Early snowfall wreaks havoc on county
The Christmas snowman decorations in many yards throughout the county were joined by the real thing late Thursday evening.
One of the earliest winter storms in recent memory moved into the county just before 4 p.m. and quickly dumped several inches of snow in some areas.
Roy Gober, director of the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency, said that four inches of snow was recorded in the Phil Campbell area while most other areas received one to two inches.
"It was the biggest snow flakes I've ever seen," said Ronnie Crouch, who lives on Alabama 243. "I couldn't believe how much it snowed."
Heavy rains in the morning hours left wet conditions that compounded problems once the snow showers moved in and temperatures dropped.
Dozens of motorists, many of which were on their way home from work, ended up in ditches or stranded on roadsides.
"From 6 to 10 p.m. we responded to 30 to 40 calls from stranded motorists," said Russellville Police Chief Chris Hargett.
City streets were closed for about three hours.
While there was no major accidents and no injuries reported, officials stayed busy responding to fender benders and to those who ran off the road.
Sheriff Larry Plott said his department responded to more than 60 calls throughout the evening.
"For example, we had about four events within an hour on one particular road off 243," Plott said.
The EMA office received several hundred phone calls from people who had slid off the road or from those reporting power outages, officials said.
Gober said that almost all Alabama Power customers in the county were without power at some point in the evening.
"Some of them were out of power for about six hours," he said.