After tornado, more storms on their way

Published 3:00 am Saturday, April 29, 2017

A brief tornado threatened a small area of Pike County between Troy and Banks Thursday and caused some major damage, but residents in the area escaped injury.

EMA Director Jeanna Barnes said Pike County residents need to remain alert Sunday night as severe weather becomes a possibility again.

Barnes said the National Weather Service has set the severe weather risk as “marginal” for the area but said Thursday was also only a marginal risk for the county.

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“At one point we were under a slight risk and then they dropped us down to a marginal risk,” Barnes said. “But it’s April in Alabama, so it’s the middle of spring sever weather season any storm could become severe.”

The risk predicted right now for Southeast Alabama is some damaging winds and some possible isolated tornadoes.

Barnes said things could develop quickly though, much like they did Thursday morning.

“It was kind of like the tornado that hit Wal-Mart,” Barnes said. “The type of tornado we had Thursday is what we call a “spin-up” tornado that can develop quickly between radar scans. We don’t want people to become complacent.”

The tornado Thursday uprooted trees and caused structural damage in areas near U.S. Highway 29 near Union Hill Road and Alabama Highway 223.

“We had a lot of trees down and some structural damage, from a few shingles being ripped off to a mobile home being flipped,” Barnes said.

Rubie Townsend, the only occupant of that mobile home, was safely away from home at the time.

Barnes said the National Weather Service notified her that they detected rotation over the area, but before she could send that update to residents the tornado warning hit and the damage was done.

The EMA had updated public officials and schools officials about potential severe weather though in advance of the storm and had been updating residents on the progress of the storm via social media.

Barnes said it is important for residents to make sure they have multiple ways to stay alert on the progress of storms as storm season continues.