April 27th tornado in Rainsville, AL upgraded to EF-5 - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

April 27th tornado in Rainsville, AL upgraded to EF-5

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DEKALB COUNTY, RAINSVILLE, AL (WRCB)-- The National Weather Service in Huntsville, Alabama reports the April 27th tornado that destroyed portions of Rainsville has been upgraded from an EF-4 to EF-5.

According to the NWS, the upgrade follows an additional ground survey of the twister's path that focused on a narrow corridor of severe damage along County Road 180.

Results from the survey reveal the tornado had an estimated wind peak greater than 200 miles per hour with a path measuring 33.8 miles long and 3/4 mile wide.

The tornado leveled a two-story brick home and tore its anchors from the ground.

In addition to the home, an 800-pound safe was thrown 600 feet into a wooded area with the door completely removed.

Nearly 30 people died in DeKalb County during the devastation. 

READ THE ENTIRE REPORT BELOW:

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HUNTSVILLE AL
300 PM CDT FRI JUN 17 2011
 
...ADDITIONAL INFORMATION LEADS TO AN UPGRADE OF DEKALB COUNTY 
TORNADO FROM APRIL 27TH TO AN EF-5...
 
AN ADDITIONAL GROUND SURVEY BASED ON NEW INFORMATION WAS CONDUCTED
ON JUNE 15TH ALONG A NARROW CORRIDOR OF DEKALB COUNTY EAST AND
NORTHEAST OF DOWNTOWN RAINSVILLE. THIS STORM SURVEY WAS UTILIZED
ALONG WITH AERIAL IMAGERY FROM A NOAA OVERFLIGHT ON MAY 4TH,
INTERVIEWS WITH RESIDENCES IN THE AREA, AND ADDITIONAL PRE-EVENT
IMAGERY TO UPDATE THE PREVIOUS RATING FOR THE LONG TRACK TORNADO THAT
IMPACTED DEKALB COUNTY ON APRIL 27TH.
 
FINDINGS INCLUDING THE UPDATED SURVEY INFORMATION ARE AS FOLLOWS:
 
* EVENT TYPE: TORNADO
* EVENT DATE: 04/27/11
* EVENT TIME: 6:19 PM TO 6:56 PM
 
* ESTIMATED PEAK WIND: 200.0 MPH
* PRELIMINARY RATING: EF-5
 
* PATH LENGTH: 33.8 MILES
* MAXIMUM PATH WIDTH: 0.75 MILES
 
* BEGINNING POINT: 34.90708 / -85.978378
* MID POINT:34.507738/ -85.790106
* ENDING POINT: 34.733306 / -85.557820
 
* PRELIMINARY SURVEY INFORMATION (COPIED FOR INITIAL STATEMENT):
 
THE TORNADO PATH IS LIKELY TO HAVE BEGUN IN THE LAKEVIEW COMMUNITY 
NORTHEAST OF GERALDINE BEFORE TRACKING NORTHEASTWARD, GENERALLY
PARALLEL TO AND JUST EAST OF STATE ROUTE 75. ALONG THIS LINE, THE
TORNADO PASSED THROUGH FYFFE, RAINSVILLE, SYLVANIA, AND EVENTUALLY
INTO NORTHERN DEKALB COUNTY SOUTH OF THE CARTERSVILLE COMMUNITY. ON
THE FIRST DAY OF SURVEYS, THE SURVEY TEAM NOTICED INTIAL DAMAGE IN
THE LAKEVIEW COMMUNITY WHERE THE PATH WIDTH WAS GENERALLY AROUND 50
YARDS. THIS INITIAL DAMAGE INCLUDED MOSTLY FELLED AND SNAPPED TREES
AND STRUCTURAL DAMAGE TO SMALL BUILDINGS. EXTENSIVE DAMAGE WAS NOTED
ESPECIALLY IN THE RAINSVILE AND SYLVANIA COMMUNITIES WHERE THE PATH
WIDTH WAS ESTIMATED TO OVER 1/2 MILE WIDE. DAMAGE IN RAINSVILLE
INCLUDED HOUSES THAT WERE COMPLETELY REMOVED FROM FOUNDATIONS, WITH
DEBRIS SCATTERED FOR ABOUT ONE MILE. NEAR THIS LOCATION, TREES WERE
DEBARKED AND A FEW MOBILE HOMES WERE COMPLETELY DESTROYED, WITH
DEBRIS STREWN FOR ABOUT A MILE DOWNSTREAM. 
 
IN THE SYLVANIA COMMUNITY, A SIMILAR SITUATION OCCURRED WITH HOUSES
COMPLETELY REMOVED FROM FOUNDATIONS AND DEBRIS BLOWN FAR DOWNSTREAM.
SOME OF THESE HOUSES WERE CONNECTED TO THEIR FOUNDATIONS WITH ANCHOR
BOLTS AND FOUNDATION STRAPS, INDICATING A STRONGER CONSTRUCTION OF
THE HOMES. ON THE SECOND DAY OF SURVEYS, INFORMATION WAS RECEIVED
FROM DEKALB COUNTY EMA, WHO CONDUCTED SEVERAL AREAL SURVEYS AND
DETERMINED THAT THE TORNADO DAMAGE PATCH WAS INDEED CONTINUOUS FROM
THE LAKEVIEW COMMUNITY THROUGH RAINSVILLE, SYLVANIA, AND THEN TO
SOUTH OF THE CARTERSVILLE AREA IN NORTHEASTERN DEKALB COUNTY. FURTHER
DAMAGE WAS OBSERVED TO THE NORTH OF CARTERSVILLE AND INTO NORTHWEST
GEORGIA, BUT THIS WAS LATER DETERMINED TO BE ANOTHER TORNADO TRACK
FROM EARLIER IN THE DAY. GROUND SURVEYS WERE CONDUCTED FROM THE BLAKE
COMMUNITY INTO SOUTHEAST SYLVANIA, THEN THROUGH HENAGAR, IDER, AND TO
THE CARTERSVILLE AREA. THE TORNADO DAMAGE CONTINUED ALONG THE PATH
FROM THE BLAKE COMMUNITY, INTERSECTING COUNTY ROAD 27 AND CONTINUING
TO THE NORTHEAST, RUNNING PARELLEL BETWEEN HWY 75 AND INTERSTATE 59
THROUGH HENAGAR, IDER AND THEN TO SOUTH OF CARTERSVILLE. IN THE BLAKE
COMMUNITY, THE TORNADO DAMAGE WIDTH WAS ESTIMATED TO BE ONE HALF TO
AS MUCH AS THREE-QUARTERS OF A MILE WIDE. ALONG COUNTY ROAD 27 JUST
SOUTHEAST OF THE SYLVANIA COMMUNITY, SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE WAS OBSERVED.
ALL EXTERIOR AND INTERIOR WALLS OF SEVERAL HOMES WERE COMPLETELY
DESTROYED WITH PARTIAL BLOCK AND MORTAR FOUNDATIONS REMAINING. IN ONE
INSTANCE, A CONCRETE SLAB THAT SERVED AS A PORCH WAS DISPLACED A FEW
FEET AND BROKEN IN HALF. SOME HARDWOOD TREES IN THE AREA WERE
STRIPPED WITH NO STUBS OF ANY BRANCHES REMAINING AND WERE PARTIALLY
DEBARKED. THE MOUNTAIN VIEW BAPTIST CHURCH, WHICH WAS JUST INSIDE THE
SYLVANIA COMMUNITY ALSO SUSTAINED SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE. AN OLD, ONE-
STORY PORTION OF THE CHURCH DATING TO 1902 AND CONSTRUCTED OF A BRICK
AND MORTAR EXTERIOR ON WOOD FRAME WALLS WAS COMPLETELY DESTROYED. A
RECENT TWO-STORY ADDITION TO THE CHURCH CONSTRUCTED IN 2004 AND
CONSISTING OF SIMILAR BUILDING MATERIALS WAS PARTIALLY DESTROYED,
WITH MOST EXTERIOR WALLS AND NEARLY ALL INTERIOR WALLS FALLEN. A
CONCRETE BLOCK AND MORTAR FOUNDATION WAS ALL THAT REMAINED OF A
HALLWAY ADJOINING THE TWO BUILDINGS.
 
 
* UPDATED SURVEY INFORMATION GATHERED ON JUNE 15TH:
 
FOR THE PURPOSES OF FURTHER STUDY, THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
FOCUSED PRIMARILY ON A NARROW CORRIDOR OF INTENSE DAMAGE EXTENDING
FROM SKAGGS ROAD TO LINGERFELDT ROAD (ALSO KNOWN AS COUNTY ROAD 180)
EXTENDING TOWARD COUNTY ROAD 514. ALONG SKAGGS ROAD, A STONE HOUSE
WAS COMPLETELY OBLITERATED WITH MUCH OF THE INTERIOR DEBRIS STREWN
WELL AWAY FROM THE STRUCTURE. A SUPPORTING LARGE CEMENT AND STONE
PILLAR WAS RIPPED COMPLETELY OUT OF THE GROUND. ANOTHER HOME ALONG
SKAGGS ROAD WAS ALSO LEVELED COMPLETELY TO THE GROUND. THE NOAA
OVERFLIGHT SHOWED SIGNIFICANT GROUND SCARRING IN THIS AREA AND A WALK
THROUGH THE NEARBY FIELDS SHOWED LARGE POT MARKS AND OTHER SECTIONS
OF DISTURBED GROUND.
 
SLIGHTLY NORTHEAST ALONG LINGERFELDT ROAD, NUMEROUS HOMES WERE LEVELED
COMPLETELY TO THEIR FOUNDATION WITH VEHICLES AND DEBRIS STREWN FOR
HUNDREDS OF FEET. OVERHEAD PHOTOS AND FOLLOW-UP VISUAL CONFIRMATION
REVEALED A MANGLED VEHICLE TOSSED WELL INTO A RAVINE AND RESTING UP
IN THE REMAINDER OF TREES. AT 1608 LINGERFELDT ROAD/CR 180 A LARGE
TWO STORY BRICK HOME WAS COMPLETELY OBLITERATED WITH SEVERAL OF THE
SUPPORTING ANCHORS RIPPED OUT OF THE GROUND. A CONCRETE PORCH WAS
RIPPED OFF WITH PIECES STREWN UP TO 150 YARDS. A SECTION OF THE
ASPHALT DRIVEWAY WAS PULLED UP. IN ADDITION, AN ANCHORED LIBERTY SAFE
WEIGHING 800 POUNDS WAS PULLED OFF ITS ANCHORAGE AND THROWN INTO A
WOODED AREA 600 FEET AWAY. WHEN FOUND, THE SAFE'S DOOR HAD BEEN RIPPED
OPEN AND COMPLETELY OFF. A LARGE PICK-UP TRUCK AT THIS RESIDENCE WAS
FOUND MANGLED IN PIECES OVER 250 YARDS AWAY IN THE SAME WOODED AREA.
THE RESIDENTS OF THE HOME SURVIVED IN A NEARBY STORM PIT. OF NOTE THE
STORM PIT WAS PARTIALLY EXPOSED BY THE TORNADO WITH DIRT BEING SUCKED
UP AND PULLED AWAY AROUND THE OPENING. NEXT DOOR A MOBILE HOME WAS
COMPLETELY DISINTEGRATED. THE RESIDENTS OF THE MOBILE THERE ALSO
SURVIVED IN A STORM PIT.
 
THIS SECTION OF DAMAGE FROM SKAGGS ROAD TO LINGERFELT ROAD NEAR THE
INTERSECTION WITH CROW LANE WAS DEEMED TO BE EF-5 IN INTENSITY.
 
IT SHOULD ALSO BE NOTED THAT SEVERE DAMAGE, NEAR EF-5 IN INTENSITY WAS
NOTED IN A CORRIDOR FROM CR 515 THROUGH A NEIGHBORHOOD ALONG COUNTY
ROAD 441. IN THE EAST AND SOUTH ENDS OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD, MANY ONE
AND TWO STORY HOMES WERE LEVELED TO THEIR FOUNDATION WITH DEBRIS
SCATTERED SOME DISTANCE. SEVERAL CARS WERE THROWN A LARGE DISTANCE IN
THIS AREA. THERE WAS EVIDENCE OF GROUND SCARRING AS WELL AS SOME
SIDEWALK PAVEMENT PULLED UP IN THIS LOCATION. HOWEVER, SOME OF THE
HOMES IN THIS AREA APPEARED TO BE PUSHED OFF THEIR FOUNDATION
INITIALLY WITH LIMITED ANCHORAGE. THUS, THE DAMAGE WAS DEEMED HIGH
END EF-4 IN THIS AREA.
 
THESE FINDINGS ARE STILL PRELIMINARY AND ARE SUBJECT TO ADJUSTMENT
BEFORE A FINAL REPORT IS COMPLETED. ALSO NOTE THAT THE FINAL REPORT
MAY INCLUDE A SLIGHT ADJUSTMENT TO THE BEGINNING POINT OF THE TRACK.
PICTURES AND SUMMARY MATERIALS WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE ON OUR WEB PAGE
AT WEATHER.GOV/HUNTSVILLE /ALL LOWER CASE/.
 
SURVEYED BY: WHITE/BURKS/COYNE/DARDEN
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