MDOT winter weather preparations underway

Mississippians know all too well how fast weather conditions can change throughout the state. With winter officially here, it is important to stay prepared for any weather event that Mother Nature dishes out.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) is prepared for any winter weather and extreme cold conditions.

On December 8, 2017, parts of central and south Mississippi received up to six inches of snow. Jackson saw the highest snowfall in the capital city since 1982.

“The weather that occurred in December is proof to why it is always important to stay prepared for any type of weather,” said Melinda McGrath, P.E., MDOT executive director. “MDOT crews and personnel are committed to keeping Mississippi’s highways safe during the winter season.”

MDOT uses numerous resources to protect the traveling public if severe winter weather strikes. During a typical winter, approximately 1,300 MDOT workers log nearly 53,300 collective hours for snow and ice removal. To get this job done, workers use an average of 3,500 tons of salt, 2,200 tons of sand and 4,650 tons of slag, in addition to a combined 30,000 gallons of salt brine and calcium chloride.

“In north Mississippi, district maintenance crews have trucks and equipment prepared to aid roads affected in the event of a winter storm,” said James Williams, P.E., MDOT Chief Engineer. “Crews are fully prepared with all materials to keep Mississippians safe this winter no matter what the circumstance.”

Different materials are used for specific winter weather events. For instance, salt brine and calcium chloride are sprayed on the road surface to prevent ice formation on travel lanes.

However, if the roads are already wet, these liquid de-icing materials will not work.

“In Mississippi, winter storms are typically associated with rain,” Williams said. “We have to know what type of weather event we are dealing with in order to keep motorists safe. If the roadways are wet, crews will spread granular salt, sand or slag over the roads to help vehicles maintain traction.”

MDOT also encourages the traveling public to stay prepared for the winter season. Staying prepared not only gives peace of mind, but also ensures drivers can keep themselves and their passengers safe.

Before loading up to travel during the winter months, make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape.

  • 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:

  • Windshield scraper
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Jumper cables
  • Bottled water and snacks
  • Extra blankets

For more information on how to prepare for winter weather, visit GoMDOT.com/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 the traveling public. MDOT’s TMC is the nerve center of Mississippi’s highway management system. During winter weather storms, as well as other weather-related emergencies, TMC staff is on increased alert for potential travel hazards.

At the click of a button, important traveler information about Mississippi’s highways is sent to approximately 500,000 people across the state. The TMC releases travel information in many ways:

  • Traffic alerts are sent via email or text to people who sign up on MDOTTraffic.com
  • Information is released through our smartphone app
  • Travel information and alerts can also be accessed by calling Mississippi 511
  • Dynamic Message Signs
  • Highway Advisory Radios

Using these avenues of communication, MDOT is able to notify the public of concerns that may affect their commute to work or school. MDOT’s free travel resources, MDOTtraffic.com, the MDOT Traffic mobile app and Mississippi 511, as well as MDOT’s social media channels like Facebook and Twitter, provide an opportunity for Mississippians to know before they go this winter.

“This winter, remember the importance of being prepared for changing weather conditions,” said McGrath. “Everyone needs to know the dangers that winter weather can bring, and the importance of knowing how to protect you from these instances. We encourage everyone to follow these safety tips while traveling during the winter season.”

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