Rainfall heavy, but normal; cold on its way
by Daniel Gaddy
dgaddy@annistonstar.com
Jan 15, 2013 | 5424 views |  0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Fog is seen Tuesday among trees along Veterans Memorial Parkway in Anniston. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
Fog is seen Tuesday among trees along Veterans Memorial Parkway in Anniston. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
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Days of heavy rain and talk of snow have many in the state worried, but weather and emergency officials on Tuesday said they are not overly concerned.

Roger McNeil, hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Calera, said the heavy rain Alabama has experienced the last few days has been more than normal, but it is not uncommon for this time of year.

“In the winter time we normally have the stronger fronts,” McNeil said. “The stronger weather systems move through the area where you get more widespread, beneficial type rain.”

McNeil said the increased rain is vital for recharging the state’s waterways.

From the first of the month until Jan. 14, a gauge at the Anniston City Airport measured 3.14 inches of rain. That’s about an inch and half above normal for that time.

McNeil said Weather Service researchers also expect as much as an inch and a half of rain for the Anniston area between this morning and Thursday night.

On Tuesday, the Weather Service had issued flood advisories for several areas in west central Alabama including Pickens, Tuscaloosa and Walker counties. Some of the communities under the advisory received as much as 3 or 4 inches of rain on Tuesday, McNeil said.

Rather than typical flash flooding, these warnings, called areal flood advisories, concern the swelling of creeks and rivers, which are spilling over into roadways in many cases.

Jonathan Gaddy, director of the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency, said he does not expect the recent weather to cause significant problems for the area. State officials have not directed him to make any extra preparations.

Alabama Power spokeswoman Alyson Tucker said Tuesday the Coosa River basin experienced 3 inches of rain in the last 48 hours. Though she did not have averages for this time of year, she said that amount is substantial.

Tucker said company officials expect Weiss Lake to reach its summer pool levels, when the body of water typically hits its highest point. Though Logan Martin Lake is at higher than normal levels, she said it is not expected to reach its summer pool.

Tucker said Alabama Power officials are spilling water from Henry Dam all the way down through Jordan Dam. However, she said on Tuesday that there appears to no risk of flooding near the company’s dams along the Coosa River or in the areas downstream.

She said Alabama Power officials will issue a widespread press release if those conditions change.

According to the Weather Service, temperatures will likely drop below freezing Thursday.

Kevin Laws, a science and operations officer at the Weather Service, said he expects the rain to turn to snow Thursday afternoon for most of the Calhoun County area. However, he said it is unlikely that there will be much accumulation, save for areas of higher elevation, such as Mount Cheaha.

He said that less than a week ago, temperatures in much of Alabama were around 70 degrees, meaning the ground is not cold enough to allow snow to build up.

Laws said forecasters expect temperatures to drop lower still on Monday evening, with highs in the 30s and lows in the teens expected for Tuesday. But, Laws said, it is expected to be a dry front with no precipitation.

Assistant Metro Editor Daniel Gaddy: 256-235-3560. On Twitter @DGaddy_star.

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