Weather

Snow mix still a brief possibility on the Coast, but hard freeze is likely

Here’s how MDOT keeps ice and snow off the roads

Melinda McGrath, P.E., executive director, Mississippi Department of Transportation, answers questions about the process for pre-treating and maintaining roadways during a winter weather event.
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Melinda McGrath, P.E., executive director, Mississippi Department of Transportation, answers questions about the process for pre-treating and maintaining roadways during a winter weather event.

Don’t get your hopes up for a full-blown snowpocalypse like the Coast experienced in January 2014.

Weather forecasters say the three coastal counties may have some snow mixed in with rain on Tuesday, but the biggest challenge will be frigid wind chills.

“As a strong cold front on Monday comes through the Mississippi Coast comes through mid-Tuesday morning, there may be a few snow flurries mixed in with the rainfall,” said meteorologist Mike Efferson of the National Weather Service in Slidell.

Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties may each have some frozen mixture after 9 a.m., Efferson said.

“With temperatures in the 40s, precipitation will dry up pretty quickly,” he said.

The northern counties of Pearl River, Stone and George are more likely to see snow flurries. Rain and snow is possible before 9 a.m., then a slight chance of snow until noon.

The greatest chance of accumulation is in the southwest counties of Wilkinson and Walthall, the weather service said. There isn’t expected to be any accumulation on the ground in the lower six counties, and no travel impacts are expected there.

Central Mississippi and the cities of Vickburg, Jackson and Columbus could see 1 to 3 inches of snow, the weather service said.

But the Coast can expect a frigid wind chill dipping into the 20s from daybreak Tuesday through at least lunchtime, and again Tuesday night, Efferson said.

A hard freeze is expected Tuesday night with actual temperatures in the 20s for most of the area through Wednesday morning. The weather service said freeze watches and warnings are likely to be issued Tuesday afternoon.

Closures

The following Coast school districts have canceled class Tuesday:

  • George County
  • Pearl River Community College
  • Greene County
  • Laurel
  • Jones County
  • Southern Miss in Hattiesburg (Long Beach campus will remain open)
  • Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (day classes only, night classes resume as normal)

Driving conditions

The Mississippi Department of Transportation is advising motorists to slow down on wet roads, whether it’s snowy or not.

MDOT will be pre-treating roads and bridges north of the Coast with a sodium brine, which lowers the freezing point.

If ice does form on coastal highways, it would be more likely to appear on bridges.

Black ice is not expected in the coastal area, the weather service said.

Forecast

Forecast for Harrison County as of Monday afternoon:

  • Tuesday: Rain, possibly mixing with snow after 9 a.m., then gradually ending. High near 43. North wind 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

  • Tuesday Night: Increasing clouds, with a low around 25. North wind around 5 mph.Wednesday: Partly sunny, with a high near 50. North wind 5 to 10 mph.

  • Wednesday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 32. Calm wind becoming northeast around 5 mph after midnight.

  • Thursday: Partly sunny, with a high near 54. East wind 5 to 10 mph.

— National Weather Service

Cold weather shelters

  • Bay St. Louis: Spanish Trail Baptist Church, 5079 U.S. 90, open Tuesday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. The church is west of the Waveland Walmart. If you need a ride, call Hancock County dispatch at 228-255-9191.

  • D’Iberville: Harrison County Multi-Purpose Building, 10395 Auto Mall Prkwy, opens 5 p.m. Tuesday. Bus pickup is at Seashore Mission starting at 4 p.m. Contact Seashore Mission for more details.

  • Gulfport: Salvation Army Building, 2019 22nd St., Gulfport: Opens 4 p.m. Tuesday. Contact Salvation Army for additional details.

To add to the closings or shelter lists, email the Sun Herald at online@sunherald.com

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Robin Fitzgerald covers real-time news, such as crime, public safety and trending stories. In nearly 40 years as a journalist, her highest honors include investigative awards for covering the aftermath of the fatal beating of a Harrison County jail inmate in 2006 and related civil rights violations. She is a Troy University graduate.
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