While it appears that the worst threat of this week’s winter storm is behind the city, Mayor Mitch Landrieu urged residents to continue to stay off the roads because of ongoing concerns about icy patches on streets and bridges.
“This is the word of the day: Ice. It’s dangerous.” Landrieu said. “Today our residents must remain vigilant. We have risks that still remain. Icy roadways are in fact life threatening.”
New Orleans is no longer under a winter storm warning, but the National Weather Service has issued a hard freeze warning for the city through Thursday morning.
Temperatures are expected to rise above freezing only for a short period on Wednesday afternoon.
The icy weather coupled with cloudy skies could thwart efforts to clear roads of ice, said Scott Boyle of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. The moisture and low temperatures could not only prevent ice from melting but could cause it to form again in areas that have been cleared, Boyle said.
Officials will decide by 3 p.m. if City Hall will open on Thursday, Landrieu said. The Recovery School District and Orleans Parish School Board will make determinations around the same time, the leaders of both districts said.
“We are going to regroup and make sure that we don’t make that decision until we have all the information,” Landrieu said.
Officials had warned, yesterday, that the worst of the weather, mostly freezing rain and sleet, would come overnight. Traffic accidents were the primary concern. The New Orleans Police Department responded to 59 accidents overnight, 24 of which were weather related, said Landrieu, adding that two could have been fatal.
One car ended up in Bayou St. John early this morning after the driver swerved to avoid hitting a pedestrian. Police are also investigating a truck in the Morrison Canal, Landrieu said.
The city’s 311 information hotline remains open 24 hours. The hotline had received 445 calls since midday Tuesday, Landrieu said. Most of the calls were to report road closures, shelter updates and health related issues.