Authorities are urging everyone to be extremely weather aware throughout the day on Wednesday, March 17, through the early hours of Thursday. Three separate storm tracks are expected with the possibility of flash flooding and tornadoes appearing without notice.
DeKalb County Homeland Security Emergency Management Agency Director Anthony Clifton told area officials in a conference call Tuesday afternoon that three weather tracks are expected between the following hours:
- 5-9 a.m. Wednesday morning
- 1-7 p.m. Wednesday afternoon/evening
- 9 p.m.-3 a.m. Wednesday night/Thursday morning
Clifton described the third round as likely the most dangerous because of potential super cells and intense tornadoes ahead of a warm front, plus the fact that it will arrive in the area during the overnight hours.
“Our recommendations are to be extremely weather aware,” Clifton said. “This is going to be a 24-hour event with the possibility of brief spin-up tornadoes. Just because your weather radio doesn’t go off, that doesn’t mean there’s not going to be a tornado. In the periods between these rounds, do not let your guard down because we may see damaging winds, hail and tornadoes. Conditions are more favorable for severe weather as the day progresses and the more unstable, volatile air masses add greater potential for long-track tornadoes. The National Weather Service in Huntsville has moderate confidence for strong tornadoes, which means tornadoes of EF3 or higher.”
An EF3 tornado is a measure of storm intensity on the Enhanced Fujita scale, representing winds of 136-165 mph, capable of potentially causing severe damage to houses, large buildings and tossing cars off the roadway.
Clifton also warned of possible localized flooding.
“We’ve already had three inches of rain last night and today,” he said. “We expect another two to four inches yet to come.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency Tuesday afternoon to ensure the state can act in any way needed.
DeKalb County and Fort Payne schools and Cornerstore Christian Academy have all announced closings in anticipation of the storms on Wednesday. DeKalb County government non-essential offices are closed tomorrow. Court will proceed in the DeKalb County Courthouse, but a deputy will be available to staff the storm shelter throughout the day.
Clifton recommended everyone have a plan and know a safe place to shelter. He advised the public to make sure weather radios have batteries and check smoke detectors.
To see the list of community storm shelters or community safer spaces in DeKalb County, visit http://www.dekalbcountyal.us/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Community-Storm-Shelters-in-DeKalb-County.pdf. Pets, weapons, drugs, tobacco, etc. are not allowed in these spaces.