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January 28, 2014

UPDATE (2) More snow possible, black ice expected tonight

CULLMAN — Snow that fell Tuesday morning is expected to linger until Thursday, making many roads hazardous across Cullman County.

With temperatures struggling to get above freezing Wednesday and lows at night hovering in the low teens, any moisture left on roadways from Tuesday’s snow flurries will likely refreeze, forming black ice. A wind chill advisory will remain in effect until 9 a.m. Wednesday, with wind chill values falling to zero to 5 degrees below, according to the NWS.  

Black ice could begin to form on area roadways as snow melts and refreezes. Some roads may become impassable while others may have slick spots.

“Anything precipitation that fell on the road isn’t going anywhere,” said Cullman County Emergency Management Agency Director Phyllis Little. “People need to stay off the roads and stay at home if at all possible.”

Woodland Street, from Edgwood Drive to U.S. 31, in Cullman remained closed overnight. The City of Cullman street department reopened streets Tuesday afternoon it closed earlier in the morning due to slick conditions from a dusting of snow. Four wrecks were reported in the city limits Tuesday, Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper said.

The following streets were opened Drippings Spring Road, from Louis Avenue Northwest to West Main, Carroll Acres-Briarwood Lane Southeast, Larkwood Drive Northeast, from Larkwood Court to Chateau Drive Northeast and Convent Road from Morning Drive to the waterfall.

Street Superintendent Rick Henry said conditions improved on the other streets, and crews sanded Convent Road and Dripping Springs Road.

“U.S. 31 and Alabama 157 are in good shape,” Henry said. “We’ll have a crew working overnight and will be checking on streets and railroad overpasses.”

The city street department also put down salt at City Hall, the library and the egress/ ingress at Cullman Regional Medical Center’s emergency route for ambulances.

“We feel like we’ve got everything pretty well covered and have done everything we can do to try to keep the citizens of Cullman safe,” Henry said.

Alabama State Troopers said there were no significant hazardous road conditions locally Tuesday evening. However, they encouraged motorists to drive with caution as there may be patches of ice on roadway and overpasses, said Trooper Curtis Summerville, AST spokesman.

While many major highways in Cullman County appeared to be in good shape Tuesday evening, Interstate 65 at the Blount County line was very hazardous, which caused several wrecks, Little said. Troopers handled several minor wrecks at the county line, and drivers should stay off the roads until further notice, Little said.

Cullman County Sheriff Mike Rainey urged drivers to use caution while traveling local county roads, especially on secondary roads because of the potential for ice.

“The Cold Springs area and County Road 1301 on the other side of the interstate are treacherous,” Rainey said Tuesday morning. “We are having some minor wrecks so we ask that the drivers please slow down and give plenty of room between vehicles. What’s out here on the roadways isn’t going to go away; There are definitely slick spots, especially the secondary roads that haven’t been traveled as much. Use caution while you’re traveling.”

The City of Hanceville opened a warming station at City Hall (located at 112 Commercial St. S.E.) until further notice. Residents need to check in with the police department. The American Red Cross were preparing to open a warming shelter at the Cullman Civic Center (located at 510 Fifth St. S.W.) Tuesday evening.

The Cullman Electric Management Cooperative reported no weather-related outages Tuesday, however it will have crews on standby, said Brian Lacy, utility spokesman. Cullman EMC’s main concern during the bitterly cold weather is its customers’ energy usage, Lacy said.

During past recent cold snaps, the Tennessee Valley Authority, which provides power to Cullman, has issued notices to utilities and customers to conserve electricity when spikes in power usage occur, especially during peak times from 5- 7 a.m., Lacy said. As of Tuesday evening, TVA had not issued notices to conserve power.  

 Staff writer Lauren Estes contributed to this story.

Tiffeny Owens can be reached by email at towens@cullmantimes.com or by phone at 256-734-2131, ext. 135.

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