December 9, 2017 10:00:48 PM
JACKSON -- Friday will be a December snowfall to remember for much of southern Mississippi.
Many areas between Natchez and Hattiesburg saw 6 inches or more of snow fall before it began to taper off from west to east. Columbia, with 6 inches, recorded the most-ever snow in one day according to the National Weather Service, and Meridian recorded its third-heaviest snowfall. Jackson at 5.1 inches, recorded its sixth-heaviest ever snowfall.
The wet, fluffy snow fell heavily on power lines and tree branches, causing widespread power outages which peaked at around 80,000, with the heaviest outages concentrated around McComb and Hattiesburg. In Summit, daybreak was punctuated by the cracking of tree branches and explosion of transformers, leaving the entire town without power for a time.
Hard-hit rural electric cooperatives called for help from fellow utilities. Brock Williamson, a spokesman for Taylorsville-based Southern Pine Electric Power Association, said officials weren't sure how long it will take to restore power to more than 18,000 of the cooperative's customers whose lights were out Friday afternoon.
Police and state troopers recorded dozens of wrecks, with the Mississippi Department of Transportation reporting icy roads and bridges in nearly 25 counties. Main roads remained mostly clear, although officials warned wet roads would ice over after nightfall.
Fun in the snow
For many kids and their parents, Friday was a snow day, with some schools that had planned classes canceling after daybreak revealed a winter wonderland. At Belhaven University in Jackson, students built snowmen and launched snowball fights in the school's football stadium, blowing off steam during fall exams. Students at three other universities saw their winter commencements delayed.
Kids of all ages were romping in cotton candy snow in Jackson.
"Snowfight! Snowfight!" exclaimed 3-year-old Webb Tuten, as he tottered across a neighbor's snowy yard.
His father, Jason Tuten, said Webb and his visiting niece Lorelei Bonds had been demanding to go outside since 6:30 am. He marveled at how unusual the fluffy snow was for an area more accustomed to sleet.
"My whole life it was always ice storms, rarely snow," Tuten said. "I guess the conditions were perfect."
Business as usual for some
In some areas the snow came so much heavier than expected that there wasn't even time for panic buying. Shelves remained well-stocked with milk and bread at McDade's Market in Jackson.
There was a crowd at the Starbucks in the same shopping center, stocking up on hot drinks. Among them was Chicago resident Nnenna Ezem.
"It hasn't even snowed in Chicago yet, so it's kind of crazy," Ezem said.
Mary Katherine Moore, wasn't sure how to react to the snow.
"I was kind of confused as to what to do," she said. "I took a hose to wash the snow off my car."
Moore and her coworker, Becca Conerly, were taking pictures outside High Country Outfitters, an outdoor gear store where they work.
"We're hoping people need some waterproof rain jackets and insulation, but they may just be outside playing," Conerly said.
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