Video (click to play): Raw video of Hackleburg, Alabama destruction from WVTM, Channel 13, Birmingham
May 2 Update: The National Weather Service has designated the massive Tuscaloosa tornado as a strong EF-4 storm with winds up to 190 mph. The storm caused over 1000 injuries and at least 65 deaths. The path length was a very impressive 80.3 miles, and the damage width was 1.5 miles where it crossed highway I-65. The city of Tuscaloosa still reports 340 missing from the storm.
This storm was one of several strong to violent tornadoes produced by a supercell thunderstorm which began in Newton County, Mississippi at 2:54 pm and dissipated in Macon County, North Carolina around 10:18 pm CDT, covering a total distance of 380 miles in a little under 7.5 hours.
There are at least 2 other EF-4 tornado tracks in the Birmingham NWS office area. (Track map updated.)
May 1 Update: The total number of tornadoes for the April 26-28 event has been revised upward to 312, which is now more than double the previous single-event record. There were an estimated 266 tornadoes in the 24-hour period ending 8 am April 28, which is also a new single-day record.
The Hackleburg, Alabama tornado, previously designated EF-3+, has been confirmed as EF-5, the maximum tornado intensity. Winds were estimated at over 200 mph. The path length was over 25 miles in Marion County, continuing into the Tennessee Valley, with a damage width of 3/4 mile. There were at least 25 deaths from the storm. Several subdivisions, the Hackleburg High School and Wrangler Jeans plant were destroyed. A total of at least 100 structures were destroyed. Motor vehicles were moved 150-200 yards.
A report from the adjoining area serviced by the Huntsville, Alabama NWS office indicates that this tornado continued as an EF-4 into Franklin and Lawrence Counties with a path length of at least 39 miles and 41 fatalities. "Continuous significant devastation" was reported throughout the city of Phil Campbell, including a church completely destroyed with only the slab remaining. Significant devastation also occurred in the areas of Mt. Hope, Langtown, and extreme northwestern Morgan County.
As the amazing April 2011 tornado statistics continue to be compiled, the records continue to fall:
- The National Weather Service preliminary count of 288 tornadoes during the event from 8:00 am EDT April 26 to 8:00 am April 28 was nearly double the previous record event of 148 tornadoes on April 3-4, 1974.
- The death toll of 344 is the largest for any tornado event in the modern warning era of radar and satellite imaging. It is the highest number killed in a 2-day period since the 454 deaths on April 5-6, 1936.
- The 334 fatalities in a 24-hour period are the most in a single day since the 747 on March 18, 1925, which includes the infamous Tri-State Tornado.
- The death count of at least 65 from the Tuscaloosa-Birmingham tornado is the highest in a single storm since 80 people died on May 25, 1955 in Kansas.
- The preliminary count of over 600 tornadoes this month is more than double the previous April record of 267 in 1974.
- This also beats the previous all-time monthly record of 542 in May 2003.
- Dade and Walker Counties
- Bartow, Cherokee, and Pickens Counties
- Meriwether, Spalding, and Henry Counties
- Pike, Lamar, Monroe, and Butts Counties