February 3, 2011 7:58:00 AM
Golden Triangle rescue workers and police were responding to multiple accidents along Highway 82 and other areas as bridges and roads began to freeze Thursday evening.
Several accidents along Highway 82, including at the Highway 45 Alternate exit and near the Tenn-Tom Waterway bridge in Lowndes County, kept first responders busy and clogged traffic for miles as of 4 p.m. Reports on the number of accidents throughout Columbus and Starkville, and the number of injuries, weren''t immediately available.
Area schools closed early today, and East Mississippi Community College canceled night classes tonight. EMCC and Mississippi State University officials said classes would resume as scheduled Friday unless conditions significantly worsened.
Much of Mississippi, including the Golden Triangle, is under a winter storm watches and warnings through Friday with forecasters expecting up to an inch of snow in northern counties overnight and freezing rain and sleet to the south.
Golden Triangle counties, including Lowndes, Clay and Oktibbeha, are under a winter storm watch unti 9a.m. Friday. A mixture of snow, sleet and freezing rain was likely to develop Thursday night and develop into snow, sleet and freezing rain into Friday morning, the National Weather Service said.
Power issues from ice accumulating in trees, and treacherous driving conditions from ice on roadways are possible, the weather service said, until temperatures rise above freezing Friday morning.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation was warning motorists to watch for icy conditions on roadways and bridges.
The National Weather Service said the freezing rain and light snow could be expected to continue into Monday with overnight temperatures before freezing in central and northern Mississippi. Sunny and slightly warmer weather was expected to return statewide Tuesday.
Weather Service meteorologist Eric Carpenter says the cold air that spurred the massive snowstorms in the Midwest is moving across the area and contributing to the expected sleet and snow.