NWS: Tornadoes major threat

Published 1:18 am Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Heads up. Severe weather is on its way.


The National Weather Service warns that scattered to numerous severe thunderstorms are expected to develop across the region this afternoon and through early Wednesday morning.

Tornadoes, including some potentially strong and long tracked, are the main threat.

Damaging wind gusts of 60 to 80 mph and hail up to golfball size are also significant threats.

NWS forecasters say the timing of the severe weather locally will be from 8 p.m. until 4 a.m.

“Keep in mind that the greatest severe potential will occur during the nighttime hours,” forecasters said in a hazardous weather statement. “This combined with the fact storms will be moving very rapidly to the northeast will create a dangerous situation. Ensure you have multiple ways to receive warning and do not hesitate to take action if a warning is issued for your area.”

A wind advisory is also in effect from 10 a.m. until 6 a.m. Wednesday.

Local school superintendents say they are monitoring the severe weather and will make notifications through local media if the need arises to close school early today.

Andalusia City Schools Superintendent Ted Watson said school officials are watching the weather and will dismiss early if necessary.

Watson said he has been in contact with local EMA and is talking with the other superintendents, as well.

“We will continue to monitor conditions with local EMA,” Covington County Schools Superintendent Shannon Driver said. “As of now we are planning on a regular day but we will make necessary changes if it becomes necessary.”

Opp City Schools Superintendent Michael Smithart said they are in constant contact with EMA officials.

“Our sole focus in these types of events is student safety,” he said. “We require a window of two hours to dismiss and transport our students home in a safe manner. If it seems that we may not be able to secure the time needed, we may be required to alter our dismissal times. Please remember that we have very specific procedures and protocols in place for severe weather conditions. Our bus drivers are trained as to how to how respond during a warning.

“In addition, it is our position that we will not release students during an active tornado warning,” Smithart said. “If we have a warning, our staff and students are located in the safest parts of our buildings and to have them moved exposes both the students and the respective teacher/staff to danger. Once warnings have expired, we return to our normal checkout procedures. If conditions to our west lead us to make a decision regarding any dismissal changes, we will us our automated calling system and local media to inform you.”