BIRMINGHAM — A winter storm that dropped as much as a foot of snow on parts of north Alabama over two days left almost 25,000 homes and businesses without electricity Thursday and snarled traffic.
Utility workers were out repairing downed power lines and road conditions improved quickly. But another night of freezing temperatures could cause more problems before temperatures rise into the 50s on Friday.
The worst power problems were around Birmingham, where Alabama Power Co. said about 9,900 customers lost electricity at the height of the outages. Thousands more were in the dark in Cullman County, to the north, and in the Tennessee Valley.
Traffic crawled on a snow-blanketed Interstate 65 south of the Tennessee line and an 18-wheeler flipped onto its side on I-59 in Birmingham. Fallen trees blocked several roads in Blount County.
But problems weren't as bad as they could have been because many schools and workplaces closed or opened late for a third straight day.
“We learned a lesson a couple of weeks ago about being prepared,” said Steve Alexander, who was out taking photos of his snow-covered church in downtown Birmingham shortly after daybreak.
The National Weather Service said the Jackson County town of Pisgah, located atop Sand Mountain in northeast Alabama, received about 8.5 inches of snow by early Thursday. Parts of metro Huntsville got 7 inches, and 6 inches fell in Albertville and Cherokee.
Accumulations of 4 to 5 inches of snow were common as far south as metro Birmingham.
The weather service said some spots in northeast Alabama got about a foot of snow over two days. That approached snowfall totals from the blizzard that shut down much of the same area for days in 1993.
The snowfall totals were greater than the ones from two weeks ago, when thousands of people were stranded in schools, cars and businesses in central Alabama, but problems were fewer.
Last time, unexpectedly heavy snow fell in metro Birmingham, trapping people in the middle of the day. Forecasters got the winter storm predictions right this time, prompting mass closings that prevented a repeat.