Tornadoes today?

Published 11:59 pm Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The National Weather Service has raised the threat level of severe weather for Covington County for today, county Emergency Management Agency Director Kristi Stamnes said Wednesday.

“Most of the severe weather on Wednesday stayed well to the east of us, but there is a low pressure system that’s developing again will lead to the development of more severe storms today as another cold front comes our way,” Stamnes said. “That means we could see more thunderstorms, possible tornadoes, heavy rain and hail. A comparison could be the weather like we had last week.”

Stamnes said the rain will start lightly in the morning and will get “gradually worse as the day goes on.”

“They are expected to start up between 11 a.m. and noon,” she said. “These severe storms will be scattered thunderstorms, or what we call supercells, developing ahead of the line in the late morning and afternoon ahead of the squall line. That squall line will move across in the afternoon and evening hours producing damaging winds … large hail and isolated tornadoes.”

Rainfall is expected between 1 and 3 inches, she said.

“That is another thing we are worried about,” she said. “The ground is already saturated, so all this rain we get now is just going to sit on top of the ground. There is a real danger of overturned trees during high winds and rising waters. Remember the saying, ‘Turn around. Don’t drown.’ If you can’t see that road, don’t drive across it.”

Stamnes said the EMA is monitoring both the Conecuh and Yellow Rivers, watching for rising water, as well as any changes in school schedules.

As of press time, no changes had been announced for the Andalusia City Schools or Covington County Schools. However, the Opp City Schools will close at 11:30 a.m.

“Right now, we’re encouraging people to purchase all weather radios,” she said. “You can get them at any retail store. They give a lot of crucial info during storm situations. Also, if you hear a siren, that means we’re under a tornado warning — which means either rotation was spotted on the radar or the conditions are favorable for a tornado. You need to seek shelter inside, on the lowest ground away from windows and doors.

“We need to be safe at all times,” she said.

This is not the last of the severe weather the county is expected to receive this week. Forecasters are predicting clear skies on Friday and Saturday, but more thunderstorms on Sunday, Stamnes said.