The History of Tornadoes in Huntsville, Alabama
Huntsville, Alabama, is a city that has experienced its fair share of natural disasters over the years. One of the most devastating and frequent natural disasters that the city has faced is tornadoes. Tornadoes are a common occurrence in the southern United States, and Huntsville is no exception. From early records of tornadoes in the area to the latest occurrences, here is everything you need to know about tornado history in Huntsville.
Early Tornadoes in Huntsville
Huntsville is located in the Tennessee Valley, which is known for its frequent thunderstorms and tornadoes. The earliest recorded tornado in Huntsville dates back to June 12, 1872. It was an EF2 tornado that caused severe damage to homes in the area. However, it wasn’t until the late 1940s that scientists began to study tornadoes, and the National Weather Service started issuing tornado warnings in the 1950s.
The 1974 Super Outbreak
One of the most significant tornado outbreaks in US history is the 1974 Super Outbreak. The event was a massive tornado outbreak that hit fourteen states, including Alabama. Over 319 tornadoes were recorded in a single day, and the disaster took the lives of over 300 people. Huntsville was among the cities that were most affected during the Super Outbreak, with a series of tornadoes hitting the area between April 3-4, 1974.
The tornadoes that swept through Huntsville had wind speeds that ranged from 185 to 260 mph. They destroyed entire neighborhoods, damaged cars, and killed 21 people in the area. The disaster prompted the National Weather Service to develop a system for predicting and tracking severe weather, which has since saved countless lives.
The 1989 Huntsville Tornado
On November 15, 1989, another deadly EF4 tornado hit Huntsville. The tornado had wind speeds that reached up to 260 mph and was on the ground for over 20 miles. The tragic event claimed 21 lives and caused massive destruction to homes, businesses, and vehicles in the area. Over 250 people were injured, and the damage was estimated to be around $500 million.
Huntsville Tornadoes in the 21st Century
In recent years, Huntsville has seen its fair share of tornadoes. In 2010, an EF2 tornado hit the city, causing minor damage to homes and businesses. In 2011, Alabama saw one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in history, with over 200 tornadoes hitting the state, including Huntsville. The April 27, 2011, tornado that hit Huntsville was an EF3 and caused severe damage to buildings and other structures in the area. Over 20 people were injured during the disaster.
2019 also saw several tornadoes in the Huntsville area as part of a series of tornado outbreaks across the state of Alabama. These tornadoes caused minor damage to homes and businesses in the area.
Preparing for Tornadoes in Huntsville
Tornadoes are a significant threat to the people of Huntsville. The city is located in Tornado Alley, and severe weather is part of life. However, there are steps that you can take to prepare for a tornado and stay safe during the event. Here are some tips to help you prepare for a tornado:
- Know the Signs – The skies usually turn dark green or orange before a tornado. The wind will also become very still, and you may hear the sound of a roaring train. If you observe these signs, it’s time to seek shelter immediately.
- Create a Tornado Safety Plan – Create a plan with your family members on what to do during a tornado. Identify the safe areas of your home and establish a designated meeting place in case you become separated.
- Stay Informed – Pay close attention to weather reports and warnings, especially during severe weather season. It’s also necessary to have a weather radio and smartphone with weather apps that can warn you of incoming tornadoes.
Tornadoes have been a part of Huntsville’s history since the beginning. From the earliest records of tornadoes in the area to the latest occurrences, it’s clear that the city is situated in a region that’s prone to tornadoes. However, preparedness is the key to staying safe during a tornado.
By observing common signs of a tornado, creating a tornado safety plan with family members, staying informed about weather reports and warnings, and having necessary tools like weather radio and smartphone weather apps, you can protect yourself and your family during a tornado.
Finally, the city of Huntsville takes severe weather seriously and has an extensive network of tornado sirens to alert residents of impending danger. By staying informed and being prepared, you can survive a tornado and rebuild after the event.