NWS Birmingham issued a WINTER STORM WARNING earlier this morning that will go into effect tonight at 6:00 pm for the following counties in Central Alabama: Fayette, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Marengo, Marion, Pickens, Sumter, Tuscaloosa, Walker, and Winston. This is set to expire at 12:00 am Tuesday.
NWS Birmingham also issued a WINTER STORM WATCH that will go into effect tonight at 9:00 pm for the following counties in Central Alabama: Bibb, Blount, Jefferson, Perry, and Shelby. This is set to expire at 12:00 am Tuesday.
The reason that a Winter Storm Watch was added for those central counties is that the latest model runs have been trending with colder temperatures making it further eastward into the area. At this point, the best chance for a wintry mix (mainly sleet and freezing rain) along and near the I-65 corridor (including the Birmingham metropolitan area) will come on Monday afternoon and evening.
There is high confidence that freezing rain will occur over the Winter Storm Warning locations, but sleet could mix into the action for the extreme northwestern parts of the area. The uncertain part of the forecast is exactly how far eastward will the freezing temperatures at the surface reach.
Significant impacts look to occur along and west of a line from Cuba (Sumter Co.) to Tuscaloosa (Tuscaloosa Co.) to Cordova (Walker Co.), including numerous power outages and dangerous travel conditions. Impact timing for these locations will be in a window from 6:00 pm tonight to 9:00 pm Monday night.
Elevated impacts look to occur east of that to a line stretching from Marion (Perry Co.) to Alabaster (Shelby Co.) to Walnut Grove (Etowah Co.), including sporadic power outages and difficult travel conditions. Impact timing for these locations will be in a window from 9:00 am Monday to 12:00 am Tuesday.
Limited impacts look to occur east of that to a line stretching from Selma (Dallas Co.) to Wilsonville (Shelby Co.) to Gadsden (Etowah Co.), including slick spots on roadways, especially on bridges and overpasses. Impact timing for these locations will be in a window from 9:00 am Monday to 12:00 am Tuesday.
Little or no impacts are expected at this time for locations east of those impact areas. A cold rain is expected for the eastern and southeastern parts of Central Alabama.
Forecast ice accumulations across Central Alabama west of a line from Selma (Dallas Co.) to Wilsonville (Shelby Co.) to Gadsden (Etowah Co.) range from as little as 0.01 inches to as high as 0.30 inches. The weight of 0.25 inches of ice or more could potentially bring down branches, limbs, or even weaker smaller trees, along with power lines.
Even after all the precipitation moves out of the area, more slick spots will form due to the remaining moisture on the roadways as overnight lows will fall into the lower teens to the lower 30s across the area from northwest to southeast. The bad news is that some of those locations in the northwestern parts of Central Alabama may not get above freezing again until Wednesday morning, as Tuesday’s highs are projected to reach the upper 20s to the upper 40s across the area from northwest to southeast. Wednesday’s highs will be in the lower 40s to the upper 50s across the area from northwest to southeast.
If you are in the Winter Storm Warning locations, now is the time to prepare. You have less than 24 hours to get ready.
- Make sure your phones, tablets, and other devices are fully charged.
- Travel is highly discouraged, but if you have to travel due to an emergency, be sure to pack an emergency kit (jumper cables, sand or kitty litter, flashlight, warm clothes and blankets, bottled water, and non-perishable snacks).
- Get supplies in case you are stuck at home for a few days (medications, food and water, pet food, and extra batteries for radios and flashlights).
- Set your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest settings.
- If you lose power and need to use a generator, be sure to turn the main off in the breaker box before you plug it in.
- Have a safe alternate heat source. Some may lose power for more than 24 hours and overnight lows are expected to be in the teens and 20s.