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Police see increase in traffic accidents due to icy roads, officials undecided on schools opening Thursday

Stay off the roads if possible, said Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Clifford Galey.

“If you don’t have to be out there, don’t,” he said.

Mississippi Highway Patrol Troop M reported 23 traffic accidents on I-55 in Lincoln County Tuesday. That number represents an increase of roughly 20 wrecks from Troop M’s daily average. MHP today is reporting an increase in incoming calls due to weather-related vehicle accidents.

Brookhaven Police Department responded to nine wrecks in town on Tuesday, and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office reported 28 traffic accidents throughout the county on the same day.

Galey said the accumulation of snow is melting, “but it’s still slick out there in a lot of spots.”

He said sections of roads shaded by trees will remain frozen longer and create slick patches.

Driving is less dangerous on roads within Brookhaven, but county roads are still difficult to navigate safely, he said. I-55 is passable, but he recommends drivers who must be out in the weather to stay in the right lane and drive cautiously. He said most slide-offs and crashes occurred because roads were iced over, which is caused by snow that melts from the traffic and then freezes.

He recommended that drivers not panic if their vehicle starts to slide.

“All you can do is hold on. You can’t control it,” he said.

The National Weather Service in Jackson said temperatures today will fail to rise above freezing across almost all of the Lincoln County and surrounding area and those locations that do will not remain above freezing for more than an hour or so. This long duration of very low temperatures will once again put stress on life and property in the region as lows tonight range from 10 to 15 degrees.

A hard freeze warning remains in effect until noon Thursday in most locations.  That means a prolonged period of sub-freezing temperatures is ongoing, and could lead to hypothermia from excess exposure. These conditions will be dangerous to people and pets without adequate shelter and could damage exposed pipes.

School officials will either meet later today or early Thursday to determine if schools will remained closed, he said.