OPELIKA, Ala. -- Severe storms moved into east-central and southern Alabama as well as west-central Georgia Saturday afternoon, producing large hail and a tornado that touched down near Opelika in Lee County, Alabama.
A severe thunderstorm watch went into effect for the area at 4:45pm CDT Saturday. Thunderstorms produced large hail (1 inch in diameter to 3 inches in diameter) from Cleburne County south into Lee County.
A tornado warning was issued at 5:48pm CDT for Lee County as doppler radar indicated rotation over Opelika.
Visual reports of the tornado as well as its damage began appearing on social media shortly thereafter.
Diana Ridley was about to leave her aunt's home to go to work when the storm hit.
"I was borrowing my cousin's truck and that was the one you see with the tree on it. I was about to leave for work and then I heard the siren. And maybe about two or three mins later, I saw a bunch of leaves flying around."
The National Weather Service in Birmingham states that an EF-0 tornado with peak winds of 85 mph moved through Lee County. Below is the report from their storm damage survey that took place on Sunday afternoon.
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BIRMINGHAM AL 450 PM CDT SUN JUL 22 2018 ...NWS DAMAGE SURVEY FOR JULY 21, 2018 TORNADO EVENT... A RARE SUMMERTIME ALABAMA TORNADO OCCURRED DURING THE LATE-AFTERNOON HOURS OF JULY 21, 2018 IN CENTRAL LEE COUNTY. A SOUTHEASTWARD-MOVING THUNDERSTORM FED OFF A PRIMED ATMOSPHERE, CHARACTERIZED BY STRONG INSTABILITY AND WIND SHEAR, WITH A FEW SURFACE BOUNDARIES ACROSS EAST ALABAMA. THE STORM INTERACTED WITH AND INGESTED AN OUTFLOW BOUNDARY, AIDING IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF A TORNADO. .OPELIKA-BEAUREGARD TORNADO (LEE COUNTY)... RATING: EF-0 ESTIMATED PEAK WIND: 85 MPH PATH LENGTH (STATUTE): 6.3 MILES PATH WIDTH (MAXIMUM): 500 YARDS FATALITIES: 0 INJURIES: 0 START DATE: JULY 21, 2018 START TIME: 543 PM CDT START LOCATION: 1 SE OPELIKA / LEE / AL START LAT/LON: 32.6488/-85.3701 END DATE: JULY 21, 2018 END TIME: 601 PM CDT END LOCATION: 2 NNE BEAUREGARD / LEE / AL END LAT/LON: 32.5663/-85.3609 NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS SURVEYED DAMAGE IN CENTRAL LEE COUNTY AND DETERMINED THAT IT WAS CONSISTENT WITH AN EF-0 TORNADO. THE TORNADO FORMED NEAR SOUTH 3RD STREET ON THE EAST SIDE OF OPELIKA, WHERE LIGHT TREE DAMAGE WAS NOTED. AS THE TORNADO MOVED SOUTHEAST, THERE WAS AN INCREASED NUMBER OF UPROOTED TREES, THOUGH NO STRUCTURAL DAMAGE TO THE SURROUNDING HOMES. AS THE TORNADO NEARED I-85, SOME SHINGLES WERE BLOWN OFF VARIOUS UNITS OF AN APARTMENT COMPLEX. THE DENSITY AND EXTENT OF VEGETATIVE DAMAGE RAMPED UP SOUTH OF I-85, NEAR/JUST NORTH OF CHEWACLA ROAD WHERE NUMEROUS TREE WERE UPROOTED WITH A FEW SNAPPED TREES. A NEARBY HOME SUSTAINED DAMAGE FROM FALLING BRANCHES AND A TREE, BUT NOT FROM THE WIND ITSELF. THE TORNADO THEN TURNED MORE SOUTHERLY, PRODUCING ADDITIONAL SWATHS OF TREE DAMAGE. AGAIN, STRUCTURES (20-30) SUFFERED DAMAGE FROM FALLEN LARGE BRANCHES AND TREES VERSUS THE WIND ITSELF. A FEW CARS WERE CRUSHED BY FALLEN TREES. ONE CAMPER WAS ROLLED ONTO ITS SIDE. THE TORNADO ENDED ALONG MOORES MILL ROAD. EF SCALE: THE ENHANCED FUJITA SCALE CLASSIFIES TORNADOES INTO THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES. EF0...WEAK......65 TO 85 MPH EF1...WEAK......86 TO 110 MPH EF2...STRONG....111 TO 135 MPH EF3...STRONG....136 TO 165 MPH EF4...VIOLENT...166 TO 200 MPH EF5...VIOLENT...>200 MPH NOTE: THE INFORMATION IN THIS STATEMENT IS PRELIMINARY AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE PENDING FINAL REVIEW OF THE EVENT AND PUBLICATION IN NWS STORM DATA.