Chilton County gets big rain from Fay

Published 11:23 pm Monday, August 25, 2008

Rain from the remnants of Tropical Storm Fay has been the story of Chilton County’s weather for the last 72 hours, and that precipitation is helping to improve the county’s drought situation.

The Chilton Research and Extension Center reported Monday morning almost four and a half inches of rain had fallen – a third of which came between 7 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. yesterday in a line of storms that caused two tornado warnings in Chilton County.

Center Superintendent Jim Pitts said this rainfall has helped the current drought situation.

“We’ve had some reports, especially around the County Road 37 area, that people had poured 4 to 6 inches out of their rain gauges Sunday morning,” Pitts said. “Sometimes, we don’t get that much rain in the whole month of August.”

Pitts said this kind of rainfall should reduce stress on the peach trees, which came through several very dry years. Also, Pitts said there was no significant wind damage due to the storm.

The heavy rainfall came from the outer feeder bands of Fay, which had the potential to spin off tornadoes. That caused Chilton County School Superintendent Keith Moore and the school transportation supervisor to decide to cancel school yesterday. Jefferson State also canceled all classes.

Not only was the severe weather an issue in the decision to close school, but the possibility of flash flooding was also.

“We didn’t want to have a school bus to get stuck on a washed out road in the middle of a tornado,” Moore said.

While the storm caused heavy rainfall, Chilton County engineer Tony Wearren said none of the county roads have been closed due to them washing out.

“Our crews have mostly been working on clearing trees out of roadways between Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning,” Wearren said.

“As soon as we have received a call about a tree being down, our crews have been dispatched to clear the roadway.”

The storm also created numerous power outages. About 2,000 Alabama Power customers and 1,300 Central Alabama Electric Cooperative partners in Chilton County lost power at the height of the storm. CAEC had all of its power restored by Sunday, and Alabama Power’s outages were all repaired by yesterday afternoon.

Alabama Power spokesperson Jan Ellis said they had a lot of power lines down.

“We were hoping to get most of them restored Saturday night into Sunday morning, but the high winds didn’t allow us to use our bucket trucks at that time,” Ellis said.

Statewide, Alabama Power had about 90,000 power outages. CAEC’s outages totaled nearly 7,500 with the hardest hit areas being Autauga, Chilton and Elmore counties.

Workers from Georgia Power and Gulf Power, which are a part of Southern Company, assisted Alabama Power with the outages.

The National Weather Service has predicted an 80 percent chance of rain today, and rain is in the forecast until Wednesday night. The storm is expected clear out of the area by Thursday.

– Brent Maze can be reached at