Joe Wheeler State Park closed until further notice after extensive tornado damage

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ROGERSVILLE, Ala. — Joe Wheeler State Park officials closed the park until further notice after it suffered extensive storm damage from a tornado that moved through the area Monday.

According to a post on the park’s Facebook page, the day-use area and half of the campground was severely damaged. Downed trees destroyed bathhouses and damaged travel trailers. No injuries were reported.

There are plans to open the park once power is restored for the Lodge, Marina, Cottage and Golf Course if no further damage is found.

All phone lines are down, but you can call the cabin office at 256-685-2656 for guest information.

The National Weather Service in Huntsville states that an EF-1 tornado moved through the area, producing maximum sustained winds of 110 mph and a damage path that spanned 2.9 miles.

Below is additional information from the National Weather Service damage survey.

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HUNTSVILLE AL
355 PM CST THU DEC 19 2019

...NWS DAMAGE SURVEY FOR 12/16/2019 TORNADO EVENT - UPDATE #4... 

.UPDATE...ADDED TWO TORNADOES TO THE LIST, ONE AT JOE WHEELER
STATE PARK, AND ANOTHER IN LIMESTONE COUNTY. AN UPDATE WAS MADE 
TO THE TOWN CREEK TORNADO TO EXTEND IT INTO LIMESTONE COUNTY. THIS
BRINGS THE TORNADO TOTAL TO 6 FOR THIS EVENT, SO FAR. ADDITIONAL 
SURVEYS ARE STILL POSSIBLE.

.JOE WHEELER STATE PARK TORNADO...

RATING:                   EF-1
ESTIMATED PEAK WIND:      110 MPH
PATH LENGTH /STATUTE/:    2.9 MILES
PATH WIDTH /MAXIMUM/:     500 YARDS
FATALITIES:               0
INJURIES:                 0

START DATE:               12/16/2019
START TIME:               05:20 PM CST
START LOCATION:           JOE WHEELER STATE PARK / LAUDERDALE COUNTY / AL
START LAT/LON:            34.8017 / -87.3322

END DATE:                 12/16/2019
END TIME:                 05:24 PM CST
END LOCATION:             1 MI S OF ROGERSVILLE / LAUDERDALE COUNTY / AL
END LAT/LON:              34.8064 / -87.2809

SURVEY SUMMARY: 
AT APPROXIMATELY 5:20 PM CST, AN EF-1 TORNADO FORMED NEAR THE 
BORDER OF JOE WHEELER STATE PARK AND THE TENNESSEE RIVER. ALMOST 
IMMEDIATELY, A LARGE SWATH OF TREES WERE EITHER SNAPPED OR 
UPROOTED. BOTH HARDWOOD AND SOFTWOOD TREES WERE TOPPLED, THEREFORE
LEADING TO A RATING OF HIGH-END EF-1. PARK OFFICIALS ESTIMATE 
THOUSANDS OF TREES FELL AS A RESULT OF THIS TORNADO. THE PEAK 
WIDTH WAS 500 YARDS, WITH EVIDENCE OF MULTIPLE VORTICES PRESENT 
BOTH TO THE EAST AND WEST OF THE BAY. THERE WERE MULTIPLE SWATHS 
OF CONVERGENT TREE DAMAGE, AS WELL AS GAPS OF STANDING TREES IN 
BETWEEN THESE SWATHS. IT IS WORTH NOTING THAT SEVERAL STRUCTURES 
REMAINED STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF THESE SWATHS AND ALL DAMAGE TO 
THOSE STRUCTURES WAS THE RESULT OF FALLING TREES.

CONTINUOUS TREE DAMAGE WAS OBSERVED ACROSS THE REMAINDER OF JOE 
WHEELER STATE PARK. SPORADIC DAMAGE WAS THEN NOTED WITH TREES 
ALONG MCLEAN DRIVE, ACROSS LOVER'S LANE, AND OVER TO BRADEN COVE 
WHERE AN RV WAS TOPPLED, SEVERAL HOUSES HAD MINOR ROOF DAMAGE, AND
A FEW TREES WERE SNAPPED. THE TORNADO THEN SHRANK CONSIDERABLY 
AND UPROOTED A FEW PINE TREES AND THEN LIFTED JUST EAST OF TIPTON 
ROAD AT 5:24 PM CST.

THANKS TO LAUDERDALE COUNTY EMA AND JOE WHEELER STATE PARK 
ADMINISTRATION FOR THEIR ASSISTANCE IN COMPLETING THIS SURVEY.

CARCIONE/MAGEE/LYBRAND

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