Much of Alabama is under threat of severe weather this afternoon and evening. The National Weather Service is predicting damaging winds of up to 70 miles per hour this afternoon. The forecast also includes hail and the possibility of isolated tornadoes. Several school districts across north and central Alabama dismissed early or canceled after-school activities in anticipation of the storms. John de Block is the warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham. He says the storm threat will continue well into the overnight hours.
“As we get towards midnight, a squall line will be approaching from the northwest and will begin to move through all portions of central Alabama. It looks like the main threat for this squall line is going to be the potential for strong, damaging straight-line winds.”
The storm system is also causing flooding concerns. The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for the Tombigbee River in southwest Alabama.
Alabama lawmakers are beginning the 2016 legislative session on Groundhog Day to familiar budget woes, but could see some new debates this session as well.
Legislators heard a budget briefing this morning to see the outlook for the state's general fund.
Republicans and Democrats have introduced rival proposals to establish a state lottery. Lawmakers are also expected to debate a teacher pay raise and tenure changes for teachers.
Lawmakers this session might also consider a gasoline tax to pay for road and bridge construction and a bond issue to replace aging prisons.
The session could last until mid-May.
Governor Robert Bentley delivers his State of the State Address tonight. Business leaders in Alabama already know what they want to see during the 2016 legislative session. The Birmingham Business Alliance and the Business Council of Alabama have both issued their agendas for the State house and senate. Alison Howell is Vice President of Public Policy for the Birmingham Business Alliance. She says careful preparation has gone into her group’s top priorities, including the historic preservation tax credit.
“This year our top legislative priority is the historic preservation tax credit, the renewal and extension of that tax credit. It’s got a lot of support among the business community and the state. So we’ve been working diligently on getting that legislation ready for the session next week.”
You can listen to Governor Bentley’s State of the State Speech tonight at 6:30 here on Alabama Public Radio.