On April 19th, 2009 a strong cold front tracked through the region leading to active weather. During the late afternoon and evening hours, storms began to fire up along the frontal boundary. Ahead of the mainline of storms, discrete supercells formed. It was these rotating supercells that produced tornadoes across the state. This tornado outbreak led to 14 injuries and one fatality.
Along with tornadoes, the severe storms produced large hail, locally heavy rainfall, and strong winds. Hailstones ranged from 0.75 to 2 inches in diameter. In Morgan County, strong winds caused two large trees to fall on a mobile home in Brooksville leading to a fatality.
Northern Alabama Tornadoes
In Northern Alabama, seven weak tornadoes touched down during the late afternoon and evening hours. Of these three were EF1 strength and four were EF0 strength. One supercell that tracked through portions of Lawrence and Morgan counties between 6 and 7 pm led to damage associated with straight-line winds. Some other impacts the area saw were locally heavy rainfall and large hail. Some of this large hail was the size of golf balls.
Above is a look at the tracks of three EF1 tornadoes that touched down in the Tennessee Valley. The first EF1 tornado touched down in Lawrence County in the late afternoon near the Moulton community. Along the nearly 4.5-mile long damage path structural and roof damage for found to buildings. One building that sustained significant damage was a concrete industrial facility, where the roof was a total loss. The second EF1 tornado touched down southwest of the Hammondville community in DeKalb County. Along the just over 5.5-mile long damaged path trees were uprooted or snapped in half. There were no reported injuries associated with the Lawrence County tornado but 13 individuals were injured in DeKalb County.
The strongest tornado to track through northern Alabama that day was an EF1 with peak winds estimated to be 110 mph. Winds associated with an EF1 tornado range from 86 to 110 mph, so this was a high-end EF1 that touched down in Marshall County. This brief tornado traveled three miles and produced damage south of the Asbury community. Along the path, trees were snapped, and several barns and outbuildings sustained damage. One individual lost their life when their mobile home was destroyed, and a second person in the home was injured.
Central Alabama Tornadoes
Storms that rolled through central Alabama continuously showed signs of rotation as they tracked eastward. Eleven tornadoes touched down that day with five EF0 strength, four EF1 strength, and two EF2 strength. Damage across this part of the state ranged from structures being completely destroyed to trees being uprooted. Before the strong line of storms pushed into Georgia, locally heavy rain and large hail were produced.
Above is a look at the damage path from the two EF2 tornadoes that touched down in central Alabama. The strongest EF2 tornado that day had peak winds of around 122 mph. This tornado touched down near the intersection of County Road 27 and Jones Chapel Road in Blount County. The tornado traveled 6.5 miles before lifting just east of County Road 24 in portions of St. Clair County. Along with this damage path, numerous structures were damaged, four of these were completely destroyed. Severe chicken houses were destroyed leading to nearly 100,000 chickens being displaced. Thankfully there were no reported fatalities or injuries associated with this tornado.
The second EF2 tornado to touch down had peak winds around 115 mph, tracking through Russell and Muscogee counties. Touching down southwest of Phenix City and traveled four miles before lifting near Columbus Georgia. Businesses sustained major damage, multiple homes sustained roof and structural damage, and trees were snapped or uprooted. Thankfully, even though many structures sustained damage there were no reported fatalities or injuries.
Severe Weather Season Stats
The first graphic above shows the total number of tornadoes per county in the state of Alabama from 1950 to 2020. The second graphic shows the number of tornadoes per county in northern Alabama from 1950-to 2021. Madison County has seen the most tornadoes with a total of 80 and Marshall county is second with 72. Typically the month of April is the most active for the Tennessee Valley, between 1950 and 2019 the area saw 166 tornadoes. Taking a look back to 2021, there were no records of tornadoes that touched down.
The weather this year has certainly been a rollercoaster ride so far! When it comes to severe weather, the Tennessee Valley has seen 7 tornadoes. Of the seven tornadoes, two were EF-1 strength and five were EF-0 strength. Thankfully, although we have seen multiple rounds of severe weather already this April, no tornadoes have touched down. The storm impacts we have seen so far this month are wind damage and hail.
When severe weather strikes you can count on the Weather Authority to keep you updated.