It seemed no sooner had Thursday’s snowfall taken over the Shoals landscape, it evaporated under bright sunshine.
If only the same could be said about the flooding.
Northwest Alabama experienced brilliant late-morning to early afternoon snowfall but escaped significant accumulation. Reports indicated a trace to an inch of snowfall in northwest Alabama, although some regions, including portions of Franklin County, reported up to 2 inches.
In most regions, the snow was gone by mid-afternoon once the sun came out, but it still lingered in some shaded, high-elevation areas, officials said.
George Grabryan, director of the Lauderdale County Emergency Management Agency, enjoyed the refreshing appearance of the sun Thursday afternoon.
“We’ve still got black ice to worry about, but 43 degrees and sunny looks awfully good,” Grabryan said.
The next concern for emergency officials surrounds the possibility of black ice forming by this morning. These often are patches of ice that motorists don’t see in time to react.
The National Weather Service office in Huntsville issued a statement Thursday afternoon cautioning motorists about black ice, which forms from lingering moisture and below-freezing weather.
“It’s going to be in the mid-20s for a long period of time overnight, and that’s just not good,” Grabryan said. “The water on the surface will more than likely freeze and what doesn’t evaporate with wind action will freeze.”
Grabryan said several areas in the county received a high combination of sleet and snow, causing difficult driving conditions for a while. Those areas included St. Florian, north of Happy Hollow, Alabama 207 near Anderson and U.S. 72 at Joe Wheeler State Park.
Mark Dale, maintenance engineer with the Alabama Department of Transportation, said crews were spread out in the eight-county Second Division.
“We were watching the cameras and you could see it snowing hard over at Killen, but we had hardly anything here at the office in Tuscumbia,” Dale said. The Transportation Department has video cameras that allow them to monitor conditions at eight Shoals sites.
Dale said local maintenance crews were sent to Morgan County to help clear U.S. 31 near Decatur.
He said crews sprayed calcium magnesium acetate, a deicing agent, or spread sand on bridges around the Shoals and salt brine on some roads as a precaution.
Dale said weather-related problems also existed in Winston and Marion counties.
Motorists are urged to check the Transportation Department’s website, dot.state.al.us, for road conditions during winter weather events. The road conditions tab is on the right side of the site.
Floodwaters from a January of heavy rainfall covered much of McFarland Park in Florence on Thursday. Grabryan said the water likely will remain throughout the weekend. In addition, creeks and low-lying areas could flood.
“People need to stay out of all these creeks,” Grabryan said. “That not only puts themselves in danger, but also those who might have to get them out.”
The Tennessee River crested at 21.4 feet at McFarland on Thursday, weather service officials said. The flood stage at the park is 18 feet. It should start falling by this morning.
Colbert EMA Director Mike Melton said the winds, which were about 15 mph, already were drying roads by the afternoon.
Melton said the eastern end of the county still had some roads closed because of flooding. In addition, Sheffield officials were keeping an eye on Alabama Avenue, near Riverfront Park, because of rising water from the river.
Today is expected to be clear with a high near 50, making it the first day free of precipitation in the Shoals since Jan. 8. No rain is in the forecast at least through Thursday.
The Shoals has experienced 7.14 inches of rain in January. The normal amount for this time of January is 2.49 inches.
Staff Writer Russ Corey contributed to this report.
Bernie Delinski can be reached at 256-740-5739 or bernie.delinski@TimesDaily.com.