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UPDATED: Area schools will dismiss early Wednesday due to threat of severe weather

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Forecast map 3-16

Due to the threat of severe weather, the following schools will be dismissing early on Wednesday:

— Calhoun County Schools will dismiss at noon Wednesday and have a remote E-learning day Thursday.

—  Anniston City Schools will dismiss at noon Wednesday and have a remote learning day Thursday.

— Jacksonville High School will dismiss at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, and Kitty Stone Elementary will dismiss at noon Wednesday. Students will work remotely from home on Thursday.

— Oxford City schools will dismiss at noon Wednesday and have a remote E-learning day Thursday.

 — Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School in Anniston will dismiss at 11 a.m. Wednesday and have a remote learning day Thursday.

— Jacksonville Christian Academy will dismiss at noon Wednesday and delay the state of school for two hours Thursday. 

— Faith Christian School will dismiss at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

— The Donoho School will dismiss its lower school students at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday and its upper school students at noon Wednesday. All afternoon activities are canceled.

The National Weather Service is warning of severe weather for Wednesday across most of central Alabama. Forecasters are now warning of a "moderate" risk of severe storms -- a level 4 out of 5. 

“We’re looking at a likely severe weather event for much of the Southeast,” said Tara Goggins, a forecaster for the National Weather Service in Calera.

Goggins said conditions appear favorable for strong, long-track tornadoes, damaging straight-line winds up to 80mph, and hail up to the size of golf balls.

In a Facebook press conference Tuesday, weather service forecasters said Alabama could expect an initial wave of storms arriving some time after 2 p.m. Wednesday, with possible hail and tornadoes. A bigger threat comes later, when a line of strong thunderstorms is expected to cross the state sometime Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.  

Strong storms are also in the forecast for Tuesday with heavy rainfall, with potential for flooding in low-lying areas. A few storms could become severe, with damaging straight-line winds, large hail and perhaps a brief tornado.

Because of the possibility of storms arriving at night, Goggins said, people should avoid turning off the ringers on their phones or turning on “do not disturb” functions at bedtime Wednesday. She said it’s best to have multiple ways of receiving weather alerts, including a weather radio. 

It’s also a good idea to keep cell phones fully charged, she said. 

She said people should figure out, today, how they will get to shelter if there’s a tornado warning. 

“If you live in a mobile home or a manufactured home, you need to be making plans for where you’ll go when the time comes,” she said. “People need to have their plans finalized by the end of the day today.”

Capitol & statewide reporter Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.