Winter Weather: Here’s what it means for our area
By Scott Buttram
TRUSSVILLE — The arctic system making its way across the country while dropping temperatures to record lows has been in the news for days, but what does it mean for Trussville, Clay, Pinson and our surrounding areas?
For starters, we are expecting lows in the single digits between Sunday night and Tuesday morning with wind chill as low as 7 below zero. Temperatures are not expected to rise above freezing for 60 straight hours, according to the National Weather Service in Birmingham.
The freezing rain and snow should reach our area between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Sunday.
There will also be some school delays in our area. Jefferson County schools will delay opening until 10 a.m. Monday and Tuesday. St. Clair County schools will delay opening by two hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Trussville City schools will be closed on Monday and open two hours later than normal on Tuesday.
NWS in Birmingham has issued the following warnings and watches for our local area:
- Hard Freeze Warning in effect from January 6, 12:00 AM CST until January 7, 12:00 PM CST
- Winter Weather Advisory in effect from January 5, 06:00 PM CST until January 6, 11:00 AM CST
- Wind Chill Advisory in effect from January 6, 12:00 AM CST until January 7, 12:00 PM CST
- Wind Advisory in effect from January 5, 06:00 PM CST until January 6, 06:00 PM CST
The rain tonight will give way to freezing rain and light snow, as temperatures plunge well below freezing in a matter of minutes.
Sunday: Showers likely, mainly after 3 p.m. Cloudy, with a high near 54. Southeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 60 percent.
Sunday night: Rain or freezing rain before midnight, then snow and sleet likely between midnight and 3 a.m., then a chance of flurries after 3 a.m. Low around 13. Wind chill values as low as -3. Blustery, with a southwest wind 10 to 15 mph becoming northwest 20 to 25 mph in the evening. Winds could gust as high as 35 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100 percent. Little or no ice accumulation expected. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Monday: A 20 percent chance of snow showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 19. Wind chill values as low as -7. Blustery, with a northwest wind 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Monday night: Clear, with a low around 6. Wind chill values as low as -5. Northwest wind 10 to 15 mph.
Tuesday: Sunny, with a high near 24. Northwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the afternoon.
Tuesday night: Clear, with a low around 14.
Wednesday: Sunny, with a high near 43.
According to ABC 33/40 chief meteorologist James Spann and Alabamawx.com, the freezing rain and snow won’t be as big of a concern, as will the plunging temperatures and extended period below freezing.
There probably won’t be enough accumulation to bring down power lines, but strong north winds of 15 to 30 mph could easily do the job, Spann said.
“The greatest risk of freezing rain/snow will come from 6 tonight through 6 a.m. tomorrow,” Spann said. “The main issue will be with icy spots on roads with the flash freeze.”
Spann warns that driving conditions, especially Sunday night and Monday morning, could be treacherous.
“Any standing water from the afternoon rain showers will freeze quickly, and the light snow could also create a few icy spots,” Spann said. “While the ice on roads probably won’t be especially widespread, it is a real issue, and if you are driving tonight or tomorrow morning be aware of this potential and be extremely careful. You don’t want to get into an accident with very low temperatures and sub-zero wind chill values late tonight.”