Dangerous storms weaken just as they enter Dallas County

Published 8:04 pm Wednesday, December 26, 2012

An employee with the City of Demopolis begins cleaning up some of the storm debris on Russell Drive left behind by Tuesday’s severe thunderstorms, which included a confirmed EF-1 tornado. -- Justin Averette | The Demopolis Times

Residents of Dallas County — hunkered down in their homes — were not the only ones watching a variety of television weather reports, refreshing their web browsers, routinely visiting a particular weather website, or listening intently to their weather radio. Volunteers, safety officials and those by the Dallas County Emergency Management Agency were just as tuned in Tuesday.

Dallas County EMA director Rhonda Abbott said she and those others in the EMA’s office located in Dallas County were paying close attention to weather radars and reports, showing lines and lines of threatening storms taking aim right at Dallas County.

“There were some stressful moments in that office [Tuesday],” Abbott said. “We were seeing the damage reports from other counties and watching the storm path projections aimed right at Dallas County. We were blessed.”

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As the evening wore on, the severe storms — those which reported included tornadoes — seemed to set their sights on Dallas County, only to weaken as they approached the county line, and ultimately provided little more than heavy rains and winds.

“From what we were told by the National Weather Service, the warm front parked right on the Dallas County and Wilcox County line. We had cooler air in Dallas County,” Abbott said. “The storms would come through Wilcox County and then hit that front and that cooler air. That’s what saved us.

“If that warm front had moved a few miles north, we would have been as under the gun as Wilcox County was all night.”

Although Dallas County was spared severe damage — minus sporadic power outages and one reported downed tree at Valley Grande Golf Course — neighboring counties were not as fortunate. Severe damage was reported in Demopolis and in Mosses in Lowndes County.

In Dallas County, at the peak of the storm, Pioneer Electric reported a total of 378 customers were without power, while Alabama Power reported a total of 300 customers lost power.

“The National Weather Service did an excellent job in forecasting Tuesday’s outbreak. They can’t pinpoint and say this storm or that is going to hit Dallas County or this area,” Abbott said. “We were very fortunate. And, I’m glad to say that we were fortunate because it could have very easily been us.

“With Demopolis and Mosses, that was pretty close to us. We dodged a bullet again; very fortunate.”