Monday’s storm in Russellville classified as an EF-1 tornado

RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. – Shortly after daybreak Tuesday, crews were already beginning the clean-up process in Russellville; patching roofs and picking up debris.

Another team making their way through the debris was the National Weather Service. They began their tour three miles west of the city.

“We’re trying to see how many tornados it may have put down,” explained NWS Meteorologist Shelly Amin. “These storms are notorious to cycle. So, we had one definite track west of Russellville, now we are looking at a track right in Russellville. We haven’t been able to link those; we think it might have cycled somewhere in between.”

Shelly Amin, NWS

As the storm cell approached Russellville on Monday it looked quite ominous on radar. Amin says looking at the storm damage left behind their predictions were spot on.

City leaders in Russellville say it could have been much worse. They escaped major damage from the tornado which has been classified as an EF-1 by the National Weather Service.

“It (the sky) was a beautiful emerald-green color,” described resident Bryan Rogers. “Me and the guys, we almost didn’t get the doors shut in time because we were taking pictures of the sky.”

As Rogers swiped through his pictures from Monday – he still can’t believe it happened. He said he had gotten his family and his co-workers families into the basement of Easy Lube on U.S. 43 moments before the tornado hit.

“For about 60-seconds the building shook,” stated Rogers. “We heard a few loud bangs, which I’m assuming it was that roof coming off and some other stuff, and then it was over in about 60-seconds.”

Bryan Rogers

In 2011, Rogers was living and working in Hackleburg when an EF-5 hit there. He lost his home during that storm. As the walls were shaking on Monday, he couldn’t believe he was in another tornado.

“It was surreal. I actually verbally out loud when we were hunkered down in the basement yesterday; I looked at my wife and I said, 'Really?!' She laughed during the shaking, our kids were upset, but that literally came to mind and I was just like not again.”

Rogers is counting his blessings. He said he is not wanting to deal with another tornado.

Meteorologists with the NWS said residents of Franklin County paid attention to the forecast days before it hit.

“I don’t think we could have forecasted it any better,” said Amin. “Everyone heeded our warnings; everybody got what they needed to get done, done. They got home and took their safety precautions, and as far as we know we don’t have any injuries yet and that’s absolutely amazing.”

Amin said winds of around 100-miles per hour hit Russellville, an EF-1 tornado at its peak.

According to Franklin County Emergency Management officials, the majority of the damage they have seen were to businesses along Highway 43. The damage west of Russellville was to mostly standing timber.