Officials bracing for round two of storm system
by David Atchison, Emily McClain and Chris Norwood
Feb 11, 2014 | 1583 views |  0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Local officials are bracing for round two of a storm system that dropped ice and snow in North Alabama Tuesday, while leaving Talladega and St. Clair Counties with only rainfall.

Schools, city and county offices closed Tuesday in anticipation of ice and snow, but icy conditions never occurred. That may not be the case for Wednesday as the National Weather Service is predicting 1-3 inches of snow in Talladega and St. Clair Counties.

“We based our decision on the information that was at hand,” Pell City Manager Patrick Draper said of Tuesday’s closings.

All city and county offices were closed Tuesday.

Draper said city offices are expected to open as normal Wednesday.

“There are no indications from anything I’ve heard for anything to be on the ground tonight or in the morning,” Draper said. “We will open at 8 a.m., and play it by ear for any closings.”

He said emergency services, which not only include police and fire, but street and utility, will remain in operation despite any weather conditions.

Draper said if there is freezing precipitation in the morning, city officials could deviate from their plans.

St. Clair County and Pell City school systems will remain closed Wednesday, as more ice and snow is expected to arrive before noon Wednesday.

The timing of the ice and snow storm has changed, said Michael Barber, superintendent of Pell City schools.

“We will not be having school tomorrow, neither will St. Clair County,” Barber said Tuesday afternoon. “We were looking at getting in a partial day.”

However, Barber said the National Weather Service forecast model changed.

He said ice and snow storms could roll into the area before noon Wednesday, not 5 p.m., as officials previously predicted.

Barber said the inclement weather could reach St. Clair County by 9 p.m., Tuesday but it is most likely to arrive after midnight Tuesday.

No decisions were made Tuesday by either school system as to whether schools will remain closed Thursday.

According to a release from the St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Service in Birmingham announced that the Winter Storm Warning was extended to 6 a.m., Thursday.

A Winter Storm Warning means significant amounts of snow, sleet and ice are expected or occurring. This will make travel very hazardous or impossible.

According to the release, winter weather is likely across North Central Alabama through Wednesday night.

A second round of wintry precipitation was expected to enter the area Tuesday night and into Wednesday. This round of precipitation will likely produce high accumulations of snow and sleet for much of the North Central Alabama than the first round.

Freezing rain is also possible south of the highest snow totals.

Latest models have come in more aggressive with the snowfall totals for Wednesday afternoon and evening.

According to the release, wintry precipitation will begin in St. Clair County between 9 p.m., and midnight Tuesday with ice and change over to snow around noon Wednesday, exiting the county at about midnight Wednesday.

Snow accumulations for St. Clair County range from 1-3 inches. The northern portion of the county is expected to receive the most snow. The snow storm is expected to move through northern Talladega County.

According to the St. Clair County EMA release, winter weather will make travel very hazardous across much of North Central Alabama. Sporadic power outages are also possible for the locations that receive the highest totals of freezing rain.

Talladega city and county Schools will both be closed Wednesday, and administrators will be watching the weather closely for the rest of the week, according to superinentendents Doug Campbell and Suzanne Lacey, respectively.

Talladega city administrative offices will also be closed Wednesday, according to City Manager Brian Muenger.

"We'll be reevaluating on Thursday, but we're concerned about bringing in administrative personnel in the morning and then having to send them home early as the weather gets worse. Anyway, most administrative business tends to come to a halt when winter weather is coming."

Muenger also said there is a greater chance of ice this time, which poses more of a threat to power lines in the area. In the event of power outages, the first shelter to open will be Talladega City Hall, which has its own backup generators.

"We'll have it ready if we need to," Muenger said. "But right now, we're all staffed up and ready."

Talladega County Administrator Wayne Hall said no decision had been made about county administrative offices as of 4:45 p.m. Tuesday. "We want to be as sure as we can," he said. "The Sheriff's Office and the road department are watching the conditions, and we will make a decision sometime later tonight."

Talladega County Emergency Management Agency Director Deborah Gaither said the county can expect precipitation with temperatures hovering at or just above the freezing mark. Bridges and overpasses could become dangerous, she said.

“Wednesday, between 10:30 a.m. through noon, we will change over to a wintry mix of sleet and ice, and by 5 p.m., it will have changed over to all snow,” Gaither said.

Residents can expect 1/10 an inch of ice to include up to 3 inches of snow. Northern Talladega County will be impacted the most, she predicts.

"Lincoln is expected to get the brunt of this storm in Talladega County, and conditions will be better the further south you go,” Gaither said, “although, none of us are out of the woods on this anticipated event for tomorrow.

Sylacauga City Schools will be closed Wednesday. The school system announced the closure just before 3 p.m. Tuesday. A decision on whether to close schools Thursday will be made today.

Cap and gown pictures scheduled for Sylacauga High School seniors will still be taken Thursday, unless school is canceled.

Students, employees and parents can find the most recent information on Sylacauga school closings on the system’s Facebook page. Notification will also be sent via SchoolCast phone messages.

Home staff writers David Atchison, Emily McLain and Chris Norwood contributed to this story.