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Rare winter storm drops snow in Mississippi

By Staff
LET IT SNOW Tina Jasper clears snow that fell on playground equipment at Small World day care in Quitman this morning. While it wasn't expected to stick for very long, parts of East Central Mississippi and West Central Alabama woke today to a snow-covered winter wonderland. Photo by Steve Swogetinsky / The Meridian Star
From staff and wire reports
Jan. 2, 2002
A rare South Mississippi snow storm left about 3 inches in Hattiesburg, about 1 inch in Laurel and a dusting in other cities that included Quitman.
From Meridian north, nothing fell not even rain in a storm that caused dozens of accidents and left two people dead on state highways.
The snow, in some cases mixed with sleet and freezing rain, was spawned from an upper level system in the lower Mississippi valley region and a surface low system over the western Gulf of Mexico.
Forecasters said the low pressure system would move east toward Florida through tonight.
The state Highway Patrol reported that parts of Interstate 59, U.S. 49 and U.S. 98 in were covered in snow and ice. State workers were pouring sand on bridges in Hattiesburg and Laurel.
Heather Sullivan, a dispatcher with the Mississippi Highway Patrol's Hattiesburg office, said one of the two highway deaths occurred on I-59 in Lamar County. The second was on Mississippi 537 in Jones County.
Both occurred this morning in the snow but that's about all the information we have at this point,'' Sullivan said, adding that the names of the victims were being withheld.
In Brookhaven, Highway Patrol dispatcher James Lambert said there had been some snow accumulation in the Magnolia and Osyka areas near the Mississippi-Louisiana line.
We've got some icing on bridges but the roads are open,'' Lambert said. I got a call about an accident on U.S. 98 at the Bogue Chitto Water Park so it's slippery out there.
The good news is it looks like we've got about all the snow we're going to get,'' he said. At least I hope that anyway.''
Sullivan said her office had received reports of some 35 accidents in the Hattiesburg area between 4 a.m. until 7:30 a.m. today.
She said the southbound lane of busy U.S. 49, which connects central Mississippi to Hattiesburg and the Gulf Coast, had been closed for a time just south of Mississippi 42 in northern Lamar County.
Snow began in the Hattiesburg area Tuesday night and by 10 p.m. about an inch of snow had accumulated.
The weather service continued a hard freeze warning for tonight in South Mississippi. Highs today were to be in the 30s around the state with lows dropping into the teens and 20s in most areas.
Most sunny skies were expected in the state Thursday.