Officials issued a state of emergency on Monday as experts predict historic ice accumulations will compromise infrastructure and create power outages that could last up to two weeks.
Mississippians are watching a winter storm unfold Monday that some meteorologists say will rival the historic ice storm of 1989, when the state saw record cold and tens of thousands were without power for a week or more.
All but one of Mississippi’s 82 counties are forecast to receive freezing rain, snow or sleet on Monday.
“A winter storm has begun and will bring extreme accumulations of ice, sleet, and snow to much of the area,” a grim National Weather Service forecast read late Sunday night. “These accumulations will lead to a compromised infrastructure with widespread tree devastation, power outages and impassable roads.”
The Mississippi Department of Transportation, as of Monday at 7:30 a.m., had received reports of ice on roadways in 66 of the state’s 82 counties. Scheduled breaks for the President’s Day holiday has certainly helped ease logistical concerns across the state, but many schools and businesses across the state closed their doors in anticipation of the storm.
The state’s officials are warning that the effects of the storm could be unprecedented.
“Make no mistake about it, the winter weather situation we are facing is serious and WILL cause power outages in our region,” said Brandon Presley, one of the state’s three public service commissioners who oversee the state’s public utilities like electricity and natural gas. “… Please be prepared for a minimum of a few days’ power and travel disruption if things worsen.”
As thousands of Mississippians could lose power on Monday, the state will also experience historic low temperatures on Monday night. Low temperatures Monday night will reach between 0 degrees and 18 degrees Fahrenheit, with wind chills below zero for much of the state.