The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

January 31, 2013

After storms, cold and quiet to follow

— Cold but quiet weather is expected the rest of the week in the Tennessee Valley following a rash of thunderstorms early Wednesday that downed trees and interrupted power in Limestone County and spawned tornadoes and overturned cars across the Southeast, killing two.

Limestone damage

The storm system first slapped Limestone County in the predawn hours, overturning a gazebo on U.S. 72 and toppling the steeple of First Cumberland Presbyterian Church on U.S. 72, east of Rogersville and tearing holes in the roof.

Limestone County Emergency Management Agency reported a number of trees down in various County Commission districts, though no property damage, an EMA spokesperson said.

Also, high wind blew out a window in a home on Elm Street.

Both limbs and lightning triggered outages in Limestone County.

A limb landed on a power line tripping a breaker at Athens Primary Substation about 5 a.m. in central Limestone County, knocking out power on several roads, including Airfield Street, Alabama 127, and Sewell, Piney Chapel, Old Elkmont and Coffman roads, according to Athens Utilities Customer Relations Manager Amy Golden. Power was restored just before 6 a.m.

Another outage occurred around 10 a.m. off U.S. 31 near the county water tower in the Tanner community, after lightning struck a cross-arm on a utility pole, causing it to go offline, Golden said. That outage took workers a little longer to repair, she said.

Statewide impact

Statewide, the strong thunderstorms left thousands of people without power, causing scattered damage and forcing schools to delay opening as a precaution.

Alabama Power Co. said about 13,600 homes and businesses were left in the dark, but crews were out working in the rain to restore service.

In Winston County, powerful gusts raked a small airport in Addison, damaging a hangar and flipping a plane.

Numerous school systems in central Alabama delayed opening because of what forecasters said was a high risk of damaging winds. The University of Alabama also opened late.

Temperatures dropped from around 70 degrees into the 50s in North Alabama after the front passed.

The weather service issued flash flood warnings for several areas, saying the storm system could bring as much as 4 inches of rain in a few hours.

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