CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

January 16, 2013

Snow, difficult road conditions possible; county schools delay opening

By Benjamin Bullard
The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — This week’s raw and rainy weather may have one more insult in store for Cullman County before sunnier skies emerge in time for the weekend.

The Huntsville office of the National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch until 6 p.m. Thursday for Cullman County and much of North Alabama, forecasting a rush of colder temperatures on top of continued precipitation throughout the morning and into the afternoon.

Although surface temperatures are expected to remain slightly above freeing for the Cullman area until after dark, meteorologists anticipate most of today’s precipitation to come in the form of snow, as temperatures in the upper atmosphere continue to drop.

Citing the potential for icy road conditions, Cullman County school officials decided late Wednesday to delay the start of Thursday classes by two hours. All county schools will open to students Thursday at 10 a.m.

City school and Wallace State Community College officials had not made a decision concerning possible delays by press time Wednesday.

While classes are still scheduled to end at their regular 3 p.m. closing time, county school officials realize the weather situation is fluid and are prepared to adjust Thursday’s schedule if conditions change.

Check The Cullman Times online at www.cullmantimes.com throughout the day for announcements concerning school closings.

Cullman County Emergency Management Agency director Phyllis Little said the greatest potential for travel-related weather problems likely will occur after dark today, when the thermometer starts to plunge.

“It makes sense for the county schools to use caution because of all the long, rural bus routes they have to travel, but for most people in cars, travel throughout the day shouldn’t be a major problem, except in some isolated areas,” she said.

“The snow we get during the day is going to stick to grassy areas and trees, but the asphalt on roads will be warmer than the ground, and anything during the day would pretty much melt off. But once it gets dark, any moisture that’s still standing on the roads — or anywhere else — is likely to freeze. Black ice is a concern for us Thursday night and early Friday morning.”

Just how much residual moisture will remain on local roads late Thursday is hard to predict, but Cullman County has been inundated with rainfall since late last week. Hours before a flood warning for North Alabama was set to expire Wednesday, Little said local soil was already at the saturation point and wouldn’t efficiently absorb any additional moisture.

“We don’t have a lot of areas that flood in this area, but, with the ground so saturated, it’s not going to soak in,” she said. “But, after the sun comes up Friday, temps are going to warm into the upper 40s and low 50s, so after all this, it should be a nice weekend.”

Benjamin Bullard may be contacted at bbullard@cullmantimes.com or 256-734-2131, ext. 270.