Tornado Emergency in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (4/27/2011); UPDATED (5/9/2011)


A tornado-spewing storm system that has killed at least 58 people across Alabama unleashed its fury on Tuscaloosa. Early indications say that this tornado was an EF-4 tornado and that it was on the ground for a few hours as well. The Birmingham-Tuscaloosa tornado had estimated winds of 190 mph. 65 people dead, 1000 injured, with almost 600 people still unaccounted for. The tornado formed at 4:43 pm local time just west-southwest of Tuscaloosa and it dissipated at 6:14 pm local time northeast of Birmingham, Alabama. This tornado was on the ground for 80.3 miles and was 1.5 miles wide. Not confirmed but at 80.3 miles, the Birmingham-Tuscaloosa tornado could be the 7th longest track tornado in Alabama history.

This supercell would produced tornadoes over its near 7 1/2 hour life, travelling 380 miles in that time. It would travel through parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, before deteriorating in the mountains of North Carolina.

And now the blog post as it was written April 27th, 2011.

A tornado emergency for a mile-wide tornado is in effect for Tuscaloosa. The University of Alabama is in danger. This storm has already killed 3 in Kemper County, Mississippi. Here is the latest on that storm.

Tornadic supercell with mile-wide tornado coming into Tuscaloosa

The south side of Tuscaloosa is under the gun. It is moving down Interstate 359 as this entry is being posted. Also near Skyland Boulevard is being nailed by a tornado. It is being shown live on ABC 33/40 as we speak. Also McFarland Mall is in the way of this tornado with debris is falling from the sky as well. A sense of urgency is going on with the University of Alabama being close to the path as well as the University Mall.

Reports of numerous homes flattened in the Flatwoods area of Tuscaloosa at 5:15 pm CT. Also the University Mall in Tuscaloosa, AL was destroyed by tornado that is now headed toward downtown Birmingham. At 6 pm, the tornado was moving just north of downtown Birmingham.

Alabama Power: 6pm update: Back up to 256,000 customers without power. Tuscaloosa County tornado affected 65,000 in last hour.

Death toll from this tornado is up to 15 as of 945 pm CT.

At 1030 pm CT, President Obama has declared an emergency in Alabama after Wednesday’s tornado outbreak.

“I’m in my car at corner on McFarland. Milo’s Hamburgers isn’t there anymore,” Tuscaloosa resident Phil Owen told ABC News affiliate WBMA. “Hobby Lobby [is the] only thing still standing at Woods Square Shopping Center. Big Lots, Full Moon Barbecue — piles of garbage where those places were.” – Courtesy of WBMA, Birmingham, Alabama

As of 8 am CT on Thursday, April 28th, the death from this tornado had climbed to 36!

Of note: Another casualty was almost the University of Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium. The tornado in Tuscaloosa narrowly missed the home of the Crimson Tide football team.

Because of the devastation, the university will hold no more classes this semester. Final exams for next week also have been canceled. Graduation ceremonies, which was scheduled for May 7, will be postponed until August.

Here is a still from the Tuscaloosa tornado as shown on 33/40 out of Birmingham, AL. At 5:23 pm CT, the tornado was still a mile wide!

Still from tornado in Tuscaloosa from 33/40 TV out of Birmingham, AL

Another pic of the tornado.

Another picture of the monster Tuscaloosa tornado

Mayor Maddox said at least a dozen city roads remain impassable and 83,000 homes were without power. Several city building including a fire station and a communication plant have been damaged. The University of Alabama is located in Tuscaloosa. Classes have been canceled for Thursday. Maddox said the National Guard were being dispatched to devastated areas across the state the Associated Press reported.

The Rosedale Courts Housing addition is rumored to be where most of the fatalities occurred from this tornado. A Salvation Army Shelter also was destroyed.

Several stores and restaurants in a business district at the intersection of McFarland Boulevard and 13th Street, near the DCH Regional Medical Center, were destroyed by the tornado; buildings were also reported destroyed on 35th Street, between Interstate 359 and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. As the tornado traveled east to 35th Street and Kauloosa Avenue, the Tuscaloosa Environmental Services and Cintas facilities suffered severe damage. Numerous homes in the Rosedale and Forest Lake neighborhoods, as well as a P&P Grocery store in Rosedale, were devastated.

From Extreme Storms, check out this pic of an UPS truck, totally destroyed. The driver survived this horrific scene.

Courtesy of Extreme Storms. This UPS truck was destroyed in the Tuscaloosa tornado. The driver survived.

An aerial view of a Tuscaloosa neighborhood. Keep in mind that this destruction was just blocks from the home of the Crimson Tide football team. In the spirit of the University of Alabama, “Roll tide!”

A neighborhood in Tuscaloosa. As you can see, there's nothing left.

Also, Larry Posey, who posted pictures of the Leakesville, MS/Deer Park, AL tornado from the April 15th tornado outbreak, went out on his first storm chase and struck pay dirt when he caught the Tuscaloosa tornado on video after it hit the town. Here is the video of this tornado. A special thanks to him for getting this video. It’s rare to get a monster like this the first time out!! “Huge EF4 tornado just east of Tuscaloosa, AL”

Also confirmed this morning, (Friday, April 29th), University of Alabama confirms 8 students died in the tornado that hit Tuscaloosa on Wednesday. The tornado track through a neighborhood, where some students that attend the university, had lived.

An image that NASA captured from space of the path of the Tuscaloosa tornado. It’s rare that you can even see the path of tornadoes from space to begin with!

Courtesy of NASA. The path that the Tuscaloosa tornado is visible on this satellite image from space

More author’s notes (added 5/9/2011): A large wedge tornado tracked across Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, including the southern and eastern portions of Tuscaloosa around 5:10 p.m. CDT on April 27, and continued northeast. Debris from the tornado was reported to be falling from the sky across Birmingham over 20 miles away in Jefferson County. Skycams operated by local Fox affiliate WBRC (channel 6) and ABC affiliate WBMA-LP/WCFT/WJSU (channels 58, 33 and 40; branded as “ABC 33/40” with meteorologist James Spann highlighting the coverage) captured video of the tornado as it struck Tuscaloosa. Several stores and restaurants in a business district at the intersection of McFarland Boulevard and 15th Street, near the DCH Regional Medical Center, were destroyed by the tornado; buildings were also reported destroyed on 35th Street, between Interstate 359 and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. As the tornado traveled east to 35th Street and Kauloosa Avenue, the Tuscaloosa Environmental Services and Cintas facilities suffered severe damage. Numerous homes in the Rosedale and Forest Lake neighborhoods, as well as a P&P Grocery store in Rosedale, were devastated. The University of Alabama suspended its operations, cancelled its softball and rowing competitions, cancelled its final exams period, and postponed its commencement until August 6.

After hitting the city of Tuscaloosa, it hit the small town of Concord, where more devastation took place. After Concord, It went straight through the middle of Pleasant Grove killing over 75 residents. It destroyed everything in its path. It destroyed everything from Fanroad to Longmont, and in suburbs of Pleasant Grove. Coincidentally, that morning members of the Pleasant Grove High School Band left on their band trip to Orlando. That trip saved about 15 lives because of collapsing homes. Because they weren’t home, they are still alive.

Television cameras, including another skycam operated by WBMA-LP/WCFT/WJSU, captured the mile-wide tornado as it moved east-northeast across the western and northern suburbs of Birmingham around 6:00 p.m. CDT. Initial reports indicated significant structural damage and a mile to 1½ mile wide damage path.

The National Weather Service has determined the path length of this violent tornado to be 80.3 miles with a maximum damage path width of 1.5 miles; it has been preliminary classified as an EF-4 tornado with peak winds up to 190 mph. Initial reports from Tuscaloosa and Birmingham indicated at least 59 people were killed, with over 1000 injured in the Tuscaloosa area alone. This would make it the deadliest tornado in the United States since 1955, when a tornado killed 80 people in the town of Udall, Kansas. This makes it the deadliest single tornado ever to strike the state of Alabama. The number of fatalities may increase as recovery efforts and damage surveys continue. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visited Tuscaloosa on April 29, taking a ground tour of some of the affected areas. Obama was quoted as saying that he has “never seen devastation like this.” He stated further that he had already declared a federal state of emergency in Alabama.

As of the evening of May 2, 326 people still remained missing in Tuscaloosa. According to the Los Angeles Times, “no sooner are names stricken than fresh reports flow in to swell the list again.” May 3 reports indicated that throughout Tuscaloosa County, nearly 400 people were missing. Search and rescue efforts throughout the area continued with four cadaver dogs and 100 personnel combing the rubble. According to the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, eight others are missing elsewhere in the state. By May 5, the number of missing people in Tuscaloosa had decreased down to 12.

SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BIRMINGHAM AL
517 PM CDT WED APR 27 2011

ALC125-272245-
/O.CON.KBMX.TO.W.0109.000000T0000Z-110427T2245Z/
TUSCALOOSA AL-
517 PM CDT WED APR 27 2011

…A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR TUSCALOOSA COUNTY UNTIL
545 PM CDT…

…TORNADO EMERGENCY CONTINUES FOR BROOKWOOD AND ABERNANT…

AT 515 PM CDT…NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR AND STORM
SPOTTERS WERE TRACKING A LARGE AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO. THIS
TORNADO WAS LOCATED NEAR DEERLICK CREEK CAMPGROUNDS…OR 6 MILES EAST
OF HOLT…MOVING NORTHEAST AT 55 MPH.

THE TORNADO WILL BE NEAR…
WOODSTOCK JUNCTION AND 8 MILES NORTHWEST OF VANCE AROUND 525 PM
CDT.
ABERNANT…LAKE VIEW AND 8 MILES SOUTHEAST OF BULL CITY AROUND 530
PM CDT.

OTHER LOCATIONS IMPACTED BY THE TORNADO INCLUDE EAST BROOKWOOD AND
CAFFEE JUNCTION.

THIS INCLUDES…
INTERSTATE 20 EXIT NUMBERS 68 THROUGH 97…

ALC125-272245-
/O.CON.KBMX.TO.W.0109.000000T0000Z-110427T2245Z/
TUSCALOOSA AL-
458 PM CDT WED APR 27 2011

…A TORNADO WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR TUSCALOOSA COUNTY UNTIL
545 PM CDT…

…TORNADO EMERGENCY FOR RALPH…FOSTERS…INTERSTATE 20
59…TAYLORVILLE…AND TUSCALOOSA…

AT 451 PM CDT…NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR AND STORM
SPOTTERS WERE TRACKING A LARGE AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO. THIS
TORNADO WAS LOCATED NEAR JENA…OR 15 MILES SOUTHWEST OF NORTHPORT…
MOVING NORTHEAST AT 55 MPH.

THE TORNADO WILL BE NEAR…
BRYANT DENNY STADIUM…MCFARLAND MALL AND NORTHPORT AROUND 505 PM
CDT.
UNIVERSITY MALL…HOLT AND TUSCALOOSA AROUND 510 PM CDT.
DEERLICK CREEK CAMPGROUNDS…LAKE WILDWOOD AND COALING AROUND 515
PM CDT.
BROOKWOOD AROUND 520 PM CDT.

OTHER LOCATIONS IMPACTED BY THE TORNADO INCLUDE LITTLE SANDY…
FLATWOODS…ENGLEWOOD…TUSCALOOSA MUNICIPAL AIRPORT…OLIVER LOCK
AND DAM…PALMORE PARK…UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA QUAD…STILLMAN
COLLEGE…TAYLORVILLE AND LAKE TUSCALOOSA DAM.

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4 thoughts on “Tornado Emergency in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (4/27/2011); UPDATED (5/9/2011)

      1. Definitely. That is why I sent it to you. I went storm chasing for the first time ever and got this monster on video. What are the chances? I have had spotter training and wanted to know how to be safe before I went. I will be chasing more this summer. You can contact me privately by email. Please send links when you post them. Larry

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