Wiregrass schools closed Monday ahead of a line of strong storms that raced through the area. Although most areas escaped heavy damage, Eufaula appeared to be significantly impacted.
The storm ripped the roof off of Eufaula Fitness on East Broad Street, most of it coming to rest in the Eufaula Post Office parking lot and the surrounding trees. Several other buildings in the area suffered damage, including other pieces of buildings torn apart and left lying in the streets. A storage building behind Eufaula Hardware completely collapsed and parts of it were left lying in the roadways nearby. Numerous trees were uprooted by the high winds, some falling on houses, collapsing porches and blocking roadways.
Officials have yet to determine if the damage was the result of a tornado or damaging straight line winds. However, there was no tornado warning or watch issued by the National Weather Service before or during the storm. Barbour County EMA Director David Logan said it could be days before the NWS can determine if the area was struck by a tornado.
Meanwhile, Monday’s storms downed trees and power lines around the rest of the Wiregrass, but officials were thankful damage appeared minimal.
“It doesn’t appear we suffered anything of major significance,” Houston County Emergency Management Agency Chris Judah said. “Of course we took all the preparations ahead of time. It is better to over-prepare than to be caught short.”
Henry County EMA Director Ronnie Dollar said the county escaped major damage as well.
“It looks like nothing other than a few trees that fell,” Dollar said. “We had a couple across some roads but that appears to be all.”
Monday’s storms arrived earlier than previously forecast, forcing some school systems to move up planned dismissals.
More strong storms are expected Wednesday. A weather webinar with the National Weather Service will be held for Wiregrass emergency agencies at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
According to the National Weather Service, another strong frontal boundary will approach Wednesday and push through the region Wednesday Night and early Thursday, with another round of strong to severe thunderstorms expected. Stronger activity will be capable of producing damaging wind gusts, isolated tornadoes and locally heavy rainfall.