'We're not out of the woods by a long shot'

Jan. 16—In official terms, no Cullman County road is "closed" owing to this week's persisting onslaught of icy precipitation and sub-freezing temperatures. But until the mercury rises and the region-wide sheet of asphalt-glazing ice finally melts, they definitely aren't places where you want to be.

The Cullman County Emergency Agency on Tuesday emphatically reiterated its countywide description of all local roads as "impassable" throughout the day Wednesday, advising all residents to avoid travel if possible.

"We're not out of the woods by a long shot," said EMA director Tim Sartin, noting that even major thoroughfares such as Interstate 65 and Alabama Highway 157 remain "very treacherous" travel zones amid daytime temperatures that never climbed out of the teens on Tuesday. Sartin noted one tractor trailer accident Tuesday along I-65, continuing a string of weather-related mishaps including a multi-vehicle crash that snarled interstate traffic on Monday afternoon that left all lanes closed for hours.

Though no additional moisture is expected until Thursday — a potential round of either rain or wintry precipitation that Sartin said could bring additional hazards depending on the temperature — Cullman County and the rest of north Alabama remain locked in the grip of a hard freeze; one whose dangerous effects could still be felt Wednesday night as the thermometer again plunges back into the teens.

Cullman city and county schools were closed Tuesday and Wednesday due to inclement weather, while Wallace State's campuses students, faculty and staff implemented remote/virtual learning days. All county offices also remain closed Wednesday. Thankfully, the wintry mix of sleet and light snow that blanketed the area late Monday didn't cause mass electrical outages across the area, though a significant Tuesday outage affecting residents between Fairview and Baileyton in east Cullman County contributed the bulk of the weather event's outage peak of 1,180 Cullman Electric Cooperative members without power.

EMA has continued to update residents on current travel conditions and the availability of county services via its Facebook page, which residents are advised to monitor for the latest weather-related information. Temperatures are expected briefly to warm as high as 40 degrees on Thursday, even as a round of precipitation approaches the area with Thursday temperatures descending into the mid-20s.

For the latest weather information, including road closings and warming center schedules, go online to cullmantimes.com or follow The Times on Facebook.

Benjamin Bullard can be reached by phone at 256-734-2131 ext. 234.