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Severe WX 1/24/21-1/26/21 Severe Event (Fultondale, AL) (2 Viewers)

Marshal79344

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Jason Simpson posted this on Facebook. I find this pretty incredible. I always thought the "tornado corridors" were likely random bad luck and might go away with longer historical documentation, but it's hard to deny these strong tornadoes keep rolling across the same areas. The 1998 Oak Grove tornado track ended a little south of the 2011 track, and if it had continued would have tracked into North Birmingham, just south of Fultondale. The 1977 Smithfield tornado crossed I-65 at the south end of Fultondale, and the 1956 McDonough Chapel tornado crossed into essentially the same area as well.

View attachment 5796
The Birmingham - Tuscaloosa Corridor is just a terrible hotspot for deadly tornadoes. The city itself has avoided much significant damage (minus 2011), but the areas both north and south of Birmingham and Tuscaloosa. get hit by intense-violent tornadoes at seemingly regular intervals. Seeing them have to suffer again just makes my heart hurt.
 

WesL

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A GoFundMe has been established for the teen that lost his life in the Fultondale storm. TalkWeather will make a contribution on behalf of our members but I'm sure they will appreciate any support that anyone can offer.

 

Richardjacks

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Don't forget the April 28, 2014 night outbreak spawned EF2s that went through Graysville and Bessemer and an EF1 near North Johns.

I've definitely become more convinced over time that there's something to the idea that local topographical influences can create micro-"Alleys" where tornadogenesis is favored should a supercell (or rotating QLCS) in an otherwise favorable environment pass through.

Southern side of Tuscaloosa to western/northern sides of Birmingham definitely seems to be one, as does Pickens County to the Cordova/Oakman/Jasper/Sumiton area and the track through Limestone County that includes Tanner. Also the Ragland-Ohatchee-north of Piedmont track (Palm Sunday 1994 and 4/27/11). In Mississippi, the Kemper/Neshoba/Noxubee/Winston County cluster seems to get hit hard at a disproportionate rate, and of course there's the cluster of significant tornadoes that have affected the Moore-Norman-Newcastle area in Oklahoma since 1998, while largely avoiding the area along and north of the Oklahoma River (of course, that begs the question, what localized topographical feature could there be in the Plains to contribute to that?).
I agree, history shows there is some kind of favoring condition for tornadoes. While the environment may set the stage for higher tornado probabilities, there seems to be some kind of local micro effect causing them to be stronger or at least more likely.
 

warneagle

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Has there been research on the relationship between topography and tornadic development/intensification, or mechanisms by which topography could influence those things? Seems like a thing that would be hard to test rigorously, but anecdotally it seems plausible.
 

Richardjacks

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Has there been research on the relationship between topography and tornadic development/intensification, or mechanisms by which topography could influence those things? Seems like a thing that would be hard to test rigorously, but anecdotally it seems plausible.
there has been some studies looking tornadoes and paths over different terrains and their strength. Also, I can remember several damage surveys mentioning strength changes over different terrains. For example, If I remember correctly, it seems more common that a tornado gains strength as it goes up hill, vs. down hill.
 

MattW

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If it helps, here's a good topographical map viewer, it says Atlanta, but you can scroll around to different areas just like Google Maps: https://en-us.topographic-map.com/maps/k68/Atlanta/ The height colors seem to be "normalized" so the lowest color is whatever the lowest elevation is that's within frame, and the highest color is the highest that's within frame.
 
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rolltide_130

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The Birmingham - Tuscaloosa Corridor is just a terrible hotspot for deadly tornadoes. The city itself has avoided much significant damage (minus 2011), but the areas both north and south of Birmingham and Tuscaloosa. get hit by intense-violent tornadoes at seemingly regular intervals. Seeing them have to suffer again just makes my heart hurt.

The southern side of the metro has historically been an area that has gotten hit multiple times as well (Hoover/Homewood etc.) - they've just lucked out relatively recently but they are due for a major strike and they have historical precedent for that as well.
 

Equus

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So a tornado on the threshold of violent in an area not even in the marginal until midafternoon... truly scary

day1probotlk_v_20210125_1200_torn_prt.gif
 

Equus

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Haven't been able to find the exact point to suggest the increase but it wouldn't be too shocking; that said the Shottsville portion of the Smithville tornado on 4/27 was tagged 170 in the toolkit but remained EF3 in storm data so I'm interested to see if BMX bumps it up in a statement or the survey page or leaves it at 150
 
Offhand I can't think of any violent tornadoes tracking through the Birmingham metro south of that typical corridor across West Jefferson County to approximately Fultondale/Tarrant in any recent decades. I need to go look up the actual data, though. We always seem to luck out in my area of Blount County, as we are north of the Tuscaloosa-West Jefferson track and south of the Walker to Cullman track. However, the Cordova evening EF-4 on 4/27/11 did cross I-65 just a hair north of my area. It was EF-2 intensity at that point, though. I drive north on I-65 through Cullman County for work and pass that track, plus two near Dodge City/Hanceville (one from 4/27 and the other recent) and the 4/27 track of the Cullman tornado (not noticeable anymore, really).
 

Fred Gossage

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Offhand I can't think of any violent tornadoes tracking through the Birmingham metro south of that typical corridor across West Jefferson County to approximately Fultondale/Tarrant in any recent decades. I need to go look up the actual data, though. We always seem to luck out in my area of Blount County, as we are north of the Tuscaloosa-West Jefferson track and south of the Walker to Cullman track. However, the Cordova evening EF-4 on 4/27/11 did cross I-65 just a hair north of my area. It was EF-2 intensity at that point, though. I drive north on I-65 through Cullman County for work and pass that track, plus two near Dodge City/Hanceville (one from 4/27 and the other recent) and the 4/27 track of the Cullman tornado (not noticeable anymore, really).
March 5, 1963 an F4 tornado tracked from Bessemer to Homewood to Mountain Brook. https://www.alabamawx.com/?p=41564 Alabama NWS Tornado Database says it is an F4, despite that blog post listing it as F3. https://www.weather.gov/bmx/tornadodb_1963

That's the only instance I can find since 1950 of a violent tornado in Jefferson County but south of downtown Birmingham.
 
March 5, 1963 an F4 tornado tracked from Bessemer to Homewood to Mountain Brook. https://www.alabamawx.com/?p=41564 Alabama NWS Tornado Database says it is an F4, despite that blog post listing it as F3. https://www.weather.gov/bmx/tornadodb_1963

That's the only instance I can find since 1950 of a violent tornado in Jefferson County but south of downtown Birmingham.
I do remember reading about that one. A tornado on that track today would be a terrible disaster for sure.
 
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Jason Simpson posted this on Facebook. I find this pretty incredible. I always thought the "tornado corridors" were likely random bad luck and might go away with longer historical documentation, but it's hard to deny these strong tornadoes keep rolling across the same areas. The 1998 Oak Grove tornado track ended a little south of the 2011 track, and if it had continued would have tracked into North Birmingham, just south of Fultondale. The 1977 Smithfield tornado crossed I-65 at the south end of Fultondale, and the 1956 McDonough Chapel tornado crossed into essentially the same area as well.

View attachment 5796

A post of mine from another thread:

The thing I've noticed is that it's specifically the section of northwestern Alabama from Marion and Lamar Counties to Limestone and Madison Counties that seems to be a highway for long-tracked, rain-wrapped and fast moving F/EF4 to F/EF5 tornadoes. These tornadoes also have a tendency to cross into far southern Tennessee (Lincoln and Franklin County, specifically) before dissipating. It must be the perfect balance of geography, climate, local topography, dew points and atmospheric instability.

Also, Sand Mountain in NE Alabama is apparently one of those geographical features that can actually enhance tornado formation. Check out this study on the effects of terrain on the formation and intensity of tornadoes:


Abstract: An Observational Analysis of Potential Terrain Influences on Tornado Behavior (27th Conference on Severe Local Storms)

Source (my post): https://talkweather.com/threads/significant-tornado-events.1276/page-65#post-49430
 
I rode through Fultondale today along Carson Road where it would have been at or close to its strongest. I didn't actually go into any of the neighborhoods (even if I had tried, it appears that no one except those working or those who live there can get in). It's very bad. There are a lot of older homes through there, and most of them were just various piles of rubble. The tree damage is extreme. It definitely had that "bomb went off here" look.
 
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Marshal79344

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March 5, 1963 an F4 tornado tracked from Bessemer to Homewood to Mountain Brook. https://www.alabamawx.com/?p=41564 Alabama NWS Tornado Database says it is an F4, despite that blog post listing it as F3. https://www.weather.gov/bmx/tornadodb_1963

That's the only instance I can find since 1950 of a violent tornado in Jefferson County but south of downtown Birmingham.
I know one of the tornadoes from the Enigma Outbreak on February 19, 1884 started south of Birmingham and hit the Leeds, AL area too. It was rated F4 by Grazulis.
 
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I know one of the tornadoes from the Enigma Outbreak on February 19, 1884 started south of Birmingham and hit the Leeds, AL area too. It was rated F4 by Grazulis.
Another tornado from 1884 Enigma followed a path that was extremely close to the Piedmont, AL 1994 tornado. Also, the 1977 Smithfield tornado tracked through the northern suburbs of Birmingham. It's crazy.
 

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