Chances for freezing precipitation and slippery roadways will increase for the rest of today as temperatures and wind chills drop.
Ben McMinn with DeSoto County Emergency Services and Tish Clark, DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department public information officer, gave an update Thursday on what to expect from encroaching winter weather and how people can prepare in case of emergencies.
“We have been in constant contact with our sheriff’s office this morning and dispatch center,” said McMinn. “We have no accidents that are ice related. There’s been several accidents throughout the day that were traffic conditions due to wet roadways. We have no significant impacts reported on or roads related to winter weather at this time,” McMinn said Thursday morning.“
Clark said Thursday morning traffic was mostly “smooth sailing.”
Officials said a main concern is temperatures dropping in the evening and overnight hours.
“Wind chills are significantly lower now,” McMinn said. “Our concern will be any refreezing or just freezing on the roadways, bridges and overpasses.”
The Mississippi Department of Transportation is in charge of maintaining state roads and highways including; I-55 and I-78/22, Highways 51, 61, 305, 304, and 302(Goodman). Municipalities are responsible for treating their own roads and bridges.
McMinn said his office has been in contact with county road crews for several days ahead of the cold weather threat.
“They have equipment that is prepped and ready,” McMinn said. “They have been constantly monitoring the condition of roads throughout the county since early this morning. They are ready to address any needs that may arise.”
McMinn said officials with both DCEM and DCSD anticipate wind chills in the 20s tonight leading to black ice and slippery driving conditions. Workers on patrol will report any hazardous conditions to their respective dispatch.
Clark said she strongly encourages all drivers to make preparations if they have to travel and pack emergency supplies in their vehicle before traveling.
“People need to have a kit in their car with water, a blanket, flashlights, phone chargers, snacks, things like that. Even if they're just running to the store,” Clark said. “If their car stalls or won’t start, they’ll need a survival kit. Also if they don’t have an emergency but need help, our non emergency number, for the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Department is 662-469-8027.”
McMinn added that people should consider having adequate medications or have them refilled if needed in the event they can’t get out of the house.
“Make sure to check your wiper blades, have de-icer, whatever you need for travel,” said McMinn. “Monitor the areas of where you’re traveling from and where you’re going to.”
This past week, many motorists in Virginia were stranded around 16 hours on a highway overnight due to hazardous and impassable road conditions. McMinn cited that example as reason enough to make preparations before winter weather moves in.
“We want people to know that could easily happen here, maybe on a smaller scale, 30 minutes to two to three hours,” McMinn added. “They may never use one of those kits but the one time they need it, they’ll be thankful they have it.”
In anticipation of tomorrow morning’s commute, Clark and McMinn said to check social media for MDOT, DCES, and DCSD, including Facebook pages.
“DeSoto County Emergency Services keeps everybody up to date all the time,” Clark said. “That’s a great place for information. Also, we share things to the sheriff’s department website and social media. People can also call us on the non-emergency line, 662-469-8027.”
Nixle alerts are also utilized by the sheriff’s department to alert residents for weather warnings and advisories or even road construction and maintenance. McMinn encourages people to sign up at www.nixle.com.
“People can also monitor MDOT’s website and they have apps for smartphones,” McMinn said. “We’ll post some links to those on our social media.”
Clark emphasized again emergency kits in vehicles in case of being stranded or stalled on roadways