NWS issues Red Flag Warning
by Elsie Hodnett
Jan 23, 2014 | 1064 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With cold weather and low humidity, the National Weather Service in Birmingham has issued a Red Flag Warning for Central Alabama.

“We were under a Red Flag Warning until 5 p.m. Thursday, and it is in effect 11 a.m.-6 p.m. today,” said Ellen Tanner, director of the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency.

According to the NWS, low relative humidity values Thursday afternoon and today will result in critical fire weather conditions.

Winds expected today include sustained northeasterly winds of up to 8 mph. Relative humidity will drop as low as 15 percent today. The impacts of a dry air mass and windy conditions combined will result in critical fire weather conditions. Outdoor burning is not recommended.

For additional information on the fire conditions, contact the Alabama Forestry Commission at www.forestry.alabama.gov.

Tanner said frigid weather is expected through Saturday. Temperatures were expected to be in the low teens Thursday night, reach a high of 35 degrees today and drop to the low teens tonight.

She said a hard freeze with low wind chills is expected. Impacts expected include: exposed pipes will freeze and there is a threat to outdoor pets, livestock and plants.

Preparations include: cover or insulate exposed pipes, bring in or provide shelter for pets and livestock, cover or bring inside sensitive vegetation and check on the elderly or those without sufficient heat.

The St. Clair County EMA also recommends having multiple resources of receiving weather alerts so that you are not totally dependent on any certain one, as equipment and software can fail.

Tanner said there several weather apps for smart phones including iMap Weather Radio, NOAA Weather Radio App, Weather Alert USA, ABC 33/40, www.abc3340.com, and Fox 6, www.myfoxal.com.

She said text messages and email alerts are available including Fox 6 Text, www.myfoxal.com, and Saf-T-Net, www.saftnet2.baronservices.com/stateofalabama.

“Most are free, and a couple have a small one-time cost to purchase,” she said.

Tanner said other tips include:

O Download a flashlight app on your smart phone in case power goes out.

O Make sure your “settings” allow for notifications.

O For some applications, alerts will “follow” where you travel, so be sure to “allow” for this feature in your settings.

The National Weather Service offers information for Preparing for the Winter Cold:

O Make sure your home is well insulated.

O Keep some type of emergency heating equipment available so you can keep at least one room warm enough to be livable.

O Check your supply of heating fuel, but prevent fire hazards due to coal or oil-burning stoves, fireplaces, heaters or furnaces.

O Stock an emergency supply of food/water.

O Keep water pipes from freezing by wrapping them in insulation. Also let faucets drip a little.

O Dress to fit the season. Wear loose, layered clothing.

O Move livestock to sheltered areas. For pets, bring them indoors or provide some form of heat. Provide them with fresh water as well.

The St. Clair County EMA recommends preparing an emergency supply kit or updating your emergency supply kit. Make household members aware of where supplies are stored. Use an easy-to-carry container such as a backpack, duffel bag or covered trash container.

In the emergency supply kit, consider including items such as:

O A three-day supply of water, including a gallon of water per person per day.

O Non-perishable food and a manual can opener.

O A change of clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes for each family member.

O Blankets or sleeping bags and a first-aid kit with essential prescription medications.

O Battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries.

O Credit cards and cash or travelers checks.

O Place important paperwork in waterproof containers. Include financial information, important phone numbers, wills, insurance policies, immunization records and passports.

O Baby items, extra glasses, contact lenses, extra set of car keys, etc.

The St. Clair County EMA can be reached at 205-884-6800.

Contact Elsie Hodnett at ehodnett@dailyhome.com.