Second snowfall of season surprises Hattiesburg

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The southern part of the United States experienced the second snowfall in the winter season last week, falling down on the night of Tuesday, Jan. 16 and the following morning, causing roads to ice over and operations to be put to a halt.

The University of Southern Mississippi and local public and private schools shut down services due to the severe cold temperatures. USM sent out phone calls, text messages and emails to all students and faculty of Southern Miss, alerting them that classes on Jan. 16 would close operations at noon with the Gulf Coast location closing operations at 2 p.m the same day. Later that day, the university’s Eagle Alert sent out messages saying that classes for the next day had been cancelled due to inclement weather. Classes were resumed on Jan. 18 at 11 a.m.

Southern Miss’ messages offered advice from the Department of Transportation, including ways to drive on icy roads.

“Slow down. Should winter weather conditions become present, ‘black ice’ can form. Allow more space between your vehicle and the one in front of you,” the Department of Transportation recommended. “Brake early and gently to avoid skidding, and never slam on the brakes. Avoid distractions, such as talking or texting on a cell phone. Stay alert.”

Hattiesburg officials worked to salt and sand the roads in attempt to prevent accidents on the ice. However, the city is not as equipped as some Northern states would be for these conditions.

“It’s a challenge for us to get ready for it, and I’m sure it’s a challenge for some other cities around us as well,” said interim public works general manager Colton Hill to the Hattiesburg American. “We are going to deploy industry standards for providing safe routes for travelers.”

Local Hattiesburg businesses and restaurants closed either early or entirely. Some medical clinics also closed early. Forrest General Hospital remained open for any impending emergencies.

The low of five degrees Fahrenheit is a record low for the city. The low for the day was three degrees Fahrenheit. ? Snow levels were only about two inches compared to the steady snowfall of over 5 inches Hattiesburg had on Dec. 8, 2017.

“[It feels] like when you only order one burger at McDonalds, but they give you two on accident. But the second burger is really bad and makes all the roads ice over,” USM junior Psychology major Austin Stringer said.