Schools cancel classes as freezing conditions hit Tuscaloosa area; low temps continue Tuesday

Jason Morton
The Tuscaloosa News

As a late winter storm firmly squeezes north and central Alabama in an icy grip, residents are being urged to plan for the worst.

Stay home, if possible, and avoid roadways, officials urge, as freezing conditions ripe for frozen roadways stand to make traveling hazardous over the next couple of days.

“Folks need to exercise extra precaution,” Daniel Martin, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Birmingham, said Monday, “especially if they’re on the roadways.”

By Monday morning, much of the sleet and freezing rain had remained to Alabama’s west, primarily in Mississippi, though northern parts of the Yellowhammer State were seeing icy conditions as temperatures there remained below freezing.

This, in part, has prompted the Alabama Department of Transportation and the Alabama Emergency Management Agency to warn motorists that icy road conditions are now – or will be – possible across much of the state as widespread freezing is expected to extend into Tuesday.

“In addition, freezing fog and drizzle may pose a freezing hazard on roadways in west-central and north Alabama tonight,” ALDOT officials said. “Motorists in these areas are encouraged to avoid unnecessary travel.”

A cold, wind-driven rain falls in Tuscaloosa as a pedestrian and motorist moving along University Blvd. Monday, Feb. 15, 2021. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

Tuesday may pose the greatest threat, as low temperatures begin falling sharply after dark on Monday and are predicted to reach the mid- to lower-teens by Tuesday morning.

This, Martin said, could freeze any lingering precipitation that falls during the day on Monday, making travel especially dangerous for workers Tuesday morning.

“Just make sure to take it extra slow tomorrow morning,” he said Monday.

Business and school closures

In anticipation of the wintry weather, Tuscaloosa city and county schools canceled all classes Monday and Tuesday, along with Shelton State Community College. The University of Alabama also canceled Monday and Tuesday classes.

Park and recreation officials also announced their facilities, like the city and county public schools, would remain closed for the rest of Monday with a delayed opening planned for 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

Becky Booker, spokeswoman for the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority, said the organization's website,, will have the most up-to-date information.

Warming shelters open

In Tuscaloosa County, which remains under a winter storm advisory, Tuscaloosa city officials are working with the Tuscaloosa County Emergency Management Agency and the Compassion Coalition on opening warming stations and shelters.

Knights of Columbus Hall, located at 733 James I. Harrison Jr. Pkwy. E., was announced Monday as one such warming station, opening at 1 p.m. Face coverings will be required for entry, city officials said, and Tuscaloosa police will provide masks to anyone needing shelter who does not have one.

This was soon followed by an announcement that Skyland Baptist Church at 3320 Skyland Blvd. E. and Forest Lake United Methodist Church at 1711 Fourth Ave. also would open as warming stations for Tuscaloosa County residents starting at 3 p.m.

These sites, too, required anyone entering to have a face covering.

For more information, on this or other potential warming stations, residents were urged to call the Tuscaloosa County EMA at 205-349-0150 or the Tuscaloosa Police Department at 205-349-2121.

Power outages

Late morning winds resulted in power outages for approximately 1,800 customers, according to an update from the Tuscaloosa County EMA.

Citing data from Alabama power, EMA officials said cold weather and the high winds contributed to the electricity loss, with the majority of those affected living within the Cottondale, Northport and Coker areas.

Tuscaloosa-area power outages:A look at power outages in the Tuscaloosa area after a storm moved through

Frigid conditions in Montgomery

The winter storm also will bring frigid conditions to the Montgomery area, with overnight lows Monday around 20 degrees.

It will be the coldest air to hit the region since Jan. 18, 2018, when the low in Montgomery dipped to 10 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

While Tuesday is expected to be clear, bitter conditions will remain in Montgomery. It will "warm up," to the mid-30s Tuesday, Martin said, before falling again to the mid-20s Tuesday night.

The average high for Montgomery this time of year is 62 and the average low is 39.

The city of Montgomery has opened a warming center at the Montgomery Therapeutic Recreation Center at 604 Augusta Ave. for Monday and Tuesday. The warming center will open each day at 4 p.m.

Travel problems aren't expected for the River Region, said Ernie Baggett, director of the Autauga County EMA.

"It all depends on when the rain stops," he said. "We aren't expecting freezing rain like areas west and north of us. But any moisture left on the roadways is going to freeze when the temperatures drop Monday night.

"And of course ,bridges and overpasses will have to potential to ice up sooner and earlier. And drivers out early Tuesday morning need to be aware of the possibility of black ice on the roads."  

Likewise, the Tuscaloosa County EMA is warning of “Periods of freezing rain and  sleet, with potential for significant ice accumulations, wind chills around zero to a few degrees below zero (and) hard freeze conditions with lows ranging from the single digits to lower 20s.”

Garbage collection delayed

As deteriorating conditions prompted Tuscaloosa County and Tuscaloosa City school officials to cancel classes for a second consecutive day on Tuesday, city officials declared no garbage would be collected on Tuesday, either.

"Due to potentially hazardous driving conditions and forecasted dangerous temperatures for Tuesday, the city of Tuscaloosa has delayed garbage and recycling routes by one day," City Hall said in an announcement late Monday.

This means that:

• Tuesday routes will be collected on Wednesday,

• Wednesday routes will be collected on Thursday, and

• Thursday routes will be collected on Friday.

Trash – yard waste and large debris – will not be collected at all on Tuesday, city officials said. Rather, trash crews will resume with Tuesday routes on Wednesday.

Road conditions deteriorate 

The Alabama Department of Transportation by noon had declared U.S. Highway 82 from the Tuscaloosa County line to the state of Mississippi as impassible for motorists.

The agency then followed this by declaring all state routes in Pickens County as impassible while urging caution in Marion County.

"Please do not drive unless it is absolutely necessary if you live in Marion County," ALDOT said via Twitter. "Roads are becoming dangerous."

ALDOT crews in the affected areas will be on duty or mobilized as needed to treat ice on roadways, which is commonly referred to as “black ice,” as will authorities with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA).

Safety tips for icy road conditions

And for those who must get out during the worst of it, ALEA officials issued the following traffic safety tips:

• Do not use the vehicle’s cruise control. This creates issues and could cause drivers to lose control of a vehicle vehicle, especially when crossing frozen or iced over bridges.

• Report traffic crashes or other emergencies by calling 911 or using a cell phone to dial *HP (*47) to reach the nearest Highway Patrol post.

• Remain alert for emergency vehicles and remember to obey Alabama’s “move over” law.

• Keep vehicles in good operating condition. Check antifreeze levels use windshield washer solution suitable for freezing weather conditions and keep gas tanks at least half full.

• Remember weather and roadway conditions can deteriorate quickly. Be prepared to adapt speeds to existing roadway conditions and be alerted to changing weather and the possibility of icy and slippery roads.

• During inclement weather, turn on headlights and windshield wipers, and maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and other vehicles.

• Pay attention to bridges and overpasses, which tend to develop hazardous “black ice.”

• Keep a blanket, first aid kit, charged cell phone and other emergency supplies in the vehicle

 • Unlike tornadoes or thunderstorms that can pop up in a matter of minutes, winter storms usually provide ample time to prepare. Stay connected with their local news organizations as well as ALEA’s social media pages for updates on weather and road conditions, and check road conditions at

Alabama weather radar

Marty Roney, a reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser, contributed to this report.

Reach Jason Morton at