I am writing this post from my parent’s house. We lost power this morning at 5:45AM, and I would estimate that we won’t be getting power back for several days. This morning a tornado passed over our house and touched down about a mile away. Trees and powerlines down everywhere from about a mile north of us all the way up into Cahaba Heights past the Summit. In our neighborhood, a tree fell right through a house (picture above). A large tornado just destroyed part of Tuscaloosa and then made it way just north of Birmingham hitting several communities very hard.
At about 5AM, I woke up hearing something, but I didn’t know what it was. As I lay there groggy I realized it was the tornado sirens. I got up, turned on the TV, and saw that it was for the extreme northern part of the county – not a problem. I went back to sleep, but the sirens went off again at 5:30. This time, when I turned on the TV, the forecaster was telling everybody in Bessemer, Hoover, Riverchase to take shelter immediately. I grabbed the kids and we went down to the basement. I settled them on the floor, and everything was quiet for the next 15 minutes. Then it started to get windy, and we lost power. A few minutes later, the wind stepped up in intensity continuosly just getting harder and harder. I rolled over, laid on top of the kids on the floor and prepared to pull the mattress on top of us. Then, just like that, it was over.
I was still able to bike into work. I saw the tree down through the house in our neighborhood shown at the top of this post. And then through Vestavia I saw a few trees down and lots of debris/branches, but nothing really beyond a large thunderstorm. It wasn’t until I biked home and decided to head over to Dolly Ridge / Cahaba Heights that I realized how close a call we had this morning. The pictures below pretty much tell the story. Keep in mind that this was a relatively small tornado, especially compared to the monster that just hit Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, but still it really did a lot of damage on some roads that I ride all the time.
Update – many photos available on http://www.alabamawx.com/. This will take you to the main weather blog for ABC33/40. If you are viewing this days or weeks after the events of yesterday, then scroll down to the very bottom of the Alabama WX page and click on the blog history calendar and navigate to April 28, 2011.
Another update – after going back again today on my bike commute home, I think the more likely tornado path looks something like this satellite one:
4/28 updated damage path satellite view. The green X’s are large trees pushed over or broken in half. Many more than what is shown. These are just the ones that stood out to me. The red lines are where I rode my bike on my commute yesterday.
Damage map – my commute home and back to school temporarily and then home again