Selma should escape more severe weather

Published 8:33 pm Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Selma and the Black Belt shouldn’t see the worst parts of severe weather that will continue to hit the Southeast region.

The National Weather Service in Huntsville and Birmingham reported during a briefing Wednesday afternoon that primary concern is in upper portions of the state.

Officials were concerned about possible flash flooding and wind gusts that could reach 50 mph in northeast Alabama.

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Cold air could cause snow or sleet in the northwest region, although temperatures weren’t expected to stay low enough to allow for accumulation.

A winter weather watch was issued for Marion, Winston, Fayette, Lamar and Pickens counties, where the heaviest precipitation is expected today. Snowfall could reach as high as three inches.

Severe weather that damaged buildings in north Alabama early Wednesday morning left Selma unscathed.

“We didn’t have anything today; 911 didn’t report anything to us,” said Rhonda Abbott, interim director of the Emergency Management Agency. “We just monitored everything as it came through.”

Some schools in north Alabama reported damages due to weather. But schools and colleges in the Selma area had no interruptions to class schedules.

David Hagood, spokesman for Dallas County Schools, said there was no damage related to weather. “None that we know of,” Hagood said.

An apparent tornado ripped off part of the roof of an elementary school in Oakman early Wednesday as fierce overnight storms dumped heavy rains on Alabama and caused scattered damage over a wide area.

No injuries were reported, but the National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for nine counties in the Tennessee Valley after some communities received as much as six inches of rain. Many areas received at least three inches of rain.

A suspected twister hit the town of Oakman, northwest of Birmingham in Walker County, about 1:30 a.m. Emergency management director Johnny Burnette said the elementary school was heavily damaged, along with as many as 18 nearby homes.

He said the town’s high school is located on the same property but wasn’t badly damaged.

High winds also peeled the shingles off houses in the St. Clair County town of Moody, and officials said a church was damaged.

Minor storm damage was reported near Scottsboro where winds destroyed several farm buildings and knocked down trees.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.