While snow was on the forecast earlier this week, ice is looking more likely today.
The National Weather Service in Huntsville has issued a Winter Weather Advisory through 6PM for far north Alabama, including the following counties: Colbert, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, and Morgan. The main hazard is a “wintry mix” of freezing rain and sleet, which could cause ice to accumulate on roads and power lines, particularly in areas north of the Tennessee River.
So far, North Alabama has only seen rain this morning as temperatures have remained above freezing. However, as the system moves across the area, temperatures are expected to plummet into the teens by evening, with wind chills in the single digits.
1. Timing and impact
The Winter Weather Advisory is in effect until 6 p.m. Midday precipitation is likely to cause bridges and overpasses to become slick.
After sunset, temperatures will drop below freezing and are expected to remain below freezing all day Friday.
Icy roads are expected to impact the evening commute Thursday and the morning commute Friday.
2. Safety considerations
The National Weather Service emphasizes the 4 P’s: People, Pets, Pipes and Plants
People: Dress warmly and avoid going out if possible. The City of Huntsville has provided the following information regarding local warming centers for those in need:
- University Baptist Church: 809 Jordan Lane NW
- The Downtown Rescue Mission: 1400 Evangel Dr NW
- The Salvation Army: 305 Seminole Dr NW
The centers open at 2PM Thursday and will remain open until 9AM Saturday, January 8. Huntsville public transit and the Huntsville Police Department plan to provide free rides to and from the centers as long as roads remain safe.
Pets: Pets that normally stay outdoors may be at risk when the temperatures dip below freezing. A bulletin published by the city during last February’s winter storm emphasized the following:
- Outdoor pets must have adequate shelter per Section 5-6 of Huntsville’s animal cruelty ordnance. The shelter must have a floor, roof, four sides and a door and maintain a temperature greater than 40 degrees and less than 90 degrees.
- Animals need fresh water that is not frozen.
- If possible, it is best to bring pets inside during extreme cold weather.
Pipes: The American Red Cross has detailed instructions regarding protecting your pipes from freezing during bitterly cold temperatures. Some of those include:
- Open cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom to allow warm air to circulate more freely
- Leave faucets running at a drip to keep water moving through the pipes
- Keep the thermostat set at the same temperature during the day and night
Plants: Bring in outdoor plants that will be threatened by the cold. For plants that can not be brought inside, Better Homes and Gardens provides more tips.
Several local schools and businesses have announced closings and modified hours, including:
- Huntsville City Schools: Virtual Learning Thursday, Jan. 6
- Madison City Schools: Virtual Learning Thursday, Jan. 6
- Madison County Schools: Closed Thursday, Jan. 6
- Heart of the Valley YMCA locations: Closed Thursday, Jan. 6
- U.S. Space and Rocket Center: Closed Thursday, Jan. 6
Visit WHNT for a full list.