Jan. 11 weather

The National Weather Service is predicting severe storms in Central Alabama Saturday. The storms could produce straight-line winds of up to 70 mph and tornadoes. 

There are many unknowns about the upcoming weekend weather in Lee County but meteorologists say they know one thing for sure: Severe weather is on the way.

The National Weather Service is calling for severe thunderstorms throughout the day Saturday that could bring damaging straight line winds and tornadoes.

“A lot of ingredients are coming into play with this and a lot of things are in really good agreement on a lot of the weather data that we’ve looked at to make our weather forecast,” said Gary Goggins, meteorologist for the National Weather Service Birmingham. “They are in good agreement that we will see a lot of ingredients for severe thunderstorms.”

Central Alabama, which includes Lee County, is in a risk area for severe storms and tornadoes from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. Saturday. When the storms will arrive to the area, however, is still not clear.

“We still have some details to work out,” Goggins said. “It may be toward the afternoon or early evening until you really start getting the severe threat.”

Prepare nowAlthough all of the details about Saturday’s weather are not clear, Goggins says it is important to be prepared for severe weather now.

“Make sure you have a plan to know where to go in case a warning is issued,” he said. “Be prepared to do what you need to do to take action, to keep your family safe and your property safe if a warning is issued.”

Goggins suggests going to a stable structure; however, if that is not an option, going to the most interior room on the lowest floor to help stay protected from any severe weather.

The Lee County Emergency Management Agency will be posting safe-location information on its Facebook page as Saturday nears, spokeswoman Rita Smith said. She added that the agency is willing to assist residents with setting up weather notification systems.

“If they need us to program their weather radio, we are there 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.,” Smith said. “If they want to know how to download an app for indoor weather notification ... come by and see us. We’ll do that for them.

“Anything that we can do to give them confidence that they’re prepared, that they’ve planned, they’ve thought this thing out.” Staying weather-aware Saturday and informing others about the severe weather is also important in case a warning, such as a tornado warning, is issued, Goggins said.

Not uncommonAlthough the peak tornado season in Central Alabama is from March until May, it is not uncommon to have tornadoes at other times of the year, he said.

“It’s not unusual to have tornadoes in January,” Goggins said.

There were five tornadoes throughout the state in January 2019. Four of the five occurred Jan. 19, according to weather records.

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