By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Freezing temperatures and wet conditions caused problems for motorists in Northeast Mississippi, and the danger on the roads could last through the weekend.
Mississippi Highway Patrolman Ray Hall said that between 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday, troopers had responded to more than 40 accidents before and after bridges iced over. Most of the accidents were in Alcorn, Tippah, Prentiss and Tishomingo counties, according to Hall.
“We’ve definitely seen our share of accidents today,” Hall said Friday afternoon. “The weather has definitely been a big factor in most of those. People are just sliding and losing control of their vehicles. We may be in for a long night.”
Hall said troopers will be working 24-hour shifts to help people in need.
The weather – rain, sleet, snow, low temperatures – was part of a major winter storm that pushed through the Midwest and into the Southeast.
In Northeast Mississippi, the weather forced school closings in several districts, while others dismissed classes early. Several events were canceled or rescheduled, including the Ole Miss-Arkansas basketball game scheduled for today in Oxford. It has been moved to Sunday at 6 p.m.
On the regions roads, Tupelo Police Maj. Jackie Clayton said a couple of accidents were reported in the city Friday, but they weren’t linked to the weather. Despite having some sleet and rainfall early Friday, Tupelo’s streets did not accumulate ice on Friday.
In Prentiss County, the Mississippi Department of Transportation took early precautions to ensure bridges were passable. Ralph Lauderdale, Prentiss County emergency management director, said MDOT salted and sanded bridges early so traffic on the area highways moved well.
In Corinth, which also received snow, Street Commissioner Jim Bynum said that if all the streets froze over, the city would have enough sand to cover everything.
Oxford Electric Department reported that ice-burdened trees dropped limbs that caused a few scattered power outages Friday afternoon. Superintendent Lynn Robbins said five or six damaged lines left about 20 customers temporarily without electricity.
Keith Hayward, manager of engineering operations for North East Mississippi Electric Power Association, said the cooperative had just a few actual outages.
“A total of about 1,000 customers were affected, because limbs fell on some of the main feeders,” he said.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Chris Dukes said that while the weather was typical this time of year, the amount of wintry mix some parts of the area received was unusual.
According to the NWS, there is a 20 percent chance of snow today. And with temperatures still below freezing, the accumulation of ice and snow from Friday night will remain on the roads.
The high for today is 32 degrees with a low of 17 degrees tonight.
Sunday is expected to see a high of 37 degrees with sun. Dukes said that by Monday, ice from the weekend should be melted because the high will reach 48 degrees.
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Errol Castens and Lena Mitchell contributed to this story.