After weeks of unseasonably warm weather in Mississippi, cooler conditions have arrived in the Magnolia State. Weather can change quickly, and the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) is prepared to respond to winter weather and extreme cold events.
“The extreme winter weather in 2021 provided unique challenges for MDOT, and our crews are committed to safety during the winter season and throughout the year,” said Brad White, MDOT Executive Director. “MDOT crews and personnel are trained and prepared to fight the conditions to keep Mississippi highways open and passable as much as possible during winter weather events.”
During 2021’s ice storm, MDOT’s snow and ice operations cost more than $4 million, and MDOT workers logged thousands of hours fighting the frozen conditions. Many crews worked around the clock, with some even sleeping at the equipment facilities because they couldn’t get home.
Different materials are used for specific winter weather events. Salt brine can be sprayed on the dry road surfaces to help prevent ice formation on travel lanes. If the roads are already wet, granular salt can be applied to help prevent the formation of ice by lowering the freezing point of water. Sand and slag can also be spread to help improve traction in slushy conditions.
While MDOT is prepared to monitor road conditions and keep highways passable, motorists also need to be prepared for winter weather. Before loading up to travel during the winter months, make sure your vehicle is properly maintained.
Have your vehicle battery and charging system checked for optimum performance.
Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in your vehicle’s cooling system.
Get your brakes checked to make sure they are functioning properly.
Make sure the heater, defroster and windshield wipers are good to go for the winter.
Creating a winter weather kit to keep in the car in case of a winter weather emergency can be a lifesaver. While MDOT crews will be working to keep roads passable, sometimes conditions can overwhelm available resources and cars can be on the highways for long periods. Here are some important things to have just in case:
- Windshield scraper
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Jumper cables
- Bottled water and snacks
- Extra blankets
“Winter weather can spring up at any moment, and remain for days as we saw last year,” said White. “Always have a plan, monitor road conditions, and follow guidance from your local weather officials to remain safe.”