NWS: Tornado on ground for 25 miles

Published: Apr. 29, 2011 at 11:40 AM CDT|Updated: May. 27, 2011 at 7:40 AM CDT
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Damage in Toney off of Carter's Gin Road
Damage in Toney off of Carter's Gin Road

The National Weather Service has completed preliminary ground and aerial surveys of damage in several Alabama counties.

The tornado that touched down in Limestone County and moved into Madison Counties is believed to have been an EF-4 tornado.  Surveyors estimate it had winds of 190 mph and was up to three-fourths a mile wide.

The storm resulted in 11 fatalities and a damage path was found from the Tanner community in Limestone County to past the Anderson Hill community in Madison County.

The NWS found nearly a dozen high tension power lines snapped or pulled up and concrete power poles snapped off their bases.

NWS has found evidence of two tornadoes in Franklin County.

For the first one, surveyors estimate it was EF-2 tornado about 150 yards wide with 120 mph winds. It touched down in the Hodges community along Alabama Highway 187.  The NWS found trees snapped, two collapsed chicken houses, roofs torn off, and debris thrown about 100 yards.  The tornado moved passed Alabama Highway 172 but did not reach Highway 187.

The second tornado that touched down in Franklin County is estimated to be an EF-4.  Phil Campbell was devastated by this one, and more than 20 deaths have been confirmed.  With winds of up to 175 mph, the path of the nearly half a mile tornado looks to be more than 12 miles long.  The path started near the southern Franklin/Marion County line.  Most of the damage occurred from the intersection of County Road 51 and Alabama Highway 237 to the intersection of County Road 81 and County Road 75.  Houses were completely destroyed and cars and debris were tossed.

The National Weather Service has also completed their preliminary damage survey for the tornado damage in DeKalb County.  The report rates the tornado as an EF-4 that was half a mile wide with 170 mph winds.  The path covered about 16 miles from the Lakeview Community traveling parallel of state route 75 through Fyffe, Rainsville, and Sylvania.  Some damage was also reported near Henagar.   Surveyors found trees snapped, extensive building damage, and debris thrown for about a mile.

These are just from the preliminary reports, more detailed reports will be available at a later date.  The National Weather Service will be conducting more surveys Friday in other areas affected by Wednesday storms.

National Weather Service meteorologists surveyed across Marion County impacting Hackleburg. The damage there was consistent with a large tornado. Winds were estimated at least
140 mph. The tornado was 3/4 miles wide and the path was 25.2 miles long. At least 25 fatalities were reported with this storm. Along the path hundreds of trees were downed and 200 structures were damaged. 100 of these structures were completely destroyed. This tornado damage path continued into Franklin county. There will be another evaluation done on the worst damage points on Friday to determine if the rating needs to be increased.