By Tiffeny Owens and Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times
Cullman city officials are preparing for Monday night’s winter weather advisory with a shelter on standby, additional emergency responders on duty, and vehicles staged in the area with four-wheel drive capabilities.
The National Weather Service predicts between 1 and 2 inches of snowfall south of the Tennessee River Monday night. Another round of wintry precipitation is expected tonight, beginning with a mix of rain and sleet changing over to snow overnight. One-to-three inches of accumulations is possible across Cullman, Marshall, Jackson and DeKalb counties, according to the NWS.
Overnight, meteorologists advised roads would become snow covered and slushy, causing slick spots and making driving hazardous.
Temperatures will warm above freezing today, with the high in the upper 30s, before falling below freezing again at night.
The second round of snow and sleet tonight could last through much of Wednesday. The greatest risk of moderate to possible heavy accumulation will be along a line between Cullman and Scottsboro, according to NWS.
They predict it will be a “wet snowfall,” which will make driving conditions more hazardous Tuesday evening and overnight, according to the NWS. As temperatures fall again Wednesday, icy road conditions are likely to develop were snow has fallen.
The area will be under a winter storm watch through 6 a.m. Thursday.
Following a briefing with Cullman County EMA Director Phyllis Little, Cullman Police Chief Kenny Culpepper and Cullman Fire Rescue Chief Junior Reinhardt said they will have additional staff available in case of stranded motorists or a larger number of accidents caused by icy roads.
“We are preparing for the worse case scenario: The interstate shuts down and we have travelers seeking shelter,” Culpepper said. “We have the Cullman Civic Center on standby to set up a shelter and the Red Cross ready to assist if that happens. We will also have extra personnel out tonight in case of hazardous roadways and stranded motorists.”
“We will stage some fire department trucks around areas that are harder to get to, as well as, some four-wheel drive units for medical calls,” Reinhardt said. “It’s important also, if you are going to be traveling, make sure you have items in your car like snacks, water, a blanket, flashlights, in case you do become stranded.”
Culpepper said if roadways become impassable, drivers should try to pull their vehicle off the road for emergency personnel that may be traveling it later.
“One of the big issues with Birmingham and Atlanta, emergency vehicles were unable to drive on the roads to get to accidents and medical calls because vehicles were jammed together,” Culpepper said. “If you don’t have to be out, don’t get out. That will prevent more potential accidents. Also if you do become stranded, try and pull off to the side of the road, instead of blocking the roadway.”
ALDOT pretreated bridges, overpasses and certain highways Monday in preparation for the winter weather, said Linda Crocket, spokeswoman with the Alabama Department of Transportation.
“We’ll have crews and trucks on standby as well,” she said.
Local crews will also be treating roadways in and around the City of Cullman.
Cullman city department heads met with Cullman County EMA Director Phyllis Little to discuss the winter weather advisory which will be in effect at 6 p.m. on Monday night, to further prepare the area. Little said at this time, it looks like a freezing rain and snow mix could cause some travel and road problems.
“We are also looking at another round of similar weather coming in Tuesday night and affecting travel Tuesday night and Wednesday morning,” Little said. “We’re hoping everything will change to rain on Wednesday afternoon. If you don’t have to travel, stay home. If you can delay traveling in the morning, do that.”