Brace yourselves. Winter is about to throw yet another punch to metro Birmingham, and this one could be the hardest of this season.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for all of northern Alabama, including Jefferson and Blount counties, beginning Monday afternoon and continuing through Tuesday morning. As of Sunday afternoon, forecasters are expecting winter weather to move into the area sometime in the mid-afternoon hours.
Exactly what form that wintry precip will take is still not certain. A lot depends on where temperatures will be at or below the freezing mark. That line is expected to be roughly along the Interstate 20 corridor, but it won't take much of a shift in temperatures to have a major impact on the precipitation that falls. Moving the 32-degree line northward could leave the metro area with just cold rain; moving southward could increase snowfall; and leaving it where it is could result in ice forming along roads and per lines, potentially causing widespread power outages.
The current forecast calls for an inch of snow from downtown Birmingham down to northern Shelby County, and on to three inches of snow from Fultondale northward. Additionally, a quarter-inch of ice accumulation is expected in the downtown area, with a bit less from Fultondale northward.
The higher elevations of Blount County could see as much as four inches of snow.
So far, no school systems have announced changes in schedules for Monday. The main time for precipitation is expected to arrive about the time schools would dismiss for the day, which means that buses could potentially be on the road as the winter weather begins.
We'll continue to update this story throughout the day and night.