Area could see 4 to 7 inches of snow
by ELSIE HODNETT
Jan 07, 2011 | 3464 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The National Weather Service in Birmingham is predicting 4-7 inches of snow in St. Clair and Talladega counties in a winter storm expected to hit Alabama Sunday afternoon.

A winter storm watch is in effect for Central Alabama from Sunday afternoon through noon Monday, said Angel Montanez, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham. Montanez said the watch could be upgraded if needed.

He said although snow flurries may begin Sunday morning, the snow should begin accumulating between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday. Greater accumulation is expected in higher areas, he said.

“It will probably accumulate fast,” he said. “We advise residents to stay off the roads if possible.”

Montanez said the main snowfall should occur Sunday night through Monday morning.

“We are expecting the heavy precipitation overnight,” he said. “But we could see light snowfall as late as Tuesday morning.”

Montanez said the counties may also see freezing rain Monday, depending on how the storm tracks.

“It should start out as snow, but there is a chance that it could turn to freezing rain and ice,” he said.

Montanez said the predicted high temperature Sunday is 33 degrees, with a low of 29 degrees.

“The high temperature Monday is 32 degrees and Tuesday is 35 degrees, with temperatures both nights in the low 20s,” he said. “So there are travel concerns with melting snow turning to ice.”

Montanez said predictions may change as the winter weather event nears.

“We have shelters on standby and will open them if the need arises,” said Christine Arnold, executive director for the St. Clair County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Possible shelters in St. Clair County include First Baptist Church in Pell City, 2309 Second Avenue North, phone 205-338-9444; Moody United Methodist Church, 820 Church Street, phone 205-640-7491; and Springville First United Methodist Church, 6471 U.S. 11, phone 205-467-7866 or 205-467-6296.

Residents are advised to call the closest shelter before heading there to ensure the shelter is open. Residents may also call the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency at 205-884-6800.

Peggy Mann, executive director for the Talladega County Chapter of the American Red Cross, said several shelter locations Talladega County will open if needed.

“If they open, it will be announced through the Talladega County EMA and on the radio,” she said.

Residents may call the Talladega County EMA at 256-761-2125 for information on whether shelters are open and at which locations.

Area school superintendents said they will assess the storm situation Sunday and likely make determinations Sunday afternoon or Monday morning.

“We have Teleparent, which calls every student,” said Bobby Hathcock, superintendent for the Pell City School System. “We will also make announcements over the radio and on TV.”

Jenny Seals, superintendent for the St. Clair County School System, said the school system has a call-out system to alert parents by telephone and e-mail.

“We will also post it on Facebook and on the TV and radio,” she said.

The Talladega City, Talladega County, and Sylacauga City school systems will also use automated systems to contact students, as well as making announcements on TV and radio.

Gayle Jones, public information officer for the Talladega County School System, said superintendent Suzanne Lacey will stay in close contact with the Talladega County EMA and make the decision, possibly Sunday afternoon.

“The superintendents for the school systems in Talladega County will get together with the EMA and probably make the call Sunday afternoon,” said Kelly Lakey, student services coordinator for the Sylacauga City School System. “They usually try to reach the same decision for all three school systems, but that doesn’t always happen.”

Doug Campbell, superintendent for the Talladega City School System, said weather information will be assessed Sunday for school Monday.

“Depending on the storm, we will assess the information Monday night for school Tuesday to make certain we make the right call,” he said.

E-mail Elsie Hodnett at ehodnett@dailyhome.com.