I still cannot believe what happened on Wednesday. As much as we studied, and prepared and warned about the significance of the event in advance, I think that its ferocity and scope still is shocking to me. Every tornado I have seen has been a monster.
Scroll down and be sure to watch Lisa Spinks’ video of the tornado near Ohatchee. It’s one of those monsters. And the video from I-359 in Tuscaloosa. Wow…
This tornado was spawned by the tremendous, long-lived supercell that produced the Tuscaloosa/Birmingham. I had surmised that the deadly tornado had lifted just northeast of Birmingham, and that seems to be borne out by the National Weather Service’s preliminary track map.
According to Gary Goggins from the NWS: Right now we have 7 tracks that are EF-3 or greater at the moment. You can view all of the tracks on our webpage, that will be updated frequently as we gather all the information as it comes in.
This of course, does not include tornado paths in the Tennessee Valley or in Cullman County, which is in the NWS Hunstville area of responsibility
My preliminary count, which is probably short on the Tennessee Valley storms, is at least 18 tornadoes. I am afraid most of them will be strong tornadoes (EF3 or higher).
The National Weather Service in Birmingham has completed four storm surveys in their area of responsibility so far. They have finished their surveys of the paths in Marion, Lamar and Winston Counties.
The Hackleburg Tornado killed at least 25 along its 25 mile path in Marion County before it passed into Franklin County and devastated Phil Campbell. It is rated as an EF3 for now. We know that at least 26 people died in the Franklin County town. This makes it the second deadliest tornado in Alabama history, deadlier than any modern era tornado, and deadlier than any single tornado on the terrible day of March 21, 1932.
The Shottsville Tornado apparently was produced by the same supercell storm that caused the EF-5 tornado at Smithville in Monroe County, Mississippi. This tornado, which tracked northwest of Hamilton, killed at least six along its 19.1 mile path in Alabama. It started in Mississippi and continued into Franklin County. It is tentatively rated an EF-3 pending the rest of the survey.
The Haleyville Tornado caused EF-3 damage along the path already surveyed in Marion and Winston Counties. It likely continued into the Tennessee Valley, so we will have to hear from the NWS Huntsville about the final rating for this tornado. It fortunately did not cause any fatalities.
Finally, the Sawyerville/Eoline Tornado, which moved across Greene, Hale and Bibb Counties starting just after 5 p.m., is rated as EF-3, making the surveys four for four on strong tornadoes. That batting average probably won’t decrease very much, unfortunately. This tornado killed at least seven people. We will have more survey information all weekend.
HAMILTON: Hamilton in Marion County was a target on Wednesday. The Hackleburg Tornado passed near Hamilton. The Shottsville Tornado passed west of the city, near Bexar and the Haleyville Tornado originated just south of the city before roaring northeast toward Pea Ridge and Whitehouse, eventually striking the southern and eastern side of Haleyville.