Emergency officials kept an eye Tuesday night on a freeze line that hung menacingly just northwest of the Shoals, while they also kept tabs on impending flooding that could start today and a chance of snow Thursday.
Dan Dixon, meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Huntsville, said Tuesday the freeze line was at the Tennessee and Mississippi counties that border the Shoals.
Northwest Alabama is under a winter weather advisory until 6 a.m. today, with an 80 percent chance of rain or freezing rain and a low around 32 degrees, according to the forecast. Little or no ice accumulation is expected unless the freeze line dropped overnight.
“We’ll probably still be seeing a mix of rain and freezing rain in the morning,” Dixon said. “The low forecast is right around freezing, within a degree or so. It looks like after the sun’s been out for a few hours it will probably warm up, actually into the lower- to mid-40s.”
The threat is similar to Tuesday morning’s, which produced ice on trees and power lines but avoided problems with roads. Schools opened late Tuesday as a precaution, and officials were pondering whether to take similar action this morning.
George Grabryan, director of the Lauderdale County Emergency Management Office, hopes for clear roads again today.
“In the morning, we’ll get up and ride some roads very early,” Grabryan said. “We’re hoping the temperature will be where it was (Tuesday) morning or higher so we won’t have issues.”
Generally, any accumulations this morning would be less than one-tenth of an inch and limited to trees and power lines, according to the weather service.
Wayne County is under an ice storm warning through 8 a.m. Icy accumulations in that county could reach one-fourth to one-half inch and could gather on roads, according to the weather service office in Nashville.
The Shoals also is under a flood warning, as the Tennessee River continues to rise. By 1 p.m. Tuesday, the river was at 16.1 feet and rising. The flood stage is 18 feet, weather service officials said.
The river is expected to rise above flood stage by early this afternoon and continue to rise to near 20.2 feet by Friday morning, officials said. The underpass at Alabama 20 beneath O’Neal Bridge in Florence floods at 20 feet.
McFarland Park was closed Tuesday afternoon and campers were evacuated.
Local officials said they haven’t heard reports of flooding, but that could change today.
“I just can’t stress enough the importance of avoiding getting in the water and avoiding driving over roads that have water over them,” Grabryan said.
While rainfall will begin to taper this afternoon, officials are keeping an eye on a snow threat as a storm system will start affecting the area by late tonight into Thursday morning.
As of Tuesday night, it was too soon to predict whether accumulations will occur Thursday, but there is a 60 percent chance of rain and snow Thursday morning and snow in the afternoon with a high near 40.
Bernie Delinski can be reached at 256-740-5739 or bernie.delinski@TimesDaily.com.