Louisiana’s frigid temps continue; state offices closed for 3rd consecutive day

By: - February 17, 2021 6:31 am

An oak tree weighed down with ice brought down a street light when it toppled during Monday’s winter storm. (Photo by Jarvis DeBerry / Louisiana Illuminator)

Louisiana state offices will be closed for the third consecutive day Wednesday, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne announced Tuesday evening.  Much of Louisiana was still dealing with the effects of a dangerous and deadly winter storm Tuesday, and Dardenne said he was keeping state offices closed “due to hazardous conditions caused by severe winter weather.”

State Offices were shut down Monday in anticipation of the storm, and were already scheduled to be closed Tuesday for Mardi Gras.  Official Mardi Gras parades and celebrations had been previously called off because of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier Tuesday, Gov. John Bel Edwards warned Louisianians not to assume that the danger had ended with the wintry precipitation. “Road conditions are still incredibly dangerous. Please refrain from unnecessary driving and heed instructions from local news and officials,” he wrote.

The Louisiana State Police, using the same social media platform, posted a photo showing cars that had skidded off icy roadways.

As temperatures across the state remained bitterly cold Tuesday, Entergy, a major provider of power to Louisiana, announced that the power demand was so great that it was being forced to initiate rolling power outages “in order to prevent more extensive, prolonged power outages that could severely affect the reliability of the power grid.”

A snowman wearing a purple, green and gold garland appears ready for beads Fat Tuesday, but the ongoing novel coronavirus had led to the cancellation of Mardi Gras activities even before the week’s excessively cold weather. (Photo by Jarvis DeBerry /. Louisiana Illuminator)

The company said it was ordered to do so by its reliability coordinator, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator. “Due to extremely cold temperatures over the last several days, the demand for electricity has reached an all-time high. Additionally, these weather conditions have forced off generation resources across the system.  The implementation of this load shed across the Entergy region will help ensure an adequate reserve margin, which helps ensure Entergy is better positioned to manage through additional extreme weather this week.”

In a Tuesday evening statement, Gov. Edwards said he’d spoken with Entergy officials. “They assured me this was done as a last resort, in order to prevent more extensive, prolonged power outages in Louisiana that could severely affect the reliability of the power grid. Further, these rolling outages will be done only when necessary, and the aim will always be to minimize the impact to any individual customer or household.”  Edwards also said he had also spoken to President Joe Biden “about our ongoing challenges in Louisiana because of this severe weather, including my concerns about Louisianans facing power outages in such cold temperatures. We are not the only state where extreme winter weather has taxed electrical and generation systems, and it is our hope that this issue will be resolved quickly and with minimal impact to our people.”

Shortly before 10 p.m. the utility posted on Twitter, “Mandatory rolling outages that began at 7 p.m. have ended, for now, and we have returned the system to normal operations. All customers affected by this directive were restored by 9 p.m.”

The National Weather Service in Lake Charles Tuesday was predicting “another round of freezing rain” into the day Wednesday and the National Weather Service in New Orleans warned of “the potential for strong to severe thunderstorms during the day on Wednesday… (along) and south of I-10/12 and east of I-55.”

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Jarvis DeBerry
Jarvis DeBerry

Jarvis DeBerry, former editor of the Louisiana Illuminator, spent 22 years at The Times-Picayune (and later NOLA.com) as a crime and courts reporter, an editorial writer, columnist and deputy opinions editor. He was on the team of Times-Picayune journalists awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service after that team’s coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the deadly flood that followed. In addition to the shared Pulitzer, DeBerry has won awards from the Louisiana Bar Association for best trial coverage and awards from the New Orleans Press Club, the Louisiana/ Mississippi Associated Press and the National Association of Black Journalists for his columns. A collection of his Times-Picayune columns, “I Feel to Believe” was published by the University of New Orleans Press in September 2020.

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