Alexander City could see severe weather Saturday and officials are stressing the importance of preparation.
An enhanced risk for tornadoes and damaging winds up to 70 mph between noon to 6 p.m. and 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday was issued as of Thursday afternoon for Alexander City by the National Weather Service Birmingham.
While the threat starts at 10 a.m. in the western part of the state, National Weather Service Birmingham meteorologist Gary Goggins said the weather threat will begin around the afternoon in the Alex City area.
“We got a lot of instability and moisture coming in from the South and the Gulf of Mexico,” Goggins said. “That’s the fuel for thunderstorms to develop over our area. This is probably the highest severe weather threat we’ve had in quite some time in central Alabama.”
Goggins and Tallapoosa County Emergency Management director Jason Moran advise creating a storm plan.
Residents should have multiple ways to receive weather alerts, such as getting a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration radio and receiving Tallapoosa ALERT.
Tallapoosa ALERT messages residents through emails, texts and phone calls instead of tornado sirens. It is free and available to download at www.tallaco.com under the “Departments” tab, which lists EMA. Residents can get assistance signing up for it by calling EMA at 256-845-1075.
“The reason people should sign up for these alerts is because they’re accurate down to the fact it uses a polygon base system to warn you,” Moran said. “(This means) you receive notifications by your address. (It’s) not countywide.”
Goggins said residents should take the threat seriously and inform others.
“Let (others) know the potential exists,” Goggins said. “Sharing the word with others is important as well.”
Storm kits should contain any needed prescriptions, first aid supplies, water, food, flashlights with extra batteries and a whistle to use in case of getting trapped in a shelter, according to Moran.
“The main thing is to be able to receive the alert and go to a safe place if we should go under a warning,” Moran said.
Residents should seek shelter at the lowest level and center of a structure. Those living in upstairs apartments should agree to meet with their downstairs neighbors and those who live in trailers should go to a sturdy place.
“Put as many walls between you and the outside world as you can,” Moran said.
Residents should put helmets on and infants and small children in car seats for extra protection.
“If you should lose your grip on the child they will still be in the car seat similar to them being involved in a car accident,” Moran said.
A tornado watch means there’s a lookout for tornadoes but a warning means it has already started.
“It’s either been identified on the radar or it’s been visibly verified by somebody (if a warning is issued),” Moran said.
The county expects 1 to 1.5 inches of rain Saturday and Moran advises drivers to never go through water crossing the roadway.
“In Alabama you always have to be on guard for severe weather unfortunately for any time of the year,” Goggins said.
The Tallapoosa County Courthouse in Dadeville will open as a safe place at noon Saturday. Daviston’s community safe room is open 24 hours a day. New Site’s fire station basement is open 24 hours and Alexander City City Hall will open at noon as a safe room, according to Moran.