The three tornadoes, along with strong straight-line winds, claimed the lives of 14 people in St. Clair County. The strength of the tornadoes that moved across the county Wednesday included an EF-4, EF-2 and EF-0 tornado.
One tornado touched down in the Odenville area Wednesday morning, while two tornadoes touched down in other areas Wednesday night.
The two tornadoes that struck St. Clair County Wednesday night included an EF-4 that rolled through Shoal Creek Valley killing 12 people, and an EF-0 that briefly touched ground and did minimal damage in Riverside.
Jessica Talley, a meteorologist for the NWS in Birmingham, said Tuesday that last week’s early morning storm that caused damage in Pell City, Riverside and Ragland was attributed to powerful straight-line winds and not a tornado. The Wednesday morning storms claimed the lives of two women, one in Pell City and one in Moody.
According to the NWS in Birmingham, meteorologists surveyed damage in Riverside and found evidence of a “brief EF-0 tornado east of Pell City” along Interstate 20 at the 162 exit. The tornado touched the ground at about 7:55 p.m. Wednesday, and the event was over four minutes later. The tornado’s path of destruction was 50 yards wide and 2.3 miles long.
“The tornado touched down about 100 yards south of the interstate,” the NWS preliminary storm damage assessment states.
The tornado “moved across the interstate and then lifted along U.S. 78. There were several trees blown down or snapped off at the top,” according to the assessment. “Wind speeds with this brief, weak tornado were estimated to be near 80 mph.”
According to the NWS preliminary storm assessment, the EF-4 tornado that struck Shoal Creek Valley was on the ground for almost an hour-and-a-half and continued its track from eastern Jefferson County to Cherokee County, and continued into neighboring Georgia.
The EF-4 tornado packed winds up to 160 mph, and left a path of destruction one-and-one-quarter miles wide.
“The tornado touched down near Argo … between Deerfoot Parkway and Advent Road, just north of Interstate 59,” the assessment states. “The tornado then moved east across the interstate into St. Clair County. The tornado caused EF-0 to EF-1 damage as it tracked near Margaret and north of Odenville. Just northeast of Odenville, the tornado strengthened and widened considerably. The tornado then moved east-northeast along St. Clair County 22 through Shoal Creek. Damage all along St. Clair County 22 was extensive. Several homes had almost all walls blown out … and one roughly 40-year-old home was completely leveled. The path continued east-northeast across Neely Henry Lake into Calhoun County.”
The third tornado tracked by the NWS in Birmingham touched down at 6:14 a.m. Wednesday near Odenville.
“Although much of the damage across St. Clair County Wednesday morning was attributed to straight-line winds, it has been determined that in a small area near Odenville the damage was consistent with a strong tornado,” the assessment states. “Max winds were estimated up to 120 mph. The tornado touched down in a field just southeast of the intersection of Alabama 174 and Isbell Road. From there it quickly strengthened to EF-2 intensity and struck two multi-story brick homes.
“One house lost a large portion of its roof deck material,” the assessment states. “The well-built detached garage of the other house was shifted off its foundation with the intact roof landing and squashing the remaining structure. The tornado continued northeast before lifting near the intersection of Pleasant Valley Road and Cedar Road, where a few trees were blown down.”
The EF-2 tornado reached peak winds up to 120 mph and carved a storm damage path 200 yards wide. The tornado event only lasted four minutes but left a path of destruction almost four miles long.
Contact David Atchison at email@example.com.