Between April 28th and 29th in 2014 destructive storms tracked through the Tennessee Valley. During the late afternoon and evening hours of the 28th, rotating supercells ripped through the region. A strong storm system pushed through the region helping to ignite these storms. The combination of deep moisture, an unstable air mass, wind shear, and lift supported the development of strong supercell thunderstorms. On the 29th, the second round of rainfall pushed through the region. During this round of storms, the Tennessee Valley experienced heavy rainfall and damaging winds.
For the state of Alabama, at the point of this event, this was the largest tornado outbreak since the destructive tornado outbreak of 2011. For the Tennessee Valley, this severe weather event produced all modes of severe weather. Rainfall totals during the 48-hour period showed rain totals over four inches in some locations. Above is a map that shows rainfall totals for our region, the highest totals were across portions of Jackson, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, and counties in southern middle Tennessee. On top of the flash flood and large hail reports, a total of 13 tornadoes touched down; four of which were an EF3 strength.
One of the strongest tornadoes to touch down in northern Alabama that day was an EF3 tornado in Limestone county. The tornado touched down over Wheeler Lake and then rapidly intensified as it moved through the county. Where the tornado touched down, significant damage occurred to a metal structure at the Bay Hill Marina. Peak winds associated with this tornado were estimated to be between 120 and 140 mph and occurred near the Bay Hill Marina where many trees were uprooted, the above-mentioned metal structure sustained damage, along with this additional residences experienced roof and exterior damage.
This tornado was on the ground for nearly 30 minutes and produced a damaged path 15.5 miles along. As the tornado continued to move towards the northeast, it continued producing damage to the Coxey community before lifting north of Athens. Unfortunately, two individuals lost their lives and thirty others were injured.
A second EF3 tornado moved through northern Alabama touching down in Etowah county and then moving northeastward into DeKalb. The tornado touched down near the Liberty Hill community and was on the ground for 15 minutes before lifting southeast of the Crossville community. Peak winds were estimated to be between 136 and 155 mph. The peak intensity occurred near the Liberty Hill community where homes sustained significant damage to their structure and roofing.
As the tornado crossed over the county line into DeKalb county, it weakened to a strong EF2 tornado. Even though it weakened a little, the strong EF2 tornado still was able to produce significant damage. Where the tornado crossed the county line, a manufactured home was completely destroyed. Along the damage path, homes sustained significant roofing and structural damage.
In southern middle, Tennessee two tornadoes touched down in Lincoln County. The strongest tornado was an EF3 tornado that touched down west of the Lincoln community and lifted in Moore County. The tornado was on the ground for over 20 minutes and produced a nearly 21-mile damage path. Three homes in one community were completely destroyed, with one only having a few interior walls left. At the south Lincoln Elementary School, the tornado ripped the roof off and dragged a tornado of 75 yards. Numerous other homes sustained roof damage and trees were uprooted or snapped. Although there were no injuries associated with this tornado there were two fatalities.
For more information on the tornadoes that touched down in Central Alabama, visit the National Weather Service in Birmingham’s Office page.