The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

February 13, 2014

25K without power at worst in Ala; thawing begins

— BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A winter storm that dropped as much as a foot of snow on parts of north Alabama over two days left almost 25,000 homes and businesses without electricity Thursday and snarled traffic.

Utility workers were out repairing downed power lines and road conditions improved quickly. But another night of freezing temperatures could cause more problems before temperatures rise into the 50s on Friday.

Art Faulkner, the director of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, said the state fared better this time than during a winter storm two weeks ago when thousands of people were stranded in schools, cars and workplaces.

"We're hoping it's going to be a good day," said Faulkner.

The worst power problems were around Birmingham, where Alabama Power Co. said about 9,900 customers lost electricity at the height of the outages, but the lights were coming back on. Thousands more were in the dark in Cullman County, to the north, and in the Tennessee Valley.

Morning traffic crawled on a snow-blanketed Interstate 65 south of the Tennessee line and an 18-wheeler flipped onto its side on I-59 in Birmingham. Fallen trees blocked several roads in Blount County, where chain saw crews were out working.

Problems weren't as bad as they could have been because many schools and workplaces closed or opened late for a third straight day.

"We learned a lesson a couple of weeks ago about being prepared," said Steve Alexander, who was out taking photos of his snow-covered church in downtown Birmingham shortly after daybreak.

Gov. Robert Bentley said this week's snow and ice storm was different from the Jan. 28 storm. The first storm hit quickly and went farther north than was forecast, which resulted in schools and businesses closing quickly in the Birmingham area and the interstates becoming clogged while they were becoming icy, Bentley said.

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