Some area residents went to sleep Christmas night to the sounds of thunderstorms and awoke Wednesday morning to the sight of snowflakes as a wild weather pattern passed through the area.
Officials say northwest Alabama was fortunate to escape major damage from the storms, unlike south Alabama, where tornadoes caused heavy destruction in Mobile.
“We had a lot of rain and strong winds, but all of the bad stuff stayed south of us and most of the snow to the west and north of us,” said George Grabryan, director of the Lauderdale County Emergency Management Agency.
Grabryan said his agency received a couple of reports of downed trees but no major damage.
Colbert County also escaped damage, EMA Director Mike Melton said.
“We didn’t hear of any problems at all on Tuesday or Tuesday night,” Melton said. “I guess there is no place like home for us — it was like it missed our part of the world for a change. I’m glad we missed some of the problems. Everything is running as normally as possible.”
Franklin County EMA Director Roy Gober said no damage was reported in his county. Instead, residents saw snow early Wednesday.
“There were a few snow flurries, but it (was not) cold enough to snow much,” Gober said.
Hackleburg Police Chief Kenny Hallmark said flurries were heavy at times Wednesday morning.
“It was almost a white day-after Christmas,” Hallmark said. “It started snowing about 6:30 a.m. I had stopped to get something at the Tiger Mart and I thought I was seeing things. It was snowing like crazy.”
He said the snow was pretty but the ground was too warm for it to stick. “That’s the best kind of snow.”
The snow also surprised Russellville police Lt. Scotty Lowery.
“I walked out of the house to go to work and I couldn’t believe it was snowing, after the threat of tornadoes (Tuesday) night,” Lowery said. “You never know what to expect with weather anymore.”
Jennifer Lee, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Huntsville, said the temperature didn’t drop enough for accumulation.
“It’s so hard to get that combination of cold temperatures and enough moisture to get snowfall here,” Lee said.
The overnight low crept into the upper 20s in the Shoals, with winds gusting to 30 mph making it feel even colder.
The Shoals gets a reprieve from wet weather today, with partly cloudy skies and a high near 44, according to the weather service forecast. Rain returns Friday, with a 20 percent chance during the day and 70 percent chance Friday night. Saturday’s rain chances are 30 percent.
Lee said a high-pressure system is expected to move in early next week, and there is a slight chance that rain could affect New Year’s plans.
The New Year’s Eve forecast calls for a 20 percent chance of rain Monday night, with temperatures in the mid-30s. There also is a slight chance of showers New Year’s Day, with highs in the upper 40s, Lee said.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bernie Delinski can be reached at 256-740-5739 or email@example.com.