The National Weather Service office in Calera said rain and sleet could turn to snow Wednesday afternoon, with the cities of Anniston and Oxford seeing an inch of accumulation before the night is over. Northern portions of the county could see as much as 2 or 3 inches.
“Calhoun County is kind of the battleground in terms of rain and ice and sleet,” said Kevin Laws, a meteorologist with the Weather Service. “Wednesday morning might not be that bad, but you should start to see that winter mix around morning commute time.”
Accordingly, local school officials said Tuesday their institutions would be closed Wednesday and a representative for Calhoun County government said the courthouse and the county administration building would not open.
Laws said rain was expected to start falling Tuesday night before turning into freezing rain early Wednesday, coating surfaces in ice up to one-tenth of an inch. The rain could turn to snow by the afternoon, Laws said.
Alyson Tucker, a spokeswoman with Alabama Power, said the company hopes the county will see more snow than ice. Crews from farther south in the state have been stationed in Anniston, Heflin and Gadsden in preparation for outages throughout northeast Alabama Wednesday.
“As we learned last time, it’s kind of a guessing game,” Tucker said on where crews have been located. “But we have them available and spread out and ready to help out.”
City and county workers will be ahead of the game as the Calhoun County Highway Department and Anniston Public Works geared up Monday for the snow and ice that never came on Tuesday. Officials said they have plenty of sand and salt ready to go and have set up vehicles in strategic locations including Piedmont, McClellan and Henry Road in Anniston, near one of the most hazardous intersections in the city during the last bout of winter weather two weeks ago.
Jonathan Gaddy, director of Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency, said the agency is also prepared to help out and is watching the weather closely. Gaddy said depending on how much ice the county sees Wednesday morning, power outages could be problematic as colder weather sets in.
“The important takeaway for residents is to be prepared,” Gaddy said. “Make sure to take care of yourself and your family.”
The forecast on Tuesday said Anniston could see temperatures in the mid-40s by Thursday, but Laws said that will depend on how much snow the area gets Wednesday.
“If you have a lot of snow, it’s not going to get that warm,” Laws said. “We’re going to have to see how much we get before we know how much of it will melt.”
Staff Writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.