Smith Lake Park

Portions of Smith Lake Park remained flooded Wednesday afternoon after heavy rains overnight caused the lake's water level to continue to rise. 

In a long, stormy ending to the month of March, Cullman County saw another round of heavy rain early Wednesday that brought more flash flooding to the area. The county also received news that damage just northeast of Berlin from a severe weather system early Sunday had been the result of a small tornado.

After investigating the touchdown area between Berlin and Fairview on Tuesday, the Huntsville office of the National Weather Service determined that local damage from Sunday’s storm had been caused by an EF-1 tornado with estimated peak winds of 86 mph. Straight-line winds of up to 80 mph also were responsible Sunday for more widespread damage in eastern Cullman County along Alabama Highway 69 just east/northeast of Fairview.

According to NWS, the twister touched down southwest of Fairview shortly after 5:30 a.m. Sunday, snapping trees near the intersection of County Roads 747 and 1621. More trees snapped as the tornado tracked a path northeast before reaching its widest point in the area of County Road 1634, where it destroyed two farm outbuildings. The tornado left the ground before reaching County Road 1651 near the Duck River Reservoir.

With the county already completely soaked from a larger, more severe weather system over the weekend, a flood warning went out Wednesday and rapidly ushered the same widespread spot flooding across multiple areas previously affected by the earlier storms. But officials received no new reports Wednesday of structural damage or road wash-outs, though flooding at a handful of trouble spots — including ongoing flooding at Smith Lake Park — was exacerbated by the fresh rainfall.

After the heavy rainfall Wednesday, flooding persisted at the park and water levels remained visibly high across the county along creeks, under rural bridges, and other low-lying locations. But most of the day’s more widespread early spot flooding had subsided by late Wednesday afternoon, said Cullman Emergency Management Agency director Phyllis Little.

“We have some areas that were already compounded, because the water hadn’t gone down from our last rain episode over the weekend,” said Little. “Waterways are still running high, and we still have some flooding down at Smith Lake Park. But most of the flooding from the morning has cleared up. We haven’t received any new reports of roads washed out or damage to structures.”

The recurring pattern of severe weather ended with Wednesday’s storms, replaced by a cold air mass that triggered an early-April freeze watch for Cullman County and parts of north Alabama. The watch is effective overnight tonight and through the morning on Friday, with low temperatures expected fall into the high 20s. The short-lived cold blast will give way to warmer temps approaching the 70s by Sunday.

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