Madison Bailey, Correspondent
The National Weather Service out of Birmingham has defined an “enhanced risk” of severe storms for Alabama on Saturday, January 11.
All modes of severe weather will be possible with this event; including hail, straight line winds up to 70 mph, localized flooding and a possible tornado. There will be heavy periods of rain from Friday to Saturday that could total two or three inches.
As of Wednesday, there hasn’t been much change to the forecast, according to Myles Chamblee, an emergency manager for Calhoun County EMA.
“The timeline for this event is from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Saturday,” said Chamblee. “That will be updated the closer we get to the event. Most likely tomorrow [Thursday] the weather service will start breaking down the forecast a little more.”
James Spann, a local meteorologist and respected weather authority for Alabama, stated that Saturday could be a significant weather event.
“Based on the forecast large, synoptic scale state of the atmosphere, this could be a fairly significant severe weather threat for our state,” Spann said in a statement on his Facebook page. “But, we won’t know how the small, mesoscale features line up until we get closer to the weekend.”
Is a tornado threat in January unusual? Not really, according to Spann. Since 1950, Alabama has recorded 139 tornadoes during the month of January. Is it time to panic? No, but it is a good time to prepare, according to Chamblee.
“The main thing to know right now is that there is a risk of severe storms for the state on Saturday,” said Chamblee. “Now is a good time to know your plan for severe weather and make a plan if you don’t have one in place. Know where to go if your home isn’t safe.”
Be sure to have a reliable way of getting weather warnings and receiving updates on the storms and have a designated safe place from storms in your home, and ensure that all family members are aware of where the safe place is. Cellphones and televisions are great ways of getting information, but every home and business should have an operational NOAA weather radio.
If you are a Jacksonville State University student or faculty member, you should make sure you are signed up to receive alerts from JSU, so you don’t miss important information about safety plans.
Should Jacksonville be placed under a tornado watch, local shelters will open to offer safety to those who need it. There are several public places in the city of Jacksonville that have open safe rooms for people to stay when there is a tornado watch or warning in place. One of these places include the Jacksonville Public Safety Complex, where the Jacksonville police and fire departments are housed. There are also several JSU buildings across campus that can be accessed and used as a safe space during storms if needed.
Visit www.calhounema.org/tornado-shelters to get a list of local shelters.