County could see weekend flooding

Published 9:17 pm Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Severe weather is predicted across Alabama today, tomorrow and Saturday, but Pike County residents may not see the worst of it.

Residents should still prepare for tornadoes and flooding, with flooding being a major factor throughout the storms.

Kristina Sumrall, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Birmingham, said that strong winds and heavy rainfall are predicted to be the main threat for Pike County.

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“Late Thursday until early Friday we expect to see some severe storms and possible tornadoes with damaging winds and large hail,” Sumrall said. “Then, from Friday afternoon until Saturday, mid-day, we are expecting heavy rainfall with three to five inches of rain, with the possibility of more, even up to around six inches of rain for some areas.”

Sumrall said that rural flooding was a possibility over the next few days.

“We are watching out for rural flooding and flooding of low lying areas and any poor drainage areas. We are anticipating having to issue a flash flood warning for the Pike County area on Friday,” Sumrall said. “Flooding is a huge concern right now for the area, and we want people to be sure to follow the ‘turn around, don’t drown’ motto. Don’t try to drive through flooded areas, for your own safety.”

Sumrall said that there will be three separate storms throughout the next few days, but they will be very close together.

“We are going to have about three opportunities for severe weather over the next few days. What we are looking at through Saturday is a series of surface lows that are going to move across the area,” Sumrall said. “These are three separate storm systems, but they are very close together.”

Sumrall said that residents of Pike County should purchase a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio.

“We recommend purchasing a NOAA weather radio, they are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased for under $20 at Wal-Mart or Radio Shack. As soon as the National Weather Service issues a warning for the Pike County area, then an alarm will go off and let people know what kind of severe weather is headed their way.”

It is important for families to have a safety plan in case of severe weather.

“We have the information and the technology now to know when severe weather is coming, and people really need to focus on their safety plans now,” Sumrall said. “It’s important that they pay attention to the weather channel and any alerts that are issues, and that they have a plan in case of an emergency.”

Larry Davis, Pike County EMA director, cautioned families about weekend weather and encouraged residents to have a safe place to go during severe weather. “It’s predicted that Friday afternoon through Saturday morning are our best chances for severe weather, and it’s essential that families have a safe place to go in case of a tornado or flooding,” Davis said. “You have to plan in advance what you are going to do and where you are going to go. Should you be in a mobile home, you should have another place to go to when the weather gets rough.”

Davis said that it is important to get out of a mobile home if a tornado strikes. “If a tornado hits and you are inside a mobile home, you should get out of it and get into a low lying area, such as a ditch,” Davis said. “Having a plan for yours and your family’s safety is an essential part of being prepared for severe weather.”