By BRIAN HAWKINS
Snow, sleet and freezing rain fell on Starkville Oktibbeha County over the course of a few hours Sunday as winter storm system began moving through much of Mississippi.
Snow fell for less than an hour beginning about 2 p.m., then quickly changed to sleet, then freezing rain.
With the bulk of the winter weather coming in the overnight hours Sunday and early morning hours today, numerous churches canceled evening activities and officials at Mississippi State University, the Starkville School District, the Oktibbeha County School District and Starkville Academy and other area schools quickly acted to cancel classes and activities for today.
County and state officials quickly reported icy conditions on multiple roadways, bridges and overpasses throughout the county, and it is believed icy road conditions contributed to two early evening vehicle crashes just after sunset Sunday.
Shortly before 5 p.m., a pickup pulling a trailer lost control on U.S. 82 just west of the Highway 182 interchange at Clayton Village and veered off the roadway. East Oktibbeha County volunteer firefighters responded to the accident, but there were no injuries, said County Fire Services Coordinator Kirk Rosenhan.
The second crash occurred almost simultaneously with the first accident, Rosenhan said.
Adaton-Self Creek volunteer firefighters were called to U.S. 82 east about a mile and a half west of the Starkville city limits after a car carrying two women lost control after crossing an icy bridge, veered down an embankment and struck a concrete culvert wall.
One of the women was able to free herself from the car, while volunteer firefighters had to free the other women through the car’s shattered windshield. Both were taken to OCH Regional Medical Center by ambulance for treatment of minor to moderate injuries, Rosenhan said.
The biggest threat for the Starkville area at press time Sunday night, however, was the frozen precipitation still to come after a brief lull just before sunset, said Emergency Management Director Jim Britt, who had been in continual contact with National Weather Service meteorologists in Jackson throughout the day Sunday.
A snow and sleet mixture had begun to fall at the Starkville Daily News’ press time Sunday night.
“The Weather Service said the worst for us would be coming overnight and into Monday morning. There’s a big area of precipitation that’s going to impact us through the morning, Britt said Sunday night.
“Everyone just needs to hunker down and stay warm. If the winds keep coming and we get ice during the night, we’re going to have even more hazardous road conditions and probably some power lines down.”
NWS forecasts for Sunday night and this morning were calling for a mixture of snow and sleet before daybreak day with accumulations of up to 10 inches possible. Today’s forecast was calling for a mixture of sleet and freezing rain through mid-morning.
Temperatures were forecast in the low 30s today and tonight.