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Gusty winds, rain Tuesday could cause power outages

In World
January 09, 2024

Jan. 9—Gusty winds and some rain are expected to continue Tuesday in the Decatur area, potentially causing branches to break off or trees to fall with resulting power outages, according to a meteorologist, with a wind advisory continuing throughout the day.

The winds will “probably trim back to 25 to 35 or so miles per hour,” said Andy Kula, meteorologist with the National Weather Service of Huntsville. “Sustained winds will probably be 15 to 25 (mph).”

The forecast for Monday night suggested downed power lines were more likely then than Tuesday, Kula said.

“But I’m not going to rule it out,” he said. “If we get weakened limbs from (Monday) night’s winds, it won’t take much to knock some of them down (Tuesday) with a little more wind. We’ll also have the rain that falls (Monday night) and sometimes that will lead to heavier branches that would fall easier as well.”

Decatur Utilities spokesman Joe Holmes said there are several factors that could cause power outages during a severe windstorm.

“If you’ve got rain and high winds, certainly you have a chance of some trees that are weakened coming down,” he said. “The more likely thing is limbs blowing and also phases of power lines blowing together; that can cause them to arc.”

Joe Wheeler EMC spokesman Michael Cornelison said people should take precautions around downed power lines.

“Don’t approach any downed lines. Don’t try to cut trees or anything like that off of them,” he said.

Holmes said DU increases staffing for inclement weather.

“Any time we have any threat of high windstorms, snow or ice, we stay on a heightened state of alert,” he said. “We have additional crews; if we need to call in, we can do that.”

Cornelison said Joe Wheeler also takes steps when there is a chance of inclement weather.

“What we do is send our trucks home with our line crews because our line crews live all over our service area,” he said. “That kind of puts them closer. They don’t have to come in here first, so it kind of speeds things along. We have our dispatch here, they watch the weather, watch for any outages.”

Kula said winds and wind gusts will be strong enough Tuesday that outside items should be secured.

“Any loose objects outside could be blown around,” he said. “Trash cans and other objects like that need to be put away or at least secured.”

Motorists need to use caution, Kula said.

“(Tuesday) winds are going to shift to the west, so north-south roads will probably be mostly affected,” he said. “That’s when the hazardous travel can set in when you have crosswinds that strong.”

Kula said the Decatur area will see rain on and off Tuesday.

“The steady rains will be mainly (Monday night) and then letting up sometime (Tuesday) morning early. I can’t say exactly, but probably like 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.,” he said. “We should have a break in the rain and then we might get a few more showers late (Tuesday) afternoon, early evening, but those will be very light.”

The combined rainfall total for Monday and Tuesday in Decatur was expected to be between 1 1/2 and 3 inches, Kula said, but only about a quarter of an inch of that will fall Tuesday.

“We’re not expecting severe thunderstorms here. … No severe weather. That’s all down near the Gulf Coast,” he said. “There is a risk of severe weather (Monday night) down there and into (Tuesday) along the Gulf Coast areas. They have a pretty good risk of severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and maybe even tornadoes.”

There is a small chance of a few snow flurries Tuesday evening, Kula said.

“No accumulation, no problems; it may just mix in.” he said. “It might just stay rain, but there might be a few flakes mixing in.”

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency cautioned people to drive carefully in the wind and rain.

“If driving, make sure to buckle up, avoid following too close, and avoid actions such as slamming on brakes or using cruise control,” ALEA said in a statement. “When hydroplaning, slamming on brakes can lock your wheels and cause you to lose control. Cruise control can also be hazardous and can cause you to lose control in wet conditions.”

The release said after the storm make sure roadways are safe before you drive.

“While precipitation may have stopped, roads can remain dangerous to drive on for days afterward,” the release said.

The Alabama Department of Transportation said it would deploy crews after the expected storms to assess damage, clear debris and make any necessary repairs.

Kula said the high temperature predicted for Tuesday is 57 degrees and the low Tuesday night is 32. The highs predicted for Wednesday are in the mid 40s with lows in the low 30s, with the high temperature increasing to the mid to upper 50s Thursday. Friday’s temperatures are expected to be warmer, with highs in the upper 50s with lows in the low 40s.

“Friday, we do have a pretty good threat of some more showers and thunderstorms with some heavier downpours possible,” Kula said. “Thursday night into Friday.”

[email protected] or 256-340-2460.

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