More May 27, 1973 Memories…

| May 29, 2007 @ 8:23 pm | 2 Replies

Thanks to Patrick Story of Demopolis for sharing his experience from May 27, 1973…


Thanks to you and the team for the great memories of May 27, 1973. I too have vivid memories of that day. I had just finished 6th grade at Westside Elementary School and was ready to enjoy the summer break. An aunt and uncle had driven down that Sunday from Gardendale to enjoy lunch and visit. This was a rare event for us to have relatives down from the Birmingham area, so it was a great day. My uncle, dad and I played horseshoes for most of the afternoon, and my uncle commented on how breezy and humid it was. When dark clouds began to form off the the west, they decided to head for home before the weather turned. This turned out to be a wise decision on their part.

The thing I remember most about that day was the sky just after they left. It went from a dark, heavy purple color to an almost green, coppery color. Even my mom looked out the kitchen window and said that she had never seen anything like it. It was around that time that we heard of the tornado on the ground just to the northeast of us. My aunt and uncle were on the highway headed home, and my uncle told us later that at one point he saw the funnel shape above the treeline to his left as they were heading out. They probably were just ahead of it on the way home.

Looking back, I remember it raining that evening, but don’t remember any real heavy storms. I feel like Demopolis was quite fortunate that day. My two brothers both lived in Center Point at that time, about 10 minutes apart. My oldest brother lived about a block from where a man died in the storm. There was no damage on his street however. My other brother and his wife had been boating that afternoon, and had just returned when the storm began. He was washing his boat down in the garage when his wife ran downstairs and told him of the approaching tornado. They took refuge behind the water-heater in the garage and watched as their boat, which was still hooked to the trailer but not tied down, slowly levitated off the trailer bed and shook violently. He said at that time they could actually see the funnel as it passed the open door of their garage. After the storm passed they went outside to assess the damage, and saw a remarkable sight (which he still has in a framed photograph he took moments later). The house next door to theirs was open on the end closest to his. It looked like someone took a chainsaw and simply cut the end off of the house, exposing the kitchen. There was no debris, no splinters, nothing that would indicate there was ever a wall there. Yet inside, on the kitchen table, the breakfast dishes were resting right where the family had left them, and there was even a box of Special K cereal still sitting there. Nothing on the inside had been disturbed in the least. My brother immediately grabbed his camera and took the photo. He said if he hadn’t done that people might not believe him when he told the story.

If I am not mistaken the town of Wilsonville in Shelby County was hit by a strong tornado that night (can’t remember if it was the same storm or not). The little league baseball field my dad helped build 8 years earlier was destroyed, and that was the only time I saw him tear up short of a funeral.

Anyway, thanks for all the great info on that night. I know I will never forget it.

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James Spann is one of the most recognized and trusted television meteorologists in the industry. He holds the AMS CCM designation and television seals from the AMS and NWA. He is a past winner of the Broadcast Meteorologist of the Year from both professional organizations.

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