Sun returns to Chilton sky

Published 8:22 pm Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wet weather has finally left Chilton County for a while, but it left the area and state with some tremendous rainfall amounts.

In the first seven days of the year, officials at the Chilton Research and Extension Center have already recorded about 3 inches of rain. Last year, 4.28 inches were recorded for the whole month.

Center superintendent Jim Pitts said the rainfall should help refill the ponds of many farmers in Chilton County.

“Our pond was down, but it’s now beginning to fill back up again,” Pitts said. “We only need a little more than an inch to hit last year’s numbers.”

Fortunately, the excessive amount of rain hasn’t caused any major problems. County engineer Tony Wearren said he hasn’t had to close any roads or bridges because of the rainfall.

“To my knowledge, we haven’t had any roads or bridges get washed out with the rainfall,” he said. “The majority of the complaints have been water standing in the road, which could cause hydroplaning.”

Though complaints have been received about standing water, Wearren said there haven’t been many. One reason is the road department clipped the sides of roads last year, allowing more water to drain off the roads.

“I know it helped especially on the paved roads,” Wearren said. “Some were complaining then that we messed up the roads because it made the roads messy, but now others are asking for their roads to be trimmed.”

The rain has also created a swell along most of the rivers in Alabama. Some areas across north Alabama have received as much as six inches of rain, causing numerous flood warnings to be issued across the state.

To help with flooding, Alabama Power has opened the spill gates at dams along the Coosa and Black Warrior rivers. Lay, Mitchell and Jordan dams are included in those releases.

Two storage reservoirs on the Coosa – Weiss Lake and Lake Logan Martin – are near summer pool levels and are expected to continue to rise in the coming days, according to the power company. Weiss is predicted to crest at about 566 feet late Thursday or Friday, about two feet above summer pool. Logan Martin is expected to crest at about 467 feet on Thursday, two feet above summer pool. Spillway gates are operating at Logan Martin and could be opened at Weiss later today.

Alabama Power spokeswoman Jan Ellis said the spill gates at Lay, Mitchell and Jordan dams have been opened the first week of December for a brief time and also raised during Tropical Storm Fay in August. However, Ellis said it’s probably been a couple of years since Alabama Power raised gates on the upper Coosa.

— Brent Maze can be reached at