New Orleans area facing ice and rain event; Orleans Parish under emergency declaration
Freezing temperatures and a wintry mix of ice, sleet and freezing rain is expected to impact the New Orleans area throughout the day with the worst of it occurring later this afternoon and overnight.
While most of the area remains above the freezing mark, the cold air mass heading into the area this afternoon and overnight will bring with it icy conditions and frigid temperatures that will only be above freezing for a short time Tuesday during the day. Wind chill estimates across most area parishes range into the teens.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued an emergency declaration on Sunday in advance of the expected winter storms. The City of New Orleans already was under several restrictions due to Mardi Gras with all bars closed and access to and from the French Quarter compromised.
Because of the cold temperatures and icing conditions, local residents are urged not to go outside and to protect pipes and tender vegetation. Water pressure is expected to drop due to a large number of Sewerage and Water Board (S&WB) customers running water to prevent pipes from cracking. Two of the massive turbines that supply electricity to the treatment plant in New Orleans are not working at present and S&WB officials are concerned that water main breaks coupled with already existing low pressure could result in emergency boil water orders being issued.
Authorities are asking travelers to stay off area roads due to potential icing on the roads. Travel to and from Baton Rouge along the elevated portions of I-10 has been closed and is also shut down at the Mississippi state line. The elevated portions of I-55 between Laplace and Pontchatoula have also been shut down.
Crews for several parishes on the North shore have been placing sand along many roads in order to give travelers traction along icy roads.
Causeway authorities have already shut down the two left lanes for travel to and from the North and South shores and reduced the speed limit for travelers to 45 m.p.h.
Entergy and CLECO crews remain vigilant, but power outages are being reported reported that have affected more than 10,000 people. Power Boulevard in Kenner at West Esplanade is shut down due to repairs being made to at least one transformer.