMC Staff

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Schools and businesses closed across the Mid-South Friday as a blast of winter weather rumbled through the area.

Snow and ice began falling before dawn in parts of Arkansas, while forecasters said some parts of the Southeast could see up to a foot of accumulation.

In Memphis, freezing rain began to fall around dawn, slowing the morning rush hour.  Accidents were reported across the city, including a crash that closed the westbound lane of the Hernando DeSoto bridge, and a serious accident on 385.

Jeff Hooker, manager of the Piggly Wiggly in the Frayser area of Memphis, said customers were waiting to get in and buy groceries when the store opened up at 7 a.m.

"People here in Memphis, if there's just a little flight of bad weather they think they're going to get snowed in for a week," he said.

Hooker said some of his employees are afraid of driving in the snow, but he's not because he's got a big truck.

"I told those who's scared I'll pick them up in the morning and take them home ... maybe make a couple of runs," Hooker said.

An emergency operations center opened in Memphis around 2 a.m., Shelby County Sheriff's Office spokesman Steve Shular said. There were 22 traffic crashes during the morning rush as driving conditions deteriorated.

City and county school systems across Tennessee were closed and, uncommonly, the University of Memphis and the University of Tennessee-Martin canceled Friday classes.

Flights were canceled Friday morning at airports in Oklahoma City and Little Rock, Ark., and Memphis.

More rain, freezing rain and sleet was expected in the southern part of Tennessee while northern sections were expecting mostly snow.

As ice continued to accumulate, nearly 9,200 people across Shelby County were left without power Friday night.

Most of the outages were in East Memphis, Collierville, and Cordova.

Shelby County EMA Director Bob Nations urged everyone to keep safety in mind.

"Pay attention to conditions and don't do something that would be unsafe," he said.

Dwon Gilliom, Memphis Public Works Director, said employees have been on the roads since midnight applying salt and sand to bridges, over-passes, and major streets.

"As the precipitation begins to ice over this evening, accumulation of more snow, we will increase that volume to some degree," Gilliom said.

Southaven Police Chief Tom Long said parents should make sure their children exercise safety in the streets.

"Kids can drag out their four-wheelers or anything they want, get out in the middle of the street and play on them.," Long said.  "If there was anytime at all you wouldn't want your child out there is when they can't control their vehicles."

Horn Lake resident Hoyt Thompson braved the winter weather to get to the grocery store.

"We normally make fun of people that wait until it starts snowing, but here we are with them," Thompson said.

If you have questions or concerns regarding the icy weather conditions you can contact the Memphis-Shelby County EMA at (901) 515-2525.


Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.  The AP Contributed to this story.

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