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Ice, snow expected across the region

After a short reprieve, bitter temperatures have returned to Southwest Mississippi with renewed vigor.

According to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, up to an inch of snow is expected to fall in Lincoln County today. Meteorologists believe the area could stay blanketed in ice for several days, pending a thaw.

“If we get that much snow and it stays for a period of time, it could have a bad effect on local bridges and overpasses,” Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Clifford Galey said.

Due to the threat of inclement weather, Copiah County Schools will be closed today, said Marilyn Phillips, principal of Wesson Attendance Center.

Also, all campuses of Copiah-Lincoln Community College will delay start of classes today until 11 a.m., said Natalie Davis, director of public information. Davis said students and staff should monitor Wolf Alert for updated information.

Lincoln County and Brookhaven school officials expected to make a decision about school closings earlier today after a conference call with Galey.

Lawrence County Superintendent Tammy Fairburn posted on Facebook that the school district may exercise an early release for school today.

“If you are working and cannot be at home, please make arrangements for someone to be available to meet your child(ren) when they get off the bus,” she wrote. “The announcement for early release could come as early as 90 minutes prior to students being released from school.”

Students at Copiah County schools were scheduled to be off today. However, parents had scheduled times to pick up report cards and have parent-teacher meetings, Phillips said. These meetings will be rescheduled along with report card pickup. Staff will not be on the campuses, she said.

According to the National Weather Service in Jackson, a winter weather advisory will be in effect from 9 a.m. today until midnight for portions of Portions of southwest Mississippi as well as south central, central, east central and southeast Mississippi.

A winter weather advisory means periods of snow many cause travel difficulties. Very low wind chills expected. Plan on slippery road conditions, including during the evening commute today. Total snow accumulations of up to one inch are possible. Wind chills in the lower teens to single digits are possible.

A winter weather advisory for snow means periods of snow may cause travel difficulties. Be prepared for snow covered roads and limited visibilities, and use caution while driving.

A wind chill advisory will be in effect from 6 p.m. today until 10 a.m. Wednesday. That means that cold air and the wind will combine to create low wind chills. Frost bite and hypothermia can occur if precautions are not taken. Make sure to wear a hat and gloves.

Arctic temperatures and near zero wind chills are expected to last until later in the week, and officials have issued a hard freeze warning that will remain in effect until Thursday for Lincoln County.

“This extended period of freezing temperatures and wicked wind chills have us concerned for people that lack the resources for properly heating their homes,” MEMA Director Lee Smithson said.

To help prevent a house fire, follow safety regulations and test your home’s heating system for glitches.

“Be careful when using space heaters,” Galey said. “Make sure you’re using a proper sized extension cord, and only use heating sources that are made for inside use.”

MEMA urges everyone to secure the “four Ps”:

• People: Make sure everyone you know is safe and warm.

• Pets: Bring animals indoors.

• Pipes: Keep pipes well insulated.

• Plants: Protect any important plants by covering them or bringing them indoors.

Exposed pipes will be extremely susceptible to freezing over the next few days, and Galey recommends taking the proper steps to protect them as quickly as possible.

“If your water lines aren’t well insulated, you probably need to let them drip just a little bit to prevent busted pipes,” he said.

To compensate for the extreme cold and reduce unnecessary traffic, Gov. Phil Bryant delayed the opening of state offices today.

While snow and ice are on the ground, it is wise to travel only when absolutely necessary. For updates on the conditions of local roads, visit the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s traffic center at www.mdottraffic.com  or call 5-1-1.

“We’re right on that fine line,” Galey said. “If road conditions get bad, it’s best to stay home.”