A Look Back at the 1989 Airport Road Tornado

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Today marks the 23rd anniversary of the 1989 Airport Road tornado, one of the deadliest tornadoes in Huntsville’s history.  The tornado touched down southwest of Huntsville and tracked northeast causing heavy damage along Airport Road and the Jones Valley area.

After the damage was assessed, the tornado was rated an F4.  It killed 21 people, injured 463 and caused approximately $250 million in damage. Below is a more detailed description of the tornado’s path, courtesy of the National Weather Service in Huntsville:

“Around 4:30 pm on Wednesday, November 15, 1989, a tornado touched down near Madkin Mountain on Redstone Arsenal, southwest of Huntsville. The tornado moved northeast towards the heavily-populated Airport Road area, where it would destroy or damage 80 businesses, 3 churches, a dozen apartment buildings, and more than 1,000 cars. It moved on, climbing over Garth Mountain, demolishing Jones Valley Elementary School, and destroying 259 homes in the Jones Valley area. The tornado then moved out into eastern Madison County, where it damaged the equipment and maintenance headquarters of Commission District 2 as well as a state forestry office, destroyed 3 more homes, a volunteer fire department, several barns and sheds, and numerous electrical towers.”

Below shows the path the devastating tornado took.

Below is an aerial photograph showing some of the damage that occurred. The road going diagonally from lower right to top middle is Airport Road.

Below is a picture of portions of the Waterford Square Apartment Complex that were completely destroyed by the tornado.

- Jennifer Watson

Twitter: @JWatson_Wx

Facebook: Jennifer Watson WHNT