|Photo by Crandall McKey, via NWS Huntsville|
To see storm survey data, photos, storm reports, maps, and other data from this event, vistit the NWS Huntsville page here: National Weather Service Huntsville Storm Survey
In 1995, I followed the Anderson Hills tornado through Limestone County. I was one of the first on the scene of a major disaster at a trailer park northeast of Athens. I remember carrying a man out on a door who was bleeding from his neck and chest as I left the scene.
The Anderson Hills Tornado struck Huntsville, Alabama on May 18, 1995, killing one person and causing extensive damage and devastation, including the destruction of the Anderson Hills subdivision. It was rated an F4 when it made a direct hit on the subdivision. The tornado touched down just northwest of Athens. It tracked from that point through eastern Limestone County, through Harvest, Meridianville, and New Market in northern Madison County, Alabama, and ended near Princeton in northwest Jackson County, Alabama. The strongest portion of the tornado's path was near Harvest in northwest Madison County around the Anderson Hills subdivision and the Huntsville Dragway, which is the reason it is usually referred to as the "Anderson Hills Tornado".
|Birmingham NEXRAD, 5:32 p.m., one minute before touch down.|
|Birmingham NEXRAD, 5:42 p.m., when Madison County Warning was issued|
WFUS1 KHSV 182241
BULLETIN - EBS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HUNTSVILLE AL
542 PM CDT THU MAY 18 1995
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN HUNTSVILLE HAS ISSUED A
TORNADO WARNING EFFECTIVE UNTIL 645 PM CDT
FOR PEOPLE IN THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS...
IN NORTH ALABAMA
AT 535 PM CDT RADAR AT THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE OFFICE IN HUNSVILLE
INDICATED A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM OVER WESTERN LIMESTONE COUNTY NEAR ELKMONT.
THIS STORM IS MOVING TO THE EAST AT AROUND 40 MILES PER HOUR.
...POSSIBLE FUNNEL CLOUDS SITED NORTH OF ATHENS IN LIMESTONE COUNTY.
The tornado crossed into Madison County around 5:50 p.m. on Love Branch Road, just north of the Yarborough Road intersection. It continued an east-northeasterly path across Carroll Road, Old Railroad Bed Road, and Wall Triana Highway, crossing just south of Harvest Elementary School. At 5:52 p.m., Madison County Fire dispatch reported that the tornado was on the ground near Harvest. It crossed Fords Chapel Road before taking a direct hit on the Anderson Hills subdivision along Alabama Highway 53. At this point, the tornado was at F4 intensity and the subsequent survey would also reveal evidence of it having multiple vortices. A total of 39 well-constructed houses in the subdivision sustained major damage, and 21 were destroyed. The Piggly Wiggly along Highway 53 also received damage. At 5:54 p.m., the Madison County Sheriff's Department confirmed the tornado had crossed Old Railroad Bed Road and Alabama Highway 53. As a result of these reports, tornado sirens were reactivated in Madison County one minute later. The tornado continued east-northeast making a glancing blow to the Huntsville Dragway before crossing Quarter Mountain Road and Bollweevil Lane on the northern face of Quarter Mountain. Next it crossed Hammond Lane (where is caused major damage to a few two story brick homes), Beaver Dam Road, Beaverdam Creek, and Pulaski Pike. It moved over Beaverdam Creek a second time at Mount Lebanon Road as it moved into the Meridianville area, then across Patterson Lane. Shortly after 6:00 p.m., the tornado crossed U.S. Highway 231/431 at Steger Curve - around Brier Fork bridge. Here, substantial damage was done to a cotton gin and a large farm house was spun off its foundation.
Video showing regional radar loop:
WHNT News 19 Huntsville report on how one family survived:
WHNT News 19