JACKSON—Gov. Phil Bryant has issued a state of emergency ahead of the winter storm that is forecast to affect portions of north Mississippi late this afternoon and central parts of the state overnight into Thursday. A state of emergency is an administrative tool that authorizes the use of additional state resources to aid in storm response efforts.
The National Weather Service says up to a quarter inch of ice, one to three inches of sleet and one to three inches of snow along with 40-50 mph winds are possible in northern counties.
Power outages and hazardous travel are probable. Ice accumulations could reach up to one quarter inch with 30-40 mph winds in the Mississippi Delta counties and north-central counties. There will also be close to a 50 degree temperature drop from highs in the upper 70s today to lows in the 20s tomorrow morning.
“I have declared a state of emergency so the state can be in position to respond as quickly as possible should weather conditions become dangerous,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “People should not be complacent given the very warm temperatures we are seeing today. The weather will deteriorate rapidly tonight, and everyone needs to have a plan. Residents should not overreact but should take time now to make proper preparations for potential icy conditions.”
MEMA activated the State Emergency Operations Center at 3 p.m. today with key state agencies responding to any requests for assistance from local governments. MEMA has been in contact with all county emergency managers and has urged them to plan to open warming shelters should the need arise in their area.
The public is encouraged to follow updates from MEMA on Twitter, Facebook and at www.msema.org. MEMA’s free mobile phone app is also available for download on Android and iPhone devices.
Additional State Actions
The Mississippi Department of Transportation has placed crews on standby to monitor roadways and bridges in their respective areas and is ready to apply sand, slag or salt as the need arises. All District maintenance management will constantly be monitoring the timing of this winter weather event and make adjustments in the field as needed.
The Mississippi Department of Public Safety has implemented 12-hour shifts for the Mississippi Highway Patrol and is prepared to send additional personnel to northern counties.
The Mississippi Department of Education is working closely with all school districts and is ready to assist with any decisions on school closures.
The Mississippi Department of Human Services is working closely with county emergency managers, the Red Cross and Salvation Army for possible sheltering needs.
The Mississippi Department of Health is in close contact with medical facilities and staff and is ready to support any impacts.
MEMA, along with other state agencies, will provide preparedness information and situational updates through the state joint information center.
- Residents should be prepared for power outages.
- All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.
- Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
- Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least three feet from flammable objects.
- Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms. If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make sure your family and neighbors know the risks, and find ways to communicate with them during the cold temperatures.
- Keep contact with elderly and at-risk neighbors and relatives. Make sure they have a safe, warm place to stay while the conditions remain cold and hazardous.
- Ensure community members have a fully-stocked emergency supply kit with items like food, water, medications, flashlights and extra batteries.
- Identify residents who are: shut-ins, elderly, families with small children, medical-care dependent, non-English speaking, low-income and have no transportation.
- Do not travel unless absolutely necessary. Driving conditions will be hazardous. It is difficult to control a vehicle on icy roads.
- If traveling, let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
- Ensure battery and ignition systems are in top condition and battery terminals are clean.
- Ensure heaters and defrosters are working properly.
- Ensure lights and flashing hazard lights are working properly.
- Maintain at least a half tank of gas.
- Bring pets/companion animals inside during freezing weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
- Warm vehicle engines attract outdoor animals and pets. To avoid injury to hidden animals, hit on your vehicle’s hood before starting your engine.