Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Tornado Chronicles: Mobile, AL Tornado of December 25, 2012...


Many of you probably recall that a tornado caused fairly extensive damage in the West and Northwest portions of Mobile, AL 5 days ago, on December 20th.



Another tornado struck the city just before 5pm CST on Christmas Day, December 25, 2012 and by all indications it was a large tornado.  The above photos were recently posted to twitter, and the video below has emerged on YouTube, complete with power flashes from exploding transformers.  Both images show a large, "wedge" tornado as it entered the city.



Thankfully, there are no reports of serious injuries or deaths thus far, but widespread damage to trees and powerlines, homes and other structures has been reported.  

The tornado caused extensive damage to the historic Murphy High School, one of the largest high schools in Alabama, with enrollment of over 2,000 students.  Windows are blown out of the school and a large portion of the roof is gone:



The athletic building has been severely damaged and other portable buildings behind the school have been heavily damaged or completely destroyed (photos via al.com):


Extensive damage was also done to the Trinity Episcopal Church on Dauphin Street (photos via al.com):




Extensive damage to trees, powerlines and even some homes was evident in the "Midtown" area of Mobile (unless otherwise noted, photos via al.com):







(photo via AP)

...as well as to businesses along "the Loop" near Midtown (photos via al.com):




Aerial photos taken today by WKRG, the CBS affiliate in Mobile, show a birds eye view of the damage, which is quite revealing.  The first series of photos were taken above Murphy High School:





The remaining aerial photos show damage to homes in the Midtown area, adjacent to the High School and Trinity Episcopal Church:








The following YouTube video has emerged which shows surveillance camera video from a Walgreen's drug store located on Government Street at the Loop as the tornado passes very nearby.  Note the debris, including the movement cars, in the parking lot.  The 2nd half of the video shows movement inside the main entrance to the store at the time the tornado passed nearby: 




The National Weather Service (NWS) conducted a ground-truth storm damage survey on December 26th and has assigned a preliminary intensity rating of EF-2 to this tornado. 

The estimated initiation point of the tornado was near Dauphin Island Parkway and Halls Mill Road.  The tornado then traveled an estimated 5.7 miles before lifting near Telegraph Road and Jakes Lane in Prichard:



The maximum damage width along the tornadoes path was 200 yards, and the maximum wind speed is estimated at 115-135 mph.  The EF-2 rating was based on damage to several homes between Clearmont St. and Spring Hill Avenue (Highway 98) just to the West of Houston St (track portion shown in yellow on this zoomed-in image):



This is also the portion of the track where the tornado increased to near 200 yards wide, as it crossed Dauphin Street.

The tornado on Christmas Day initiated about 3 miles East of the tornado that touched down 5 days earlier, on December 20th.  The ending points of the tornadoes were only one-half of a mile apart, with both crossing Telegraph Road (Highway 43) before lifting:



If you have an interest in this tornado event, please bookmark this post and check back for additional information, photos and videos as they become available over the coming hours and days...

Note:  this post was originally published at 8:41 PM CST on 12/25/12 but has been republished at later dates and times as new information is obtained...

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phlebotamist said...
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