Cullman County Commission declares state of emergency due to weather

The National Weather Service Huntsville Office issued an Ice Storm Warning and Winter Storm Warning effective until 6 a.m. Tuesday for much of Nnorth Alabama, including Cullman County. (Graphic courtesy of NWS Huntsville)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman County Commission, in a special called meeting on Monday morning, declared a state of emergency due to the winter storm, effective immediately. The County’s declaration comes on the heels of Gov. Kay Ivey’s declaration Sunday, which placed 28 counties, including Cullman, in a state of emergency.

Cullman County EMA Director Phyllis Little presented, and the commission approved this declaration:

Whereas, in accordance with State law, which empowers the Cullman County Commission to determine the existence or threatened existence of a local emergency when said County is affected or likely to be affected by public calamity, and

Whereas, the Cullman County Commission has been requested by the Coordinator/Director of the Emergency Management Agency of Cullman County to determine the existence of a local emergency therein due to the imminent threat of damage to the local infrastructure by severe storm, tornado damage, flooding or other causes, and

Whereas, said County Commission does hereby find:

That conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property have arisen within said County, caused by severe storm, tornado damage, flooding, or other causes, commencing on or about 3:00 p.m. on the 13th day of February 2021; and

That the aforesaid conditions of extreme peril warrant and necessitate the determination of the existence of a local emergency:

Now, therefore, it is hereby resolved that a local emergency now exists throughout said County, and emergency assistance is requested and major disaster assistance is requested; and

It is further proclaimed and ordered during the existence of said local emergency the powers, functions, and duties of coordinator of the Emergency Management Agency and the emergency organization of this County shall be those prescribed by State law, by charter, ordinances, and resolutions of the Cullman County Commission on February 15, 2021.

No time frame was given for the conclusion of the commission’s declaration.

After the meeting, Little told The Tribune, “We don’t know, yet; it’s all going to depend on the weather and local conditions. Low tonight is like 11 or 12 degrees, so if it’s wet, it’s going to refreeze. Plus, we’re still looking at another round of precipitation. So, temperatures (are) not looking to get above freezing before Wednesday

“Everything’s going to hinge on what we have this afternoon and tonight, and how road conditions and all are. And then they, the commission, will reassess, as far as any other things that need to be done, like if they need to delay opening the county offices or anything like that.”

Little also said that the County will post notices on social media, and will notify county department heads of instructions for County employees.

Little concluded, saying that “Winter weather is notoriously hard to model and to forecast, especially in the South. It’s pretty much a wait and see what we get tonight, and how road conditions and things are in the morning, as to what we will do further.”

Around 4 a.m. Monday morning, the National Weather Service in Huntsville office issued this statement:

An Ice Storm Warning is in effect now until 6 a.m. Tuesday for northwest Alabama and north-central Alabama for ice accumulations up to 0.50″ and sleet/snow totals up to 1″. A Winter Storm Warning is also in effect Now until 6 a.m. Tuesday for northeast Alabama and southern-middle Tennessee as ice accumulations could reach up to 0.25″ and sleet/snow totals up to 1″. Power outages due to ice covered trees and power lines are likely, and hazardous travel is expected. If you don’t have to go out, please stay home! 

Freezing rain will continue to affect northwest and north central Alabama and become heavier and more widespread throughout the day. Significant ice accumulations are expected, with light snow and sleet accumulations also possible, especially for far northwest portions of Alabama. This will create widespread hazardous travel conditions and result in some power outages and tree damage.

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W.C. Mann