Officials prepared as wintry weather approached county

From staff reports
Posted 1/29/19

A winter storm warning is in effect for Walker County and the surrounding area until noon today, although it is unclear how much travel conditions could be impacted. According to the Birmingham …

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Officials prepared as wintry weather approached county


A winter storm warning is in effect for Walker County and the surrounding area until noon today, although it is unclear how much travel conditions could be impacted. 

According to the Birmingham office of the National Weather Service (NWS) Monday afternoon, a strong cold front was coming in with rain last night, with rain to start at 9 p.m. and eventually turn into snow in the early morning hours. While snow was expected to fall only from one to three hours, accumulations were expected to be 2 to 3 inches in the warning area. 

"We're more concerned about road conditions," Walker County Emergency Management Coordinator Regina Myers said Monday afternoon. "We are anticipating travel issues in the morning. We have a small window tomorrow (Tuesday) to get above freezing. But whatever melts on the roadways is still going to freeze around sundown." 

"Temperatures will fall below freezing across the warning area and portions of the advisory area, resulting in potentially dangerous travel conditions," the NWS warning noted.

Some models from other weather sources were showing sunny skies and temperatures rising into the 30s Tuesday morning in this area. One WBRC meteorologist indicated midday Monday that some travel might be possible Tuesday afternoon.

However, almost all the sources note early morning travel for two days, as well as evening travel Tuesday night, might pose danger if the temperatures are low enough to freeze. 

The NWS said the forecast for Jasper Tuesday is a high of 34 and a low that night of 20. Wednesday is to be mostly sunny with a high of 40. 

Myers said it was better for everyone to prepare for problems with snow and travel. 

"If you don't have to be out, don't be out," because then responders might otherwise have to be sent out to help, when they could go somewhere else needed," she said. "We ask everyone who doesn't have to be out to please stay home." 

Walker County Sheriff Nick Smith posted on Facebook his department would do some patrolling in military, Humvee-style vehicles acquired through the government's  10-33 program. 

Winston County schools and Sumiton Christian School announced by early afternoon Monday they would be closed Tuesday, and will monitor to see what to announce for Wednesday.

Jasper City Schools will be closed Tuesday and will continue monitoring weather conditions to decide whether to close Wednesday.  Walker County Schools will be closed Tuesday as well and will make a decision Tuesday afternoon about whether to close or delay schools on Wednesday.

Winfield City Schools and Marion County Schools will also be closed Tuesday, as will schools in Haleyville and Fayette County. Bevill State Community College will be closed at all locations on Tuesday. 

Parrish town officials announced trash services may be delayed, as officials do not know about the plans of Republic. The Cordova Senior Center will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday. 

The Jasper Family Services Center plans to open its warming center tonight at 5 p.m., located at 1400 19th St. W. The center also planned to open last night. 

Executive Director Donna Kilgore said the center will likely be open through Friday, due to temperatures below freezing many nights this week. However, an announcement will be made daily on the family services center Facebook page on whether the center will be open. The warming center can accommodate 20 people. 

Kilgore said anyone who plans to come to the warming center should be there by no later than 11 p.m. each opening night.

The Walker County Courthouse and non-emergency county facilities are closing Tuesday. County Administrator Robbie Dickerson said a decision would be make later today on what to do Wednesday.  The Walker County Solid Waste Office will be closed Tuesday, with Tuesday's route to be run Wednesday if weather permits.

Myers said the county was prepared to sand bridges if necessary, but it does not pretreat its roads and bridges like the state, as the county only has sanding capability. 

Out of an abundance of caution for its carriers, the Daily Mountain Eagle posted early deadlines Monday to deliver the Tuesday edition of the newspaper early. There was a chance that Wednesday's newspaper might be delayed until warmer temperatures arrived later that day. Stories will also be posted on the e-Edition online. 

Other announced changes due to the weather include:

• Jasper Veterinary Clinic - closed Tuesday, will re-evaluate for Wednesday.

• Oakman Senior Center - closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Oakman Mayor Cory Franks said town hall will be closed Tuesday as well, if roadways are impassable. The town's garbage service may also be delayed Wednesday, if weather conditions are still causing issues.

• Urgent Care Northwest/Glover Drug Urgentcare Pharmacy - will open at noon Tuesday. 

• Pregnancy Test and Resource Center - closed Tuesday. 

• The Rotary Club of Jasper has cancelled Tuesday's meeting.

• The opening reception for the next exhibit at the Bankhead House and Heritage Center has been postponed until Thursday, Jan. 31. 

• the Arc of Walker County's Day Program – closed Tuesday. 

 A spokesman for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency urged the public to take safety precautions. He also reminded the public in an email "that most automobile insurance providers will not cover vehicles being driven on closed roads or roads that have been deemed impassable due to weather related hazards.."