Despite the mild temperatures, winter officially arrived today. Weather conditions can change quickly, and the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) is prepared to respond to any winter weather and extreme cold events.
“MDOT is committed to safety during the winter season and throughout the year,” said Melinda McGrath, P.E., MDOT Executive Director. “MDOT crews and personnel are trained and prepared to deploy a range of strategies to keep Mississippi highways open and passable during winter weather events.”
In the past three years, snow and ice operations cost more than $1 million, and MDOT workers logged over 22,000 hours annually addressing winter conditions. 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.
“In Mississippi, winter storms are typically associated with rain,” McGrath said. “We monitor the weather to see what kind of event we are dealing with, whether it’s liquid or frozen precipitation. The timing of the precipitation will determine what strategy we use to respond.”
If liquid brine is used too soon, the rain could wash the solution away. If the roadways are wet, crews spread granular salt, sand or slag over the roads to help vehicles maintain traction.
“In north Mississippi, district maintenance crews have trucks and equipment prepared to aid affected roads in the event of a winter storm,” McGrath said. “Crews are fully prepared with all the materials needed to keep highways passable this winter.” Throughout the year, MDOT monitors road and traffic conditions constantly through its Traffic Management Center (TMC).
Using traffic cameras, radar and temperature sensors, along with local agency communication, MDOT’s TMC observes the most traveled highways in the state to ensure the safety and mobility of motorists. During winter weather storms, as well as other weather-related emergencies, TMC staff is on increased alert for potential travel hazards.
The TMC shares important traveler information through traffic alerts sent via email or text to people who sign up on MDOTTraffic.com. Users can also download the MDOT Traffic mobile app for real-time updates on their phones.
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. Here are some important things to have just in case:
Flashlight with extra batteries
Bottled water and snacks
“This winter, remember the importance of being prepared for changing weather conditions,” said McGrath. “Everyone needs to know the dangers winter weather can bring and the importance of being safe all season.”
For more information on how to prepare for winter weather, visit GoMDOT.com/winter. For real-time road conditions on Mississippi’s highways and bridges, visit MDOTtraffic.com and follow @MississippiDOT on Facebook and Twitter.