Bracing for Sunday snow: EMA activates ahead of winter weather

Published 5:11 pm Friday, January 7, 2011

All eyes will be toward the sky Sunday, as significant winter weather is expected to hit central Alabama.

The National Weather Service in Birmingham issued a hazardous weather outlook Friday afternoon for much of the northern half of the state, including Chilton County.

The statement says snow accumulations between 2 and 5 inches are possible south of a line that roughly follows Interstate 20. Ice could also be a factor, with a trace to quarter inch forecasted for Chilton County.

Places above Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Anniston could receive even more snow, where 4-7 inches are possible.

Possible snow accumulations from the National Weather Service in Calera.

The wintry weather is expected to begin late Sunday and continue overnight into the day Monday.

In anticipation of the storm, the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, which is based in Clanton, has been activated.

The EMA advises residents to prepare for the storm by having emergency kits stocked, staying aware of changing road conditions and keeping informed about local forecasts.

“It is really important for Alabama residents to take this threat of severe weather seriously, freezing weather over an extended period of time has the potential to cause power outages and an interruption in communication services,” said Brock Long, Alabama EMA Director.

Ice is almost possible with Sunday's storm. A trace to almost a quarter inch is in the forecast for Chilton County.

Starting Saturday, the state EMA will activate its Emergency Operating Center at Level 3.

If the forecasts hold up, travel will likely be a problem Sunday and Monday. For those who must drive, Alabama State Troopers offer the following tips for safe winter travel:

•Avoid travel, if possible, when icy or other extremely hazardous driving conditions develop in your area.

•Keep your vehicle in good operating condition. Check antifreeze levels and use windshield washer solution suitable for freezing weather conditions. Keep gas tanks at least half full.

•Remember that weather and roadway conditions can quickly change. Adapt speeds to existing roadway conditions, and be alert to changing weather and the possibility of icy, slippery roads.

•During inclement weather, turn on headlights and windshield wipers and maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and other vehicles.

•Pay particular attention to bridges and overpasses, which have a tendency to develop extremely hazardous “black ice.”

•Keep blankets, a first aid kit, a charged cell phone and other emergency supplies in your vehicle.