Officials in Oxford are strongly advising residents to stay off the roads as ice and snow accumulations affect driving conditions.
City employees are working to get the roads clear, but they are not fully equipped to deal with this type of weather. The extremely cold temperatures brought by winter storms since Monday and cars on the road have made clearing the roads significantly more difficult.
“Due to the rarity of these types of events in the South, Oxford, like any other southern town, is not equipped to have the streets immediately cleared in the same way you may see in northern areas,” Mayor Robyn Tannehill said in a Facebook post on Monday.
According to the National Weather Service, a winter storm warning is in effect for most of the South until Thursday. The service has warned that travel conditions can be treacherous, and sleet and snow may make travel impossible.
Icy road conditions have been present in 68 Mississippi counties, according to the Mississippi Department of Transportation.
According to Oxford Police Department, at least ten accidents were reported on Tuesday alone.
Chloe Baker, a junior from Olive Branch, experienced firsthand what it was like to drive in icy weather conditions. Baker was returning to Oxford from Olive Branch when she slid off the road on Highway 6. She suddenly pressed on her breaks after cars in front of her slowed their speed, not realizing that she was driving on black ice. The drivers who were ahead of her moved over enough for her to avoid hitting them.
Baker said she had never experienced driving on icy roads and the incident scared her.
“I wasn’t worried while driving at first, but I was still being cautious,” Baker said. “After sliding on the ice and completely losing control, I was definitely nervous for the rest of the drive.”
When driving in snow, MDOT suggests that drivers press on their brakes early and gently to avoid skidding and never slam on the brake. The department also suggests that drivers keep an emergency kit in their cars.
Other tips for driving on icy roads include:
Avoiding cruise control
Allowing more space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you
Making sure your car battery and charging system have the best performance
Making sure the heater, defroster and windshield wipers work properly
Checking the tire pressure weekly during the winter months
The university has encouraged its employees to telecommute, as the campus will remain closed throughout the rest of the week due to travel conditions on roadways. The Oxford-University Transit will also remain closed.
“We will not be able to treat every roadway, and we will not be able to keep areas from re-freezing while temperatures remain this cold,” Tannehill said. “We continue to ask that all who can stay home do so to minimize risk for those that can’t. If you must go out, drive very slowly and expect to have limited traction or control, particularly at intersections and in turns.”