Closings & Delays across the Tennessee Valley

EF-0 tornado touched down in Opelika, Alabama Saturday; large hail falls in eastern Alabama and western Georgia

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.