Thursday, November 12, 2009

..20 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF DEVASTATING HUNTSVILLE F4 TORNADO

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT…CORRECTED
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HUNTSVILLE AL
800 AM CST THU NOV 12 2009

..20 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF DEVASTATING HUNTSVILLE F4 TORNADO

THIS SUNDAY /NOVEMBER 15TH/ MARKS 20 YEARS SINCE A DESTRUCTIVE
TORNADO RIPPED ACROSS AIRPORT ROAD AND OTHER PARTS OF SOUTHEAST
HUNTSVILLE…KILLING 21 PEOPLE AND INJURING 463.

AT APPROXIMATELY 4:37 PM CST ON NOVEMBER 15 1989…POWERFUL WINDS
ASSOCIATED WITH THE TORNADO INITIALLY HIT THE CITY’S NEW
GARBAGE-BURNING STEAM PLANT JUST OFF TRIANA BOULEVARD. THE TORNADO
THEN SMASHED INTO THE MUNICIPAL GOLF COURSE JUST WEST OF THE
MEMORIAL PARKWAY AND AIRPORT ROAD INTERSECTION. THE FIRST CONFIRMED
REPORT OF THE TORNADO CAME AT THIS LOCATION. THE MOST DESTRUCTIVE
DAMAGE OCCURRED ALONG A MILE-LONG WEST-TO-EAST PATH LINING AIRPORT
ROAD WHERE SHOPPING CENTERS…CHURCHES…SCHOOLS…RESTAURANTS AND
NUMEROUS APARTMENT COMPLEXES WERE HEAVILY DAMAGED TO COMPLETELY
DESTROYED.

LOCATIONS THAT SUSTAINED SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE INCLUDE:
* WATERFORD SQUARE APARTMENTS
* CRESTWOOD HOSPITAL
* WESTBURY PLAZA SHOPPING CENTER
* VILLAGE ON WHITESBURG
* WHITESBURG CENTER
* HOLY SPIRIT CATHOLIC CHURCH

MOVING EAST…THE TORNADO ROARED UP GARTH MOUNTAIN OVERLOOKING
WHITESBURG DRIVE…FOLLOWING IN ITS CLIMB THE NEWLY OPENED CARL T
JONES DRIVE. HEADING INTO THE WOODS…THE TORNADO SNAPPED TVA POWER
POLES AND TALL TREES LIKE TOOTHPICKS. ACROSS THE MOUNTAIN LAY JONES
VALLEY ELEMENTARY WHERE 37 STUDENTS REMAINED AFTER SCHOOL IN AN
EXTENDED-DAY PROGRAM. THE TORNADO SLAMMED INTO THE SCHOOL REDUCING
THE STRUCTURE TO RUBBLE IN A MATTER OF SECONDS…WITH SUPPLIES LATER
FOUND AS FAR AWAY AS SOUTHERN TENNESSEE. INCREDIBLY…ALL OF THE
STUDENTS/TEACHERS AND STAFF WOULD SURVIVE.

MOST EYE-WITNESSES DESCRIBED A WALL OF DARKNESS…WIND AND RAIN THAT
DESCENDED ON THE CITY LIKE A QUICKLY DRAWN CURTAIN. WINDS WERE SO
INTENSE THAT A WOODEN SPLINTER WAS FOUND EMBEDDED IN THE CONCRETE
WALL OF ONE CHURCH SANCTUARY.

THE TORNADO REMAINED ON THE GROUND FOR 16 MILES ACROSS MADISON
COUNTY WITH THE STRONGEST WINDS ESTIMATED IN EXCESS OF 200 MPH. THE
DAMAGE SWATH WAS AT ITS WIDEST /AROUND A HALF-MILE/ ALONG AIRPORT
ROAD. THE STORM SYSTEM RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS TORNADO WOULD CAUSE A
QUARTER-OF-A-BILLION DOLLARS IN DAMAGE TO 16 STATES…WITH NEARLY
50 MILLION OF THAT AMOUNT IN MADISON COUNTY ALONE.

DAMAGE STATISTICS:
* 259 HOMES DESTROYED
* 1000 CARS DESTROYED (ADDITIONAL 2000 IN MORGAN COUNTY DUE TO HAIL)
* 80 BUSINESSES DESTROYED
* 240 MILES OF POWER LINES KNOCKED DOWN (ACCORDING TO TVA)
* 60 POWER STRUCTURES LOST (ACCORDING TO TVA)
* 432 ACRES OF TREES DESTROYED OR DAMAGED (BASED ON AERIAL SURVEY)

NOTE: INFORMATION AND STATISTICS TAKEN FROM “A DIARY OF DESTRUCTION”
ON THE (1989) HUNTSVILLE TORNADO — PRODUCED BY THE HUNTSVILLE
TIMES/HUNTSVILLE NEWS AND FROM THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SOUTHERN
REGION NATURAL DISASTER SURVEY REPORT PUBLISHED JULY 1990.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE 1989 HUNTSVILLE TORNADO…VISIT
THE HUNTSVILLE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WEBPAGE AT:
HTTP://WEATHER.GOV/HUNTSVILLE (ALL LOWER CASE)

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