By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times
Locals will see lingering ice melt away and weather warm up over the weekend, but officials say to be prepared for potentially freezing temperatures and snow again by the middle of next week.
Cullman County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Phyllis Little said the area will see temperatures with highs in the upper 50s over the weekend, but by next Wednesday there will be potential for another arctic chill mirroring this week’s events.
“We are in that cycle of weather where the moisture is in place now and if we get a really big lift in the jet stream and another severe shot of cold air, we could have snow measurable again next week,” Little said. “We’re too far out right now for the model to be accurate. There could be no more than a few flurries and it be gone, but this is winter and we have to prepare for worse cases scenarios. If it is measurable snow, it could cause travel problems like it did this week. We’re essentially paid to think about the worst-case scenario and hope for the best.”
Thousands of motorists were stranded in Birmingham, Atlanta, and surrounding areas earlier this week because of hazardous road conditions, which led six states to declare a state of emergency and further push communities to better prepare for treacherous winter weather.
Little said her agency will continue to monitor the weather for potentially hazardous outlook and will take all proper precautions to ensure that Cullman County will have safe outlets for travelers.
“This is the South and occasionally over the years, weather comes in cycles and we get more winter precipitation. We just take it like it comes and get through it,” Little said. “Fortunately, we didn’t have I-65 (Interstate-65) shut down, but we had a shelter at the Cullman Civic Center ready to open if it was needed. The local Red Cross volunteers do an outstanding job and had the shelter ready in a short period of time to open for anyone who needed it overnight. We hope nothing happens next week, but if it does, we are prepared.”
Huntsville National Weather Service Meteorologist Kurt Weber said temperature highs could reach 60 degrees over the weekend, but Saturday night will see potential rain showers which could develop into thunderstorms over the weekend.
“Sunday night into Monday night there will still be a good chance of showers and it might mix with snow north of the Tennessee River and Monday night we will have showers and thunderstorms back into the forecast,” Weber said. “It could be severe weather, not overwhelmingly so, but a lot of wind energy will come with that system. It definitely looks interesting. As we get into Wednesday, it looks like the highs will be mid-30s and lows in the mid to upper-20s. It won’t be bone-chilling cold air, but snow could come on the tail end of that front. We will continue to monitor the weather pattern changes.”
Lauren Estes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 256-734-2131, ext. 137.