Around 4:30 pm on Wednesday, November 15, 1989, a tornado touched down near Madkin Mountain on Redstone Arsenal, southwest of Huntsville. The tornado moved northeast towards the heavily-populated Airport Road area, where it would destroy or damage 80 businesses, 3 churches, a dozen apartment buildings, and more than 1,000 cars. It moved on, climbing over Garth Mountain, demolishing Jones Valley Elementary School, and destroying 259 homes in the Jones Valley area. The tornado then moved out into eastern Madison County, where it damaged the equipment and maintenance headquarters of Commission District 2 as well as a state forestry office, destroyed 3 more homes, a volunteer fire department, several barns and sheds, and numerous electrical towers.
All told, the tornado killed 21 people and injured 463. Rated an F4 on the Fujita Scale, it inflicted approximately $250 million in damage.
Unfortunately, there was initially no warning for the tornado in that Dopper Radar was not operational at the time.
In November 1989 I was working for WBRC… here was some of our coverage… (thanks to Mike Wilhelm for getting this online)
Category: Met 101/Weather History