Alabama Power preparing to deal with storms’ impact

Alabama Power preparing to deal with storms’ impact
Alabama Power crews are prepared to restore any outages that could be caused by potentially strong storms expected on Saturday. (Mark Jerald / Alabama NewsCenter)

Alabama Power crews are preparing today for the possibility of a widespread storm system predicted to move through the state Saturday.

“Alabama Power is ready to respond to the storms that are expected to impact the state tomorrow,” said Alabama Power spokeswoman Katie Bolton. “We encourage all of our customers to stay weather aware and follow our company updates, and local emergency management authorities, so you and your family stay safe”

Alabama Power preparing for January 11 storms from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Strong winds and tornadoes could cause damage and down trees across the state. Downed trees can mean downed power lines. Alabama Power officials urged the public to treat all downed power lines as if they are still “alive” with electricity and to report any outages through the alabamapower.com website or by calling 800-888-2726.

In the event of an outage, visit alabamapower.com for more information and follow along on company social media channels for updates.

Alabama Power officials offered some tips that customers can do prior to the severe weather. They include:

  • Charge your smart devices now.
  • Purchase a battery-operated charger and keep it fully charged at all times.
  • Create a backup written list of numbers and prepare alternative ways to communicate in case the battery in your smart device dies before power is restored.
  • During the cold months, keep a supply of dry wood if you have a safe fireplace available.
  • Non-electric, unvented space heaters can be a hazard. Use them only in well-ventilated areas.
  • Trim back any branches that pose a threat to your home or property.
  • Ensure your carbon monoxide detectors are functioning with strong batteries.
  • Check your weather stripping to prevent loss of heat.

Should you lose power, report the outage and:

  • Leave a porch or front light on. This helps crews know when repair work is successful.
  • Leave one light on inside to tell you when service is restored.
  • Disconnect or turn off any appliances that will start automatically when power is restored. (If several appliances start at once, it may overload circuits. Hot appliances pose a fire hazard.)
  • Do not use generators indoors. Plug appliances directly into your generator. Do not plug your generator into your household’s electrical wiring.
  • Limit opening refrigerators and freezers to limit losing cold air.
  • Limit opening windows or doors to prevent losing internal heat from your home.
  • Follow Alabama Power social media channels for updates and information.

Meteorologist James Spann points to the potential for very strong winds and conditions for the formation of tornadoes as part of a long squall line that will pass through the state during the day Saturday. Spann said the storms could be in far west Alabama by 10 a.m. and move east through the state throughout the day.

“The line will be capable of producing widespread wind damage, and I would suggest going through your tornado safety action plan if you are in a severe thunderstorm warning,” Spann said in his Alabama NewsCenter forecast posted Friday morning. “Many trees will likely be blown down by this line of severe storms. The bottom line is to take severe thunderstorm warnings seriously Saturday.”

Spann said everyone should have a reliable way of receiving timely weather updates. Families should rehearse any severe weather plan to make them easier to carry out should the need arise.

“We walk a fine line with events like this; we have to spread the word and clearly outline the danger, but at the same time we don’t want to spread storm anxiety,” Spann said. “Just have a way of warnings and have a good plan, and we will get through the day together just fine. You can also help us by spreading the word; many Alabamians have no idea we have a severe weather threat Saturday. Let them know the day will be active, and they must be in a position to hear warnings.”

Spann said flooding is not a threat with this particular storm system. However, recent heavy rains throughout the state could make falling trees more likely in some areas.

The National Weather Service has predicted cumulative rain amounts of 3 to 4 inches across the state over the next several days, with the potential for higher amounts in some isolated areas.

The rains could result in higher than normal lake levels at Alabama Power’s Weiss, Neely Henry and Logan Martin lakes on the Coosa River, Harris and Martin lakes on the Tallapoosa River, and Smith Lake on the Black Warrior River. The rains also could lead to spill gates opening at some of Alabama Power’s hydroelectric dams.

During the winter and spring months, when rainfall is more frequent for our area, rain systems can cause changes to lake levels, sometimes very quickly. This also leads to spill gates at the dams opening more frequently. People in or near the water below Alabama Power dams and those with boats and water-related equipment and facilities on company lakes should always stay alert to changing conditions and be prepared to take the necessary steps to protect their property.

For more information about Alabama Power lakes, download the Smart Lakes app for your smartphone, or visit www.apcshorelines.com. Individuals can also call 1-800-LAKES 11 (1-800-525-3711) for lake condition updates.

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