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Freezing rain and sleet worsen road conditions in the Shoals

It's been sleeting in the Shoals since Sunday night. Freezing rain took over on Monday.

Posted: Feb 15, 2021 5:38 PM
Updated: Feb 15, 2021 6:36 PM

Roadways in Colbert and Franklin Counties are considered impassable and roads in Lauderdale County aren't in much better shape.

Traveling on any roadways in the Shoals Monday night will be dangerous and you could be putting your life in danger by doing so. There is a sheet of ice over these roads and only first responders need to be on the roads trying to help people tonight, according to emergency management officials.

Road crews are out salting and sanding slick spots, but no matter the amount of salt and sand, these roads are going to be dangerous, cold and covered with black ice.

Colbert County Emergency Management Director Michael David Smith said if you must be on the roads, you need to make sure you have blankets, water and some food items in case you get stuck, because they don't know how quickly they can get to you.

"If they get out there and have a wreck, they need to make sure they have stuff in the car to survive that for a while, because the roads are just as treacherous or even more treacherous for our response apparatus to be on and it's going to be a delay. Not only a delay because of the weather, but a delay because we might be working other things at the same time as well. So, if you decide to take that chance and get out there, you might be there awhile before some help can get to you," said Smith.

Besides roads being a concern, the other worries are mass power outages in the area. Officials in Colbert and Franklin Counties are more concerned with that because they've already seen some outages.

Over in Lauderdale County, Emergency Management Director George Grabryan said he's concerned with how cold it will get Monday night. The low is 10 degrees.

"I am worried about people using alternate sources of heat. Those are a subject of fires and things like that, and a lot of times in weather like this, it just takes that much longer to get responders out for medical calls or fires, and I worry about that and the safety of responders going out there," said Grabryan.

Grabryan said it's important for people to keep an eye on space heaters and make sure nothing is around them to spark a fire.

Smith said they might run into situations were state or local road crews will have to salt or sand a specific roadway so utility crews can get to an area and restore power, and that will take time.

In Colbert County, Leighton has opened its tornado shelter as a warming shelter if people need it. Smith said they have the option to open three other large tornado shelters in the county to be warming shelters, but that requires people getting on the roads. He said it was a tough call to make, but in the event of mass power outages, they will open those additional shelters.

Police in Florence and rescue squads along with police in Franklin County are driving nurses and other health care workers to and from work.

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