A similar storm, but a very different story

I posted last week about the high risk of severe weather that turned into a couple of long track supercells that fortunately avoided major population centers. Today, we weren’t as lucky.

There were a few tornadic storms, but one storm in particular will be remembered for a long time. Here are the storms that have been reported today, most notably a long track, large tornado that trekked from West Blocton, Alabama to Pelham, through the south side of Birmingham, and on to Ohatchee, where 5 people lost their lives, before the rotation fell apart just inside the Georgia state line.

This storm was strong enough that is showed up very evidently on radar. Note the red dot in the bottom left display, near Meadowbrook. The storm had crossed I-65 and was currently within a tornado emergency, suggesting a confirmed, large tornado in a populous area.

That pink triangle in the four displays reflects the rotation well. Remarkably, this tornado was on it’s way toward a subdivision where local meteorologist James Spann lives. He found out on air that his home suffered heavy damage as tornado passed nearby.

There were other tornadoes that cropped up throughout the afternoon in several states, including Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia. In fact, as this post was coming together, another tornado emergency was issued south of Atlanta, as a large tornado was moving through the town of Newman.

There are already reports of structural damage, and I suspect it will be much worse in the morning. The storm did dissipate before it reached Fayetteville, Georgia, but Tyrone and Peachtree City almost certainly received damage as well. The tornado moved through after midnight, local time, so many residents were probably caught unaware.

In comparing today’s storms to those of St. Patrick’s Day, the biggest change was the tornados’ ability to hit population centers. There were a couple of more individual storms, and the tornadoes will likely be measured as being stronger, but when it comes down to it, today, we were unlucky.

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