Baton Rouge not weather wimps; arctic blast poses real concern says DPW’s Fred Raiford

    Government offices are shut down, schools are closed through Wednesday and all sorts of meetings and events have been canceled in anticipation of a “wintry mix” that is descending on the area as the temperature—though still only around freezing—is expected to continue dropping.

    If it seems like overkill to you, you’re not alone. Facebook posts are full of snickers and snarky comments about our inability in the Deep South to deal with the possibility of frozen participation.

    But city-parish Director of Transportation and Drainage Fred Raiford says the precautions are necessary and prudent, particularly if Baton Rouge sees rain or sleet, as predicted.

    “It’s already sleeting in St. Francisville and if what the weather people tell us is right, it will probably be a reality here by around 4 p.m.,” he says. “It will be a little unsafe to be on the roads and you don’t want to be carrying kids home on school buses with ice on the roads.”

    Already, interstates in the Shreveport area have been shut down because of icy conditions and Raiford says it’s likely overpasses and perhaps, even, highways will be closed in Baton Rouge Wednesday morning because of ice, hence the decision today to close schools and offices tomorrow.

    Raiford says people have been asking him if it isn’t a bit much all day.

    “I tell them it’s really not overkill,” he says. “Look, we can’t drive here on a good day. If you get a little bit of weather, the world is going to come to an end. That’s why we’re being a little cautious rather than taking a risk.”  

    —Stephanie Riegel  

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