According to the National Weather Service, a cold front is expected to hit the area tonight after 9 p.m. Temperatures are not expected to rise out of the 20s until Wednesday afternoon.
The weather service has issued several warnings and advisories in connection with the coming cold, including a hard-freeze warning, winter weather advisory and wind chill advisory.
Jessica Chase, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Calera, said this afternoon that the overall forecast has not changed much since Saturday, when forecasters said that the area should expect a low of 6 degrees on Tuesday and that wind chills are expected to be below zero on both Monday and Tuesday.
“There will be a chance of rain and freezing rain, and after 9 p.m. is when the temperatures will transition to below freezing,” Chase said.
Chase said today that there is a possibility of snow after midnight, which could lead to some light accumulation for the area.
Anniston could receive up to a quarter-inch of snow, while neighboring Etowah and Cleburne counties could receive up to half an inch, Chase said Saturday.
Burst pipes and heating plights
Ted Whitten, the owner of Ted’s Plumbing in Anniston, said Sunday afternoon that he hasn’t had any calls to fix broken pipes yet, but expects some soon.
“Over the next few days people’s pipes will be freezing and then they’ll be calling us when they thaw and realize they’re busted,” he said.
Whitten said the last time the area experienced a cold spell as bad as the one predicted to hit tonight, he had five crews working full-time to repair around 60 to 70 burst pipes. That was around 10 to 15 years ago, he said.
Whitten offered a few precautions people can take to keep their pipes from freezing. He said anything exposed should be wrapped and insulated and hoses should be disconnected.
Whitten also suggested that people leave the heat on in their homes and leave a trickle of water from faucets. A continuous flow of water will be harder to freeze than still water, he said.
How to prepare
Jonathan W. Gaddy, director of the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency, said there are four things Calhoun County residents should be concerned with during the upcoming cold spell: plants, pipes, people and pets.
Gaddy said today that his agency does not expect any power outages and hopes the weather will have no impact on transportation.
Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson said patrol deputies will be on the lookout for stranded motorists. Amerson also said people should plan ahead for power outages.
Anniston assistant Fire Chief Joel Roberts and Gaddy both offered suggestions for those worried about heating their homes.
Roberts said when the weather gets cold people have a tendency to plug too many things into electrical outlets, put space heaters too close to bedding and use their ovens for heat.
“Anytime it gets cold people get careless sometimes,” Roberts said.
People who have a hard time heating their homes should concentrate on heating one area and use power outlets in areas that can be monitored, Gaddy said. Those who cannot find appropriate heating methods should go to heating stations like the one at the Salvation Army on Noble Street, Roberts said.
Capt. Bert Lind of the Salvation Army told The Star on Friday that anyone who needs a place to wait out the cold is welcome at the shelter. Lind said that coffee, snacks and a television will be provided and the group will also offer overnight stays, free of charge.
Calhoun County Circuit Clerk Eli Henderson said on Sunday that county and courthouse offices would delay opening until 10 a.m. Monday and Tuesday. He said residents expected for jury duty at the courthouse Monday need not show up until 10 a.m.
Several area schools announced last week that they will delay the start of classes this week to avoid problems with early-morning cold. Gadsden State Community College announced that it would delay opening by two hours on Monday and Tuesday, and Faith Christian School announced it would delay classes by two hours on Monday.
Other schools planning two-hour delays Monday through Wednesday include Anniston, Calhoun County, Cleburne County, Jacksonville, Oxford and Piedmont public schools, the Donoho School and Sacred Heart Catholic School in Anniston.
Staff writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @MCzebiniak_Star.