If you want to see any frozen water fall from the sky this weekend, prepare to get up early — really early — on Saturday.
There’s only a short window of time when the Mississippi Coast could see some frozen precipitation, but the combination of wet weather and below-freezing temperatures could create dangerous driving conditions throughout the weekend.
As Arctic air moves across the South, it will clash with an area of moisture over the Gulf Coast. The clash will create areas of snow and sleet near the diagonal edge of the front, which runs from south Texas to the Appalachian Mountains.
Rocco Calaci, longtime Gulf Coast meteorologist and a partner in Florida-based weather company MetLoop, said as the front nears the Coast, the area of possible frozen weather stretches from central Alabama to Pascagoula, to just to the north of the Biloxi area near Wiggins and to Baton Rouge.
“By about 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning Saturday, it’ll just speed through the Biloxi-Gulfport area very quickly and be out of your area by 4 o’clock in the morning,” he said.
And while North Mississippi could get a nice half-inch dusting of fluffy white snow Friday, everywhere from Jackson on down is likely to see a wintry mix.
“It’s gonna be mostly ice and sleet,” Calaci said, but he wouldn’t be surprised if there are reports of snowflakes near the Gulf Coast.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for Pearl River County, as well as counties and parishes along the Mississippi-Louisiana line. The wintry mix, even if it is light, could cause hazardous driving conditions, especially on bridges and elevated roads, the advisory says.
There are no advisories yet for Stone, George, Hancock, Harrison or Jackson counties. However, the Harrison County Emergency Management Agency warns that any leftover standing water could freeze Saturday night as temperatures dip into the 20s across most of the area, causing icy patches on roads.
“A hard freeze is expected along and north of Interstate 12 and for much of the Mississippi coastal counties Sunday morning,” the advisory says. “Wind chill values in the teens and 20s are likely for much of the area Friday night into Sunday morning.”
There are winter storm watches across almost the entire Southeast, and Atlanta could see as much as 2 inches of snow.
The Salvation Army Cold Weather Shelter in Gulfport will be open nightly from Friday through Sunday.