As ice sets in, South Mississippians urged to stay off the roads

The Mississippi Highway Patrol has responded to more than 40 traffic-related calls Friday as snow and other winter weather fell across South Mississippi.

MHP Cpl. Chase Elkins said said troopers responded to at least 20 reports of wrecks in Hancock, Harrison and Pearl River counties.

Troopers also pulled around 20 other vehicles out from roadway medians that got stuck while driving in the weather.

“This has been going on since 8 a.m.,” Elkins said. “It’s been steady all day. It started about this morning and we have not had a stopping point. There have been at least two troopers working wrecks at the same time.”

Elkins said “slush” is covering roadways from the Coast to Hattiesburg, and people should stay home and enjoy the winter weather in their own front yards.

Bridges were beginning to ice on Interstate 10 in South Mississippi about 3:30 p.m. Friday, according to the Mississippi Department of Transportation. There will be “extreme icing” on bridges THROUGH Saturday morning, MDOT said.

“The public is strongly encouraged to delay all non-essential travel in Gulfport and the surrounding counties,” MDOT said in an alert.

Don’t drive to Hattiesburg to see heavy snow, Elkins said. It could be risky.

“There is no sense in anybody being on these roads trying to find snow,” Elkins said. “I know plenty of people who are wanting to Hattiesburg and Laurel just to play in the snow and it’s just not worth it. The chance of a wreck happening in pretty high.”

Law enforcement in Pearl River County has also responded to dozens of traffic-related calls Friday in the Poplarville area.

A winter weather advisory is in effect until 6 p.m. for South Mississippi.

“If people don’t have to be on the road, we are asking them to get off,” Elkins said. “If you have to be on the road, slow down and keep a distance between the cars. One of those patches of black ice will sneak up on you.”

Drivers should continue to use extreme caution on the roadways through Saturday morning.

You can check weather and road conditions by visiting MDOT’s traffic website or calling 511 in Mississippi. You can also download the free MDOT Traffic app.

Justin Mitchell: 228-604-0705, @JustinMitchell_

Margaret Baker: 228-896-0538, @Margar45

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