Leaving her family’s house in Decatur on Christmas night, Hartselle resident Gail Bates had to drive slower than normal so high winds and rain wouldn’t push her 1998 Buick LaSabre off the road.
An intense winter storm from the southwest brought heavy rain to the Tennessee Valley on Christmas Day, resulting in damaging winds and flooding in some areas.
Bates, who hit the roads again Wednesday morning, said chilly, snowy conditions in Decatur made it difficult to drive and peruse stores for post-Christmas bargains.
“There was a big change in the weather when we left Hartselle,” she said. “It was cold, but not really that bad, but as we got toward Decatur, that really changed. We saw snow and the wind was really blowing.”
Local shoppers braved heavy winds, high temperatures in the 30s and a mix of light snow (but no accumulation) and rain Wednesday as they returned presents, used gift cards and took advantage of holiday sales.
Several Decatur residents awoke Wednesday morning to no electricity after high winds downed trees and limbs, causing an outage to 1,227 customers.
Another 105 customers were impacted by 11 small outages caused by trees and limbs tearing down lines and a power pole being broken.
The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory Wednesday as west winds reached up to 25 mph, with a few wind gusts up to 35 mph in Morgan, Lawrence and Limestone counties.
Meteorologist Chelly Amin said drivers should be cautious of slick spots today as high temperatures rise to the low 40s.
“If a lot of this residual water in the roadways, parking lots, overpasses and bridges doesn’t evaporate or back off by morning, it will be very slick,” she said. “There’s a possibility of slick spots, especially on bridges, waterways and more sheltered locations.”
Amin said local rainfall remained 1.7 inches below the normal amount for the year as of 4 p.m. Wednesday. Since Jan. 1, the Huntsville-Decatur area has seen 51.8 inches of rain, with 6.3 inches in December.
Cullman resident Raeann Moore stopped at Kmart in Decatur on Wednesday before meeting at a local restaurant to celebrate her mother Gayle Phillips’ birthday.
Moore said high wind gusts Tuesday knocked down a Christmas tree that was on display outside her Cullman home. Her mother’s Christmas sign was also blown down as a result of the storm.
Moore said she welcomes colder temperatures and hopes the Tennessee Valley sees snow accumulation in the coming weeks.
“I’m ready for it — I wish it would stay like this for the rest of the season,” she said. “I’d like to have some snow for my kids to play in.”
Today’s weather forecast
- Morgan, Limestone and Lawrence counties will experience partly cloudy conditions this morning with highs in the low 40s and north winds about 10 mph. Partly cloudy conditions will return tonight with light winds and lows about 30 degrees.