Severe weather expected Saturday

Published 11:07 am Friday, April 23, 2010

The National Weather Service said Chilton County will see significant severe weather and maybe even tornado activity Saturday.

NWS meteorologist Greg Goggins said those living in mobile homes or other structures not equipped to handle severe weather should evacuate. Everyone else should take safety precautions.

Chilton County Emergency Management Agency Director Bill Collum said the county’s four storm shelters would be open in the case of any tornado warning.

“We encourage people to keep a weather radio — don’t depend on these sirens,” Collum said. “They are outdoor weather sirens; they’re meant to be heard outside. You might not hear them if you’re inside with the TV going.”

The primary time frame for severe weather in Chilton County and Central Alabama will be from noon to midnight on Saturday, Goggins said. There is a potent short wave coming in as a strong low pressure area develops across southern Arkansas and moves across the Northeast.

Goggins said a warm front will lift northward during early morning hours on Saturday, shifting some winds to the south and pumping unstable winds toward Central Alabama.

He said an unstable air mass is forming the storms, and a wind sheer will form and rotate.

He said the Chilton County environment is very conducive for severe weather and that strong tornados are possible across the entire Central Alabama area.

The severe weather should leave by Sunday morning, though there is a lingering chance of more across Southeastern counties such as Auburn in the early morning hours.

Temperatures will reach a high of 75 degrees Saturday. Cloudiness will decrease on Sunday with a high of 80 degrees, according to Goggins, who said the air will gradually get cooler.

Collum said the county’s shelters — in Clanton, Enterprise, Maplesville and West Chilton — are spaced so that any county resident could reach one in 10 minutes. National Weather Service tries to give people a warning at least 15 minutes before a storm hits. So, those in the path of a storm should have time to make it to a shelter — but have to be paying attention.

“We don’t want to panic about this thing,” Collum said. “Being prepared is the best thing to do, not panic. Have a plan so that, when you hear the warning, you can take care of your family.”