Mississippians enjoyed clear, warm days this weekend, a sharp departure from the recent arctic blasts that have gripped the state. However, forecasters say don’t get used to the warmth — more cold is coming.
The National Weather Service warned people from northwest Louisiana to the Mississippi Coast to gear up for another blast of cold.
Temperatures in the 50s and 60s were expected to plunge to freezing or below Sunday night in north Mississippi and Monday night in north Louisiana.
“Temperatures will be the big story” early this week in north Mississippi, said Zach Maye, a meteorologist in the weather service’s office in Memphis, Tenn. “It looks like lows in the morning will be from 30 to the mid 30s” and won’t get much warmer Monday, he said.
“Monday night’s going to be really cold,” he continued. “In northeast Mississippi look for temperatures around 10 degrees … and wind chill values in single digits — maybe even negative single digits — for Tuesday morning.”
Tuesday night, freezing air is expected to cover both states, with snow or freezing rain possible in central and southern areas.
“I don’t think we’re going to approach a record low” in north Louisiana, said weather service Davyon Hill of Shreveport. Temperatures of 17 or 18 are likely, but the area’s record lows are in the lower teens, he said.
He said that by most of the night, all of Louisiana north of New Orleans is likely to be below freezing, with New Orleans and points south in the mid 30s. “By Tuesday, everyone should be well below freezing,” he said.
Snow or rain is possible from Interstate 20 south, especially central and South Louisiana. The Alexandria, Lake Charles and Baton Rouge areas may bear the brunt, Hill said.
Above I-20, he said, the air isn’t moist enough for precipitation.
In southeast Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the worst weather is expected Tuesday afternoon and night. The greater New Orleans area and Mississippi Gulf Coast could see ice-glazed roads — though it’s too early to be sure, a weather service advisory said.
Icy roads contributed to at least three traffic deaths Saturday in Mississippi and two in Louisiana.
In a related item, major roads re-opened Saturday in southern Mississippi after a night of icy weather that saw close to 40 multicar accidents and three traffic deaths.
Pearl River County Coroner Derek Turnage said 50-year-old Freddy Berrage, 33-year-old Danielle Moye and Moye’s son, eight-year-old Elijah Moye, were killed in the Friday night wreck.
Berrage was driving on an icy bridge spanning Boley Creek when he lost control of the car. Two other vehicles were involved in the accident.
Mississippi Highway Patrol Cpl. Jason Gazzo said Saturday all major roads were open. Gazzo said his agency had investigated close to 40 overnight multicar accidents. Those included a pileup involving more than two dozen vehicles at the Louisiana-Mississippi line and more than a dozen on U.S. Highway 49 north of Gulfport.
Many drivers didn’t heed warnings to stay off the highways, Gazzo said. And many in south Mississippi are unaccustomed to driving in icy conditions, he added.
“Every bridge and overpass in south Mississippi was iced over,” Gazzo said.