Storms expected in eastern Alabama later today could bring damaging winds, hail, local flooding and tornadoes.
The National Weather Service in Birmingham says storms moving in from the west have produced hail and tornadoes in Mississippi and Western Alabama.
“All of that will move into the Anniston area later this afternoon,” said Jessica Talley, a meteorologist with the weather service in Birmingham.
A hazardous weather outlook statement issued by the weather service this morning said severe weather is possible in the region through about 3 a.m. Saturday.
The storms may be somewhat scattered, Talley said, as what had been a clearly defined line is breaking up into more widely spaced storms.
Intense rainfall and flooding may be a concern in some areas, Talley said, with the potential for up to three inches of precipitation in a very short period of time.
At the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency, officials are calling in extra help from local HAM radio operators and the Calhoun County Civil Defense Emergency Group. The radio volunteers will help with communication needs while the civil defense group will help with storm spotting and damage reports, according to Marissa Brimer, an EMA spokeswoman.
The EMA also is sending a mobile communication facility to Talladega County, where thousands of fans are arriving for the weekend’s NASCAR events at the Talladega Superspeedway, Brimer said.
Calhoun County Schools officials are watching the weather as well, according to Mike Fincher, the school system’s safety and security director. Fincher said he believes the worst of the weather will come late enough in the day that schools will be able to send students home normally.
“I think we can get the kids home safe,” Fincher said.
The Donoho School, meanwhile, announced this afternoon that it would close at 1:30 p.m.
Brimer said residents should plan ahead to be able to get the latest weather information wherever they are this afternoon and tonight. In addition to weather radios and local media outlets, Brimer noted that resident can sign up to receive alerts from the EMA via a free phone text messaging system at http://www.nixle.com. The service is free, she said, except for any charges for text messages charged by residents’ phone service providers.
“We’re wanting people at about 2 p.m. to really be focusing on the weather,” Brimer said.