A polar vortex is expected to push Arctic air across the Gulf Coast on Tuesday morning, bringing possible frozen precipitation and icy roads.
The front is bringing the coldest weather of the season so far, into the 20s for the entire area, and widespread rain showers are coming with it, the National Weather Service in New Orleans said Sunday.
As temperatures drop near and below freezing Tuesday morning, forecast models “remain in good agreement” that a mix of light rain and snow is possible across the Coast, the weather service said. A brief period of just snow is possible for areas north of Interstate 10.
“Snow accumulations are possible across the entire area, but the greatest potential for accumulations resulting in hazardous travel will be north of a line from Natchez to Magee to Meridian,” the weather service said.
There’s also a danger of black ice, which is a slick spot of ice on the road not visible to drivers. Bridges and overpasses have the greatest chance of icy spots.
Even with areas that don’t see snow, “the rapid drop in temperatures may cause lingering moisture to freeze on roads, resulting in additional slick spots.”
There’s a 60 percent chance of precipitation starting Monday night, and 70 percent Tuesday. The cold air will move in quickly early Tuesday morning, with temperatures dropping from around 50 at midnight to near or below freezing by about 7 a.m.
Any chance of frozen precipitation would be before 9 a.m., the weather service predicts. Some snow and ice accumulation on the ground is possible north of I-10.
After that the skies should clear, but Tuesday’s high is only expected to reach into the 40s before plunging back down into the 20s overnight.
Gusty winds will make it feel even colder, and wind chill into the teens and low 20s is possible.
“Hard Freeze and Freeze Watches and Warnings will likely eventually be necessary, and wind chill temperatures will also be a concern,” the weather service said.
“Extra precautions should be taken to protect outdoor pets and any exposed plumbing.”
Forecast for Harrison County:
- Monday: Sunny, with a high near 63. Light west wind becoming south 5 to 10 mph in the morning.
- Monday Night: Showers likely after midnight. Increasing clouds, with a low around 36. South wind 5 to 10 mph becoming northwest after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
- Tuesday: Rain showers likely before 9am, then a chance of rain and snow between 9am and noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 44. North wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
- Tuesday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 25. North wind 5 to 10 mph.
- Wednesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 50. East wind around 5 mph.
- Wednesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 32. Northeast wind 5 to 10 mph.
- Thursday: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 53. East wind around 10 mph.