Tuesday night’s high winds felled a towering oak tree that caused significant damage to a 116-year-old house in Old Decatur, while 17,000 Athens Utilities customers were left in the dark for up to five hours when lightning played havoc with substations, officials said.
A meteorologist with the National Weather Service said 40 mph winds moved through the Decatur area about 10 p.m. Tuesday.
“It takes a lot for those large trees to go down,” Meteorologist Andy Kula said. “Tuesday’s high heat and humidity contributed to the winds being up.”
A two-story house known as the Calvin House built in 1903, at 722 Ferry St. N.E., had significant damage to the left side of the structure when the oak uprooted, apparently from the high winds. The sidewalk and curb in front of the house were destroyed. The homeowners were not available for comment Wednesday afternoon.
Parks and Recreation Director Jason Lake said the oak tree, on the city right of way, was inspected by an arborist Aug. 7, who recommended the tree be taken down.
“We had several other trees recommended to be cut, also,” he said. “The wind took this one down before we could get to it. We’ve turned our report over to the legal department. They will let us know what’s next.”
City Street and Environmental Services Director Rickey Terry said his department will replace the sidewalk and curbing once the tree has been removed and his department can schedule the work.
Morgan County Emergency Management Agency Director Eddie Hicks said his office had received no reports of damage. “We were lucky enough to dodge it,” he said.
In Limestone County, a representative for Athens Utilities said electrical power was lost in portions of Athens, Mooresville and Clements.
“The storm came through about 9:30 p.m. and we had a couple of substations damaged. Lightning was the cause,” said James Gray, geographical information systems coordinator with Athens Utilities. “Most of the power was restored by 1:30, and it was all back on by 2:30 a.m.”
Limestone County EMA Officer Daphne Ellison said her office had no reports of damage.
In Lawrence County, EMA Director Johnny Cantrell said he had scattered reports of tree limbs down across the county. “We had no road blockage, just some small limbs,” he said. “We were lucky we didn’t have more damage.”
Kula said Tuesday’s high topped out at 97, with a heat index value between 105 and 110 degrees reported from Pryor Field Regional Airport. He said the Shoals area reached a heat index of 112 degrees.
He said today’s high is forecast to be about 90 with less humidity. “We’ll see a big drop in mugginess,” he said.
The weekend forecast calls for a high of 97 on Saturday and 94 on Sunday with no rain either day.