A Tornado Watch has been issued for Cullman County until 2 a.m. Sunday morning.
Storm shelters are open throughout the county, said Phyllis Little, director of the Cullman County Emergency Management Agency.
Those in the Bremen, Good Hope areas should seek shelter immediately.
Shelters open to the public include the Cullman County Courthouse in Cullman, Vinemont-Providence Fire Department Station 2 and Station 1, the city of Hanceville library, and Garden City.
Pets are not allowed inside the shelters.
POSTED AT 9:15 p.m.
Emergency crews were responding Saturday night to reports of damage to commercial buildings on U.S. 31 in Hanceville and unspecified damage in the White City community.
Information released by the Cullman County Emergency Management Agency also noted there had a report of a tornado in the Welti community.
The damage occurred after 7 p.m. There was not a report of injuries and the extent of the damage was unknown by deadline of this article. By 7:39 p.m., EMA was reporting another tornado on the ground in the Baileyton community.
A storm system that left at least 10 dead and more than a dozen injured in Mississippi appeared at times to be losing its intensity Saturday as it neared Cullman County. But a strong cell within the front led to a tornado warning being issued for Cullman around 6:15 p.m.
Severe weather hit the Colony, Dodge City, and Good Hope areas soon after the warning was issued. Cullman County EMA officials issued a warning for residents to seek shelter. The warning soon spread to the Holly Pond area. By 7:15 p.m the heart of that storm had dissipated, but just as one warning expired a second one was issued for the Baileyton area. By 8:15 p.m. the warning for Cullman County had expired.
Earlier in the day, around 17,000 Cullman County residents were left without power for less than an hour when the Cullman primary substation along Highway 157 was knocked out by the storm. The power outage occurred about 4:50 p.m. Power was restored about an hour later.
“We had limited outages throughout the day due to high winds and some lightning, but everything’s back up now,” said Mike Manning, general manager of the Cullman Power Board, around 5:45 p.m.
Scattered power outages were reported in northeast and southwest Cullman and parts of Hanceville. Some traffic lights were also out in the city of Cullman before sundown, but were soon restored.
Some 100 residents in West Point and other areas of the county lost power Friday night when storms first entered the area, said Brian Lacy, spokesman for Cullman Electric Cooperative.
“Our guys have been busy, but they did a good job. At one point this morning, we had 700 in Hanceville without power,” Lacy said.
Cullman County EMA officials were monitoring weather conditions throughout Friday night.
Temperatures remained cool and stable across Cullman County throughout the day, a factor that may have spared the community some of the harsher elements of the storm, said Cullman Fire Marshal Chris Chaffin Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve been watching the storms as they come across from Mississippi and they appear to be losing their intensity as they cross into Alabama. We have seen some severe thunderstorm warnings nearby, but nothing as strong as what affected Mississippi,” Chaffin said. “But you never know, so we’ll continue to watch conditions.”
EMA director Phyllis Little said shelters had been open for Cullman County residents throughout the day because of a tornado watch. Fifty of the state’s 52 counties were under a tornado watch at one point during the day.
Shelters opened to the public Saturday included the Cullman County Courthouse in Cullman, Vinemont-Providence Fire Department Station 2 and Station 1, the city of Hanceville library, Garden City, and town hall at Good Hope.
- The Cullman County sports hall of fame banquet has been cancelled. The banquet will be held on May 6, 2010.
- Carson and Barnes Circus canceled for Saturday, still on for Sunday. Check back for any changes.