Subj: Alabama twister rated F4
Date: 12/18/00 12:12:33 PM Pacific Standard Time

To: (Kent Steadman)

From IP:
Alabama twister rated F4
Mon Dec 18 2000 2:01pm EDT
Kevin Chambers,
The National Weather Service (NWS) believes it was an F4 tornado that hit Tuscaloosa, Ala. on Saturday killing at least 11 people
Saturday's F4 tornado in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
and injuring 75 others.

The preliminary storm survey was released late Sunday after NWS investigators determined that damage found along the tornado track warranted the F4 rating.

Scientists use the Fujita scale to describe a tornado’s strength. The scale ranges from the weakest F0 tornado to the devastating F5 twisters.

The tornado on Saturday raced across the south side of Tuscaloosa about 1 p.m. CST destroying a number of homes, a shopping center under construction and several vehicles.

Authorities said the twister had a forward speed of 60 mph and was on the ground for about 18 miles. At one point, its width grew to 750 yards.

An F4 tornado has wind speeds of 207-260 mph. Investigators said it was spawned by a supercell thunderstorm, which formed in southeastern Mississippi.

Many of the 11 fatalities occurred in a mobile home park located on U.S. 82 in Tuscaloosa County. The heaviest damage is in the Hinton Place, Hillcrest Meadows and Bear Creek areas.

“A warning went out 14 minutes before the tornado hit,” said Dr. Greg Forbes, a severe weather expert at The Weather Channel. A tornado watch, which warned of the potential for violent, long-track tornadoes, had been in place for three hours, Forbes said.

The Tuscaloosa twister is believed to be one of about 20 tornadoes that formed in Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina on Saturday.

Earlier there were reports of 12 fatalities in Tuscaloosa, but authorities revised the number to 11 after a person who had been reported missing was found safe.

Another tornado was blamed for a twelfth death, but it occurred In Geneva County, Ala., which is located several hours southeast of Tuscaloosa.

There were widespread power outages across the region on Saturday, but officials said electricity has been restored in most areas.

Alabama state officials have asked for Federal aid to help pay for the recovery. James Lee Witt, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to tour the damage on Tuesday.