Saturday, February 16, 2008

Jackson County, Alabama EF4 tornado


I have already posted several times about the Super Tuesday Tornado outbreak. The scope of this outbreak was huge, and I could write so much more if I had time. So far I have posted extensively about the EF4 tornado in Lawrence County. I also posted about a minimal EF0 tornado that struck Cullman County, Alabama. There are numerous other tornadoes that struck Alabama during the early morning hours of February 6. I will take a look at the EF4 tornado that struck Jackson County in NE Alabama, near the Georgia border. The image to the left is a map of the tornado track by the Huntsville NWS.

The National Weather Service in Huntsville has completed a storm survey and rated this tornado as an EF4. One person died in this tornado. It was the second EF4 in Alabama during the Super Tuesday outbreak. At it's peak, it may have been slightly stronger than the Lawrence County EF4, but it's path lenghth was shorter. The NWS estimated its top winds at 180 miles per hour.It traveled 10.9 miles and was 3/8ths of a mile wide at it's widest point. Originally this tornado was rated an EF3 but the NWS sent in its QRT, or Quick Response Team, which is a group of about 20 meteorologists both in and out of the NWS who have sufficient storm damage survey experience to rate a tornado suspected to be in the EF4 or EF5 category. Brian Peters of ABC 33/40 is a memeber of this team which increased this storm's rating to EF4. To the left is the reflectivity image I saved while watching the weather on Gibson Ridge software at 5:25 a.m.

Brian said that he saw things in this tornado damage and the damage in Lawrence County that he had never seen before in 40 years of participating in storm surveys. He posted pictures here and said, "the black vehicle shown upside down was thrown in an arc a distance of approximately 450 feet with a number of gouge marks in the field to show the path of travel. At least five or six houses were swept off their locations. The debris from the bedroom of one home traveled at least 300 feet - perhaps more. A large section of a chicken house collapsed and shifted with a large number of chickens killed. Those large hay bales weighing 2,500 according to estimates by the people there were tossed about like dice - and several of them were blown apart. One of the houses destroyed was described as a two story house which was crumbled like a playhouse with debris scattered across a small stream."

The worst damage occurred at the corner of County Roads 60 and 177, between the Rosalie and Pisgah communities in eastern Jackson County. This is also approximately the location where the fatality occurred. To the left is the NEXRAD velocity image I saved while watching the weather on Gibson Ridge software at 5:25 a.m.

This tornado was spawned by the same mesocyclone that produced an EF0 tornado in Cullman County and an EF1 tornado in Marshall County. Click here to see a loop of the velocity images of this storm from the Hytop NEXRAD. The images begin at 342 AM CST and end at about 538 AM CST. The velocity couplet is very clear in the areas where the three tornadoes occurred and especially in the southern Jackson County storm.

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Video from WAFF 48 in Huntsville of the Feb. 6 severe weather coverage.

Video from WHNT 19 in Huntsville of Governor Riley's press conference.

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