Today marks the fifth anniversary of the Super Outbreak of April 27, 2011. It was the largest, costliest, and one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks to occur in the southeast. In our area, we were spared the worst of storms, but still had two long-track tornadoes move across the area.
The first of the day developed 3.6 miles south of Polkville, in Smith County at 4:28 p.m.. It moved over mostly rural land and through forested areas. It was rated an EF-3 tornado with winds estimated at 130mph. Damages included two chicken homes were destroyed, a mobile home was destroyed, and a home had roof damage, as well as an 18 wheeler cab and trailer was thrown about 300 yards. It was only on the ground for about eight miles and was only one-quarter of a mile wide and no one was hurt or killed by the tornado.
The second tornado of the day developed around 5:45pm just southeast of Raleigh and quickly intensified as it moved eastward. It would eventually become an EF-4 tornado. According to the National Weather Service, the tornado then produced its first area of EF-4 damage just northwest of Louin along County Road 164. Several mobile homes and one frame home were destroyed. The frame home was completely destroyed, according to storm survey crews. There was even sections where the foundation pushed clean.
The tornado moved 65 miles across Smith, Jasper, & Clarke counties.
In Clarke County, the tornado again produced EF-4 damage. The National Weather Service report said, "As the tornado passed along a two mile stretch of State Highway 519 east of Enterprise, it heavily damaged several frame homes and caused extensive tree damage. One spot here was the other area of EF-4 damage produced by this tornado. A new construction frame home was completely leveled with the debris swept off the foundation. Residents in the area reported that the house was nearly completed. Based on these reports and the extent of other nearby, primarily tree, damage, this damage is being preliminarily rated as EF-4 with maximum winds of 175 mph."
This tornado eventually continued into Alabama. Seven people were killed by this tornado, all were in mobile homes.
Image Credit: NWS Jackson
The outbreak spawned 219 tornadoes across Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. It killed 317 people. Most notable were the tornadoes that hit Smithfield, Philadelphia, Cullman, Phil Campbell, Hackelburg, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, Huntsville & Ringgold, GA.