As if the possibility of flooding isn’t enough for emergency officials to worry about, now there is a threat of frozen precipitation.
The National Weather Service forecast called for rain possibly mixed with sleet Sunday night through about noon today. Everything will switch over to rain in the afternoon, and little or no accumulation of frozen precipitation is expected, although the Shoals could see additional sleet tonight.
You’ll also notice a bitter change in the temperature, thanks to a cold front that started moving through Sunday afternoon. Today’s high is expected to reach only 36 degrees, after Sunday’s balmy high of 73. The Sunday cold front dropped that temperature from 73 at 2 p.m. to 47 by 5 p.m., according to weather service data.
George Grabryan, director of the Lauderdale County Emergency Management Agency, said flooding is a major concern. He said several county roads were closed at times Saturday and Sunday because of flooding. The weather service has placed northwest Alabama under a flash flood watch.
“We already closed some roads before this front came in, so we’re going to have some flooding,” Grabryan said.
The forecast called for 1 to 2 inches of rainfall overnight, and the Shoals already is dampened from rainfall over recent days.
As of early Sunday evening, 5.11 inches of rainfall had been recorded at the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport, according to the weather service. The normal for this point in January is 1.92 inches.
“A big concern is if the rainfall that we’ve already had sits on the roads, and other fronts come through dropping more rain,” Grabryan said. “I ask everyone to please stay off lakes and waterways until conditions improve, and don’t try to drive anywhere where water is covering a portion of the road. The weather service uses the slogan, ‘Turn around, don’t drown,’ and that is excellent advice.”
A weather service advisory stated the front Sunday night and early this morning could carry wind gusts as high as 30 to 40 mph, as well as lightning. Winds today are expected to be 5 to 10 mph.
“With the wind and as saturated as we are, not only are we going to have flooding, but we could be having to deal with trees being blown down as well,” Grabryan said.
He said he hopes the colder temperatures will prevent any severe weather threats. The problem is, those temperatures could be low enough to cause other problems.
“A couple of weather models are showing potential for freezing rain and sleet in the morning and again Monday night,” Grabryan said. “But weather-service officials say we’ve been so warm, that may not happen. The main thing, in next couple of days, is to be really careful out there.”
A portion of East Sixth Street in Colbert County at Fennell Lane was barricaded Sunday because that section traditionally doesn’t drain rapidly, and additional rain was expected, Colbert
EMA Director Mike Melton said.
“I hope the winds don’t cause problems later on by blowing trees down,” Melton said Sunday afternoon. “That’s always a concern. They’re also hinting about the possibility of freezing rain. The temperature will be around 36 degrees around 6 a.m. and Monday night’s lows will be around 34 to 35, so we’re going to be very close to the freeze line.”
Another blustery day is expected Tuesday, with a 60 percent chance of rain and a high near 39 and low around 33.
Sunny skies are anticipated later in the week, with rain chances dropping to 30 percent Wednesday and 20 percent Thursday. No rain is expected for the weekend.
Bernie Delinski can be reached at 256-740-5739 or bernie.delinski@TimesDaily.com.