No words needed. Find photos taken by Tim Marshall during his Lee County, Alabama Tornado damage surveying trip below – quotes above photos come from Marshall.
“’Tim Marshall’ is surveying tornado damage in Lee County. Seeing a combination of poorly anchored and unanchored manufactured homes.”
“AL CARNAGE: Vast majority of the 23 deaths were in manufactured homes.”
“MOWED FOREST: Mile after mile of flattened pine forest. No doubt about where the tornado track was.”
“THE BIG FAIL: Site built homes on concrete slabs had anchor bolts but no nuts or washers to secure the wall plates to the slabs. What the ???”
“TREE STOPPERS: Vaulted and tossed homes that were stopped by trees”
“Vehicles caught by the Tornado. Reminders of why we don’t want to get too close.”
“EF-4 HOME: Examined this house where the NWS assigned the highest rating for this tornado. It was one of the better, self-built homes. At least it would meet code. Wall studs were toenailed to properly bolted base plates. According to a relative, four occupants survived by hiding in the steel bathtub. Many people stopped by to autograph the remaining closet wall, now a shrine.”
“THAT’S A WRAP! Dr. Daphne LaDue spoke with many storm victims to learn what they did to seek shelter during the tornado. In all, we examined 30 manufactured homes and 11 site built homes in detail. Teaming up social scientists with damage surveyors yielded great information. This research is just beginning!”
That’s a wrap for this post! Let us know what you think of the photos in the comments below.
…which deserved its own post here on
Before we get
into post, we’re going to introduce the man behind the blog. Dan Satterfield
has worked as an on-air meteorologist for over thirty years in Alabama, Florida
Now back to our regularly scheduled post. Satterfield took to his blog on agu.org and penned his thoughts on the Lee County, Alabama Tornado. Suffice he did an excellent job, read two excerpts from the post below.
“Sirens Are So Last
Let’s get the sirens out of the way
first. They are not (and never were) designed to be heard indoors. We are
talking 1930’s technology, and while some days it may not seem like it, we are
living in 2019. People have smart-phones that make Star Trek communicators look
old fashioned, and every one of them will alert you to severe weather warnings.
Weather sirens are so last century and frankly are a total waste of tax money except
in a few specific locations. There are better and more cost-effective ways to
alert people to severe weather danger.”
“Plenty of Warning
The Storm Prediction Center issued an outlook 24 hours in advance of the tornado that was dead on. They issued a Watch more than 2 hours before the storm and they deserve credit for what I would almost label an eerily accurate forecast. Most residents had at least 9 minutes under a Tornado Warning before the monster cloud with 170 mph winds developed at 2 PM CST last Sunday.
The Tornado Watch was issued by the SPC at 11:40 AM CST. That is over 2 hours before the tornado formed. Read the wording below.
It’s clear that residents had plenty of
warning that deadly weather was possible, but 23 died and 90 were injured along
the 23-mile path of the EF 4 tornado. Why such a high death toll with all that
It’s an absolutely incredible piece,
which you can read in full here.
Before we get into the post, we’re going to introduce the man who asked the questions. David B. Roueche is the assistant professor in CE at Auburn, AL University.
Roueche applies engineering principles to understand and reduce impacts of weather-related natural hazards. Now, back to our regularly scheduled post.
In nine separate tweets, Roueche put eight separate difficult questions to Brian Hastings (@AlabamaEMA) regarding mobile home performance during the Tornado outbreak in Alabama and Georgia in which twenty three people killed.
We think it’s fair to say, these questions need to be answered. You can find Roueche’s tweeted questions below.
Now that you’ve had the chance to read them, now you can read some of the replies these questions got below.
It’s safe to say this particular subject is a much-needed debate in congress. Let us know your thoughts and even answers to Roueche’s questions below in the comments.
This post was inspired by Dennis Mersereau (Forbes Contributor)
The comments really got to us during the outbreak Sunday. It’s suffice to say catostropheres like Tornadoes bring out a variety of human behaviour. We tend to see this on show at every turn – news station meteorologist on to rescuers and the everyday joe public looking for ways to help after a catastrophic event – like Sunday’s Tornado Outbreak in AL and GA.
However, a passing scroll through social media during a news station’s severe weather coverage illustrates what it looks like when individuals choose a different route. Individuals tend to send news station meteorologists angry (livid, furious) messages – and it even sometimes get to the threats stage – whenever the news station has to stop regular programming (much-loved television show, sports event) to cover severe weather.
Its suffice to say news stations almost (almost) always stop regular programming in favour of covering severe weather events – inc. Tornado warnings. Because we’re writing in the UK, this type of scenario is standard in the U.S. and is rarely disturbed just because the final round of a PGA tour event is on. It’s mind boggling to see the barrage of hate that news station meteorologists get every time a TV show or sporting event is interrupted in favour of live coverage of severe weather events.
This above scenario played out in front of our eyes on Sunday when a violent Tornado outbreak happened in Alabama, Georgia and surrounding areas. The most significant Tornado was an EF-4 (preliminary) which took the lives of twenty three people in Lee County, Alabama. Whilst news station meteorologists warned people – to seek shelter – who were in the soon-to-be affected area – they had to go through cruel, bitter and spiteful tweets from viewers to put a PGA golf tournament back on air – see in tweets below.
FYI: no matter how much pressure the news station meteorologists receive from d**khead viewers to put a PGA golf event back on when a Tornado is destroying homes and changing lives, it’s extremely unlikely that a news station will ever chose to run normal – irrelevant TV – programming whilst a significant Tornado is occurring. NOT GONNA HAPPEN!
As Mersereau said in his post, “no matter how much selfish and angry hate mail people send”.
Our personal point of view can be found
“ITS NOT GONNA HAPPEN! You’ll just have to wait and see Tiger Wood’s meet his next mistress on the course later…”
News stations report
severe weather events – Tornado warnings – simply because it’s a hugely
(massively, enormously…) important service which essence saves lives. A severe
weather/Tornado warning ticker scrolling across the screen isn’t enough to save
lives. The viewers in the path of what could be a significant Tornado need to
see the radar, hear the towns and street names mentioned in order to drive home
and face the particular scenario.
“I’m getting angry whilst writing this post just thinking of people moaning about such a thing. We’re going to close this post on this last paragraph!”
Jamie Simms, website lead
incredible technology at our disposal today, we have the ability to track
Tornadoes in real-time – see debris being lofted in the air. It would be irresponsible,
thoughtless and stupid not to use the incredible technology we have at
presently in order to warn people in the path of a severe storm – Tornado.
Thanks to Dennis Mersereau for inspiring this post. We highly suggest you go and read his version on the same subject here.
We’re not going to say anything, we’re going to turn it over to Rich Lewis to give us his update – which he posted on his Facebook wall.
“Just want to
give everyone an update. I just got back home to Birmingham about 30 min ago. I
can’t find the words to describe how I am feeling emotionally. I’m exhausted
and have so much on my mind. 14 hours of SAR operations has taken its toll on
me. The damage I witnessed in Beauregard AL was horrific.
The only damage I’ve seen that was worse was Joplin. The entire area looked like a war zone. Trees were debarked as if you’d peel a banana. Homes completely wiped from their foundations. County Rd 39 and Cave Mill Road, the epi-centre of ground zero had pavement scoured away which was a big factor in the EF-4 rating.
At 6 am we
still had 20 people missing and many still trapped under rubble. Sadly two more
casualties were uncovered bringing the fatality total to 24. A specialized team
with cadaver dogs was present, and seeing that hit me hard in the pit of my
stomach. They aren’t there for search and rescue.
They are there prepared for recovery. It doesn’t get any more sobering than that. Overnight SAR concentrated heavily on the wooded areas surrounding the heaviest damage path. One crew found a gentleman displaced 1/4 mile away from his home. The crew I was with found multiple survivors buried under mounds of tree debris.
I talked to
numerous survivors that have lost their entire family. One young man lost both
his parents, and both sets of Grandparents to this tornado. Children were
amount the casualties, the youngest a 6 year old boy, an 8 year old little
girl, and a 10 year old girl who will never come home from a sleepover at a
was about as bad as it can get. I cried almost the whole way home this
I believe casualties could have been lessened significantly if people had taken the warnings more serious. The common theme I heard throughout today was we didn’t see a tornado, we didn’t know one was on the ground. Some of the worst killers hide shrouded in rain. Just because you don’t see a tornado, doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
Lead time was
9 minutes from the moment the tornado touched down to the epi-centre of ground
zero in the heaviest damage zone. However the first reports of this storm going
tornadic happened just east of Montgomery and 1:30 and was tornado warned
It is vital to
be weather aware on days such as yesterday. Have a ready action plan in place.
And if you know you’re in the path of a tornadic storm, that’s the time to
start taking precautions. Don’t wait until you hear sirens, don’t wait until
you see the tornado, because it’s too late.
tornado was so heavily rain-wrapped very few got a glimpse of the monster
lurking behind the walls of precip anyways. Yesterday and into the overnight
will stay with me for the rest of my life. This isn’t my first tornado disaster
or SAR, but this one was definitely different.
It hit me
harder as it’s the first time I connected with the victims on a deep emotional
level. I want to take this moment to thank everyone for their kind messages,
words of encouragement, gratitude, and the all the posts. I was overwhelmed
when I saw the amount of support I had when I got home. Today was very rough,
but each and every one of you reminded me why it’s important to give back.
Again, we can’t thank you enough for what you did Rich.
We’re going to start this post a little differently, we’re going to let Lewis’ friend Chris Dickerson give a sense of what this post is about to be about.
“I’m very proud to call Rich Lewis a friend as it is, but to leave your home at night to drive south and participate in private search and rescue efforts after the authorities called them off?”
How did this all come to light you ask? Lewis posted a thought-provoking and significant statement on his Facebook wall last night – which can read in full below.
“Earlier this evening, Lee County
Alabama officials made the hard decision to call off search and rescue (SAR)
operations and resume early this morning as recovery efforts. It’s a hard
decision and one Emergency Management doesn’t take lightly without great pause.
It’s now time for some us to step up and what
we do best as this is the worst natural disaster in history for the region, and
the deadliest Tornado since the 2013 Moore OK Tornado.
Thankfully, there are now private search
and rescue crews from all over the South here to continue SAR operations
throughout the night along with the help of volunteer’s from local agencies who
aren’t ready to give up.
There are still people missing, temps
have dropped substantially and we could see wind chills by morning in the 20’s
and maybe even the teens in much of Alabama. If we can save even just a few
more lives, then it’s worth it.
Time is of the essence for anyone
injured or still missing in these temps. We just had a briefing with Red Cross
officials. SAR operations will continue from Beaurgard to Smiths Station AL overnight.
It will be a long night, and we will
likely see the death toll rise. Please pray for the first responders tonight,
we will likely see things none of us want to see. Continue to pray for the
families so adversely affected by tonight’s deadly Tornadoes.”
It goes without
saying, this is a whole other level of kind-heartedness. Not forgetting, the
service Lewis is giving to the affected community.