Local school systems planned remote learning and closings today because of expected freezing rain beginning this morning and temperatures in the teens tonight.

Morgan, Lawrence and Limestone counties are under the National Weather Service's winter weather advisory that warns of potential slippery road conditions.

"We are forecasting up to 0.2 inches of freezing rain (today)," said Katie Magee, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Huntsville. "It's expected to fall from 4 a.m. (this) morning to 6 (tonight)."

Decatur, Hartselle, Athens, Morgan County and Lawrence County school systems will use various forms of remote instruction today to avoid travel hazards. Limestone County Schools will be closed today. Morgan County also plans to use remote learning Friday.

Yvette Evans, Decatur's deputy superintendent for instruction and personnel, said, "Remote learning will entail teachers sending home assignments for students to complete independently."

Public safety officials urged residents to be cautious of things like leaving their pets outside, the usage of space heaters, and traveling during winter weather.

Morgan County Emergency Management Specialist Hilary Granbois said misusing space heaters represents one of the biggest dangers during winter weather.

"According to the U.S. Fire Administration, they're saying that December, January and February are when the most house fires occur, so people need to be cautious of how much they're using space heaters," Granbois said.

Granbois also said that pets need to stay indoors during winter weather.

"If they do go outside, they need to have a warm place to go," Granbois said. "For dogs, use straw in their dog houses instead of blankets because blankets can retain moisture, which isn't going to help keep them warm."

Granbois said residents need to remember to assemble an emergency kit for their car if out traveling and to check on their neighbors daily.

She said a list of items to be included in an emergency kit can be found at ready.gov/winter-weather.

The Alabama Department of Transportation has already been pre-treating highways in north Alabama in anticipation of hazardous weather today.

ALDOT North Region spokesman Seth Burkett advised motorists to monitor weather reports and check road conditions or closures beforehand by visiting algotraffic.com or downloading the ALGO traffic app.

"Anyone who must travel is urged to exercise great caution," Burkett said in a news release.

Magee said the winter precipitation is expected to be widespread today.

"All the way from northwest Alabama near the Shoals, all the way across northern Alabama," Magee said. "There could be hazardous impacts due to ice secretion on bridges and overpasses and potentially roadways."

Andy Kula of the weather service said temperatures will be in the 20s by this afternoon and drop into the teens by tonight with a windchill in the single digits.

Gerald Farrish from ABD Plumbing LLC in Decatur said residents can help prevent pipes bursting by disconnecting the hose from hose bibs.

"That's one of the biggest things I see people not doing," Farrish said. "If it's a frost-free hose bib it should be fine, but if it's not the frost-free kind they should cover up their hose bibs."

Farrish said people should leave their thermostat between 70 and 80 degrees and make sure crawl space doors are closed.

"Any draft coming into the crawl space would be the quickest thing to freeze someone's pipes," Farrish said.

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—wesley.tomlinson@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2438. 

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