NWS: Atmore storm damage caused by severe downburst wind event

Damaging wind and rain in and around Atmore, Alabama Sunday morning proved to be more than just an average thunderstorm. National Weather Service declared the damage done to Atmore was done by a severe downburst wind event.

Downed power lines, damaged roofs, and debris in roadways and yards was the sight on Sunday morning after storms billowed through.

Escambia County Alabama EMA officials, together with the National Weather Service out of Mobile, assessed the damage caused by early morning storms in Atmore Sunday.

“We rely heavily on the national weather service to get the information to us on coming weather events. One of the ways they do that is to investigate these events after they happen to determine what their radar equipment was telling them at the exact time the damage was done,” said EMA Director David Adams.

At the Burke’s Outlet and Fred’s Store off Highway 21, repairs were underway fixing what was left behind. The Atmore Fire Department assisted by bringing in the ladder truck and seeing what damage was done from a different perspective.

“Pretty much Southern Atmore has quite a bit of widespread damage. We’ve been driving through and found several houses that had windows blown in, structural damage to the porches, a lot of tree damage, so we are determining which way this debris is spread out because that will give us an indication of if this was straight line winds or a possible tornado,” said John Purdy, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service.

Mayor Jim Staff said the people of Atmore are lucky.

“All I can say is The Lord blessed us. He didn’t take any lives and didn’t hurt anybody. We can repair this. It could be a lot worse. It could be a lot worse. Of course this is tough on the city right here but we will overcome it,” said Mayor Staff.

Around 7 Sunday night, the NWS confirmed the damage in Atmore was caused by a severe downburst wind event. Even though the cause of the damage was determined, assessments still had to be made…and will continue to be made into the week.

“You go to the epicenter of where the most damage occurred and you try to find the path itself. Now we have to go to the beginning and find out where it started and we have to find out where it ended. So not only are we getting the path width and the maximum wind damage, the maximum wind that created the damage but also the beginning and ending and the put that to time,” said Purdy.

While damage was done at the Burke’s Store and Fred’s, just two blocks away, a longleaf pine tree came crashing through the roof of Mr. and Mrs. McGill’s home.

Mr. McGill told FOX10 News Sunday he and his wife were getting ready for church when the tree crashed into their bedroom.

“I heard the noise. It wasn’t that freight train noise like they always talk about. It was a strong wind. You could hear the swooshing of bushes up against the house. I could hear some sleet. And then “boom” I heard this tree fall on my house. My wife was in the bathroom next to the room. She yelled at me at that time. I ran down there. It kind of reminded me of looking at that movie “The Birds.” You ever saw that movie? That motion picture where the birds peck the holes in the roof? That’s the way that bedroom looks. You look up and you see the sky,” said Mr. McGill.

His 9-year-old grandson, Rease was happy his Ma and Paw Paw were not hurt.

“Well, I actually feel glad because they were out of the room. They weren’t asleep or anything. So I’m glad they weren’t asleep when that happened because they would have been hurt,” said Rease.

Alabama Power arrived on scene to various places damaged restoring power throughout the day.

Stay with FOX10 News and FOX10tv.com for the latest on the storm.

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