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Officials urge preparedness as Saturday storms appear likely across Alabama

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Forecasts today are still pointing to an “enhanced risk” of storms for all of Central Alabama on Saturday, according to meteorologist Daniel Martin.

For days, forecasts have pointed to possible tornadic activity, and Martin, who works in the National Weather Service office in Calera, said Friday afternoon that the threat remains likely as a line of storms moves toward the area from the southwest.

“The biggest threats will be in the south and west, but that can certainly extend to the eastern part of the state,” said Martin.

Martin said the most likely window of storms for eastern Alabama is between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., but residents should be prepared to see storms at the earlier end of that spectrum. The biggest threat would last about 30 minutes to an hour as the storm line moves through, Martin said, but that winds throughout the day are worthy of attention. The weather service has issued a wind advisory that begins at midnight and runs through 9 p.m. Saturday, with mention of wind gusts up to 40 mph.

“They’re not necessarily associated with the storms, but we’ll see gusts of wind all day,” Martin said. Winds could even get strong enough to knock down trees or powerlines, according to Martin.

“We may have some isolated power outages before the storm even gets here,” he said.

That’s why people should have more than one method of receiving storm information, said Myles Chamblee, an officer with the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency. Smartphone apps, television and standard and weather radios are all good sources to have on hand, Chamblee said. 

“And keep extra batteries too,” he said. “We always encourage people to keep an eye on the weather throughout the day, not just when the storm is close.”

Martin said knowing how to interpret weather lingo can be important too.

“When we issue a tornado watch, that’s just a heads-up saying that the weather could produce a tornado,” Martin said. “There’s not necessarily one on the ground yet.”

Martin encouraged people to go ahead and seek a safe place, preferably a interior room with few windows, when a watch is issued. A tornado warning is issued when one touches down, but Martin said that waiting for a warning can be too late.

“The important thing is to not panic,” Martin said.

“Be prepared now by knowing where your safe place is going to be,” Chamblee said. 

Chamblee said mobile phone users can sign up for text updates from the EMA by texting CalhounEMA to 888777.

Contact Staff Writer Daniel Mayes at 256-235-3561 or danielmayesstar@gmail.com. On Twitter @DMayes_Star.

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