North Alabama remains iced over as wind chill drops

The frigid storm of 2024 moved into a third day Wednesday with projected wind chills below zero for north Alabama.

The extreme cold meant another day of slick roads, schools closed, college campuses closed except for virtual instruction, and most government offices remaining shut down except for first responders.

Seth Burkett, spokesman for the Alabama Department of Transportation, said the sun on Tuesday helped state highways improve slightly as the temperatures warmed into the 20s after Monday night’s low of 13 degrees with a wind chill of minus 5 degrees.

“Any of that moisture, if it doesn’t get dried by the wind, is going to stay on the pavement and freeze into black ice (Tuesday night),” Burkett said.

Local law enforcement and first responders have stated they have seen several minor accidents due to the slick roads. The city of Madison was urging people to stay off the roadways this morning. The latest plea coming at 10:30 a.m. “Do not drive. Roadways are not passable. Stay off roads. Hwy 72 And Wall Triana is a danger zone as well,” the alert stated.

Meteorologist Kirk Weber, of the National Weather Service’s Huntsville office, said temperatures are expected to rise Wednesday into the upper 20s and possibly go above freezing “for an hour or two. This might help evaporation a little on exposed pavement, but then it will get cold again when the sun goes down.”

Spokesman Scott Fiedler said the Tennessee Valley Authority’s electrical system “is operating normally,” and there are no plans for rolling blackouts.

Wednesday morning’s preliminary peak power demand was 34,526 megawatts at a system average temperature of 4 degrees – setting an all-time TVA record. The previous record was 33,482 MW in Aug. 2007.
Extremely cold temperatures across the region continue to drive up the demand for electricity, but Fielder said the TVA electric grid is stable, and the generating facilities are performing well.

He suggested the public can help by delaying major electrical usage between 6 and 10 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.

“It would help if residents delay using large appliances like ovens, stoves, air fryers and clothes washers,” he said. “This will help ensure grid stability.”

Weber said temperatures will be very cold Wednesday night, but area residents will get a brief break Thursday with temperatures increasing into the 40s.

This warmer day for residents will be short-lived, with another cold front moving into the area Thursday night, he said.

“Unfortunately, we won’t get much of a break,” Weber said. “We’ll get some rain Thursday night that could turn into sleet after midnight.”

Weber said temperatures will return to the single digits Friday morning, and the cold will stick around for another 48 hours.

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Digital version of The Madison Record – Feb. 28, 2024

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