Snowy, cold weather forecast for Alabama
MOBILE (AP) — Forecasts for snow led to school closings, postponed athletic events, canceled flights and put state troopers on alert Thursday as cities across Alabama prepared for wintery weather.
The National Weather Service in Mobile said a mix of rain and sleet on the Alabama coast was expected to give way to snow Friday. Mobile meteorologist Don Faulkner predicted 1 to 3 inches in Mobile and 3 to 5 inches in counties to the north.
Gov. Bob Riley said state government agencies will be closed on Friday. Exceptions include critical response staff as determined by each Cabinet member, agency director or commissioner.
“The amount of snow areas of Alabama are expected to receive is rare. It’s important for citizens to be aware of hazards and to be prepared for this winter weather,” Riley said in a statement Thursday. “I urge all Alabamians to heed the caution messages of our state agencies and make sure their families and friends do the same.”
The Alabama Department of Transportation has personnel and equipment, including deicing materials, sand and salt, dump trucks and spreaders available statewide. Any road closures will be posted online at www.dot.state.al.us.
School officials called off classes and most athletic events scheduled Friday in Mobile and Baldwin counties.
But one part of city life is expected to go on: Mardi Gras parades.
Mobile city spokeswoman Barbara Drummond said the weekend parades starting Friday night should be able to roll as scheduled.
“We’re getting ready to kick off the biggest leg of Mardi Gras,” she said. The city’s fire and police departments will have their employees working the festivities.
Weather officials say 1 to 2 inches can be expected in the Birmingham area on Friday, and 2 to 4 inches are possible across central Alabama. A winter storm watch is in effect from midnight Thursday to 6 p.m. Friday for that area and parts of south Alabama.
At least six flights at Mobile Regional Airport were canceled and officials warned that more cancelations or delays were likely.
Alabama State Troopers spokesman Cpl. Steve Smith said troopers were out in force Thursday to “get ahead of the game,” and every available one was going on 24-hour call beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Smith had one major tip for Alabamians looking to drive in the snow or sleet: Don’t.
“Get home, get to where they are going and stay there and stay off the road,” Smith said. “Pay attention to the television and radio. Pay attention to updates on road closures and the weather. Be particular on bridges and overpasses, look for black ice. If you don’t have to be on the road, don’t get on it.”
If there is an accident, Smith said, “be patient. We will get to you when we can. Be very detailed about your location.”