Weird weather woes

By Errol Castens/Daily Journal Oxford Bureau

TUPELO – Thursday’s tied the record for the warmest minimum temperature – 56 degrees – on any Jan. 10 in Tupelo history.
Saturday’s low – a tropical 66 degrees – beat the record for the highest minimum temperature for Jan. 12. That afternoon, the 76-degree high broke the record for that date.
Sunday, parts of the region saw heavy rainfall that triggered flooding.
Monday’s charm was freezing rain – a phenomenon that strikes dread into the hearts of Southerners – and it threatens to be a part of today as well.
Welcome to winter in Northeast Mississippi.
Freezing rain began Monday afternoon as high-altitude warm, moist air passed over low-altitude cold air.
“It’s warm enough aloft not to promote snow, but the cold air makes it freeze at ground level,” said Danny Gant, a forecaster in the National Weather Service’s Memphis office.
Shortly after noon, the Mississippi Department of Transportation began issuing emergency alerts that warned of ice on roads and bridges. Trooper Ray Hall of the Mississippi Highway Patrol’s New Albany office said late Monday afternoon that only minor problems had been reported on highways in Troop F’s area, which covers most of Northeast Mississippi.
“Earlier in the day, we had a couple of cars off the road in Alcorn County, but the rain took care of the ice,” he said. “As of 5 o’clock, we’ve had no major travel problems.”
Troopers Joseph Miller of Batesville and Criss Turnipseed of Starkville reported no ice-related problems as of late Monday afternoon in the areas served by Troops E and G, respectively, which also include parts of Northeast Mississippi.
Many school districts around the region let out classes early because of the weather.
MDOT District Engineer Bill Jamieson said his agency would be treating bridges, overpasses and any other trouble spots if ice accumulation resumed overnight or this morning.
“Trucks are ready to go out if needed with salt and stone if needed,” he said.
Freezing rain may resume today if the cold front that pushed across the region Monday reverses itself today as expected.
“Most times the fronts keep pushing and move off to the southeast or the northeast, depending on the kind of system,” Gant said. “This time, the front wasn’t progressive enough to move on out.”
errol.castens@journalinc.com