Historic Tuscaloosa Tornado…Dec 16th, 2000 (Updated 10am Thursday)

It was ten years ago today, when Tuscaloosa County was devastated by a tornado that formed from a supercell storm originating in Mississippi. This particular supercell was strongest in an outbreak of storms that stretched from Mississippi to North Carolina. A tornado was first noted with this storm just north of Meridian, MS. The cell tracked northeast along the I-20/59 corridor and produced a tornado that tracked through southern Tuscaloosa County. The first structural damage reported was near Englewood School, where a home was overturned. The tornado then continued east just missing Hillcrest High School and crossing US Highway 82 and Interstate 20/59 east of Tuscaloosa, damaging shopping centers, homes, mobile homes, and commercial businesses along the way.

The path of the tornado was 750 yards wide and 18 miles long, with estimated wind speeds of 207-260 miles per hour. The National Weather Service determined the tornado to be an F4 on the Fujita Storm Intensity Scale, which translates into “Devastating Damage, whole frame houses leveled, leaving piles of debris; steel structures badly damaged; trees debarked by small flying debris; cars and trains thrown some distances or rolled considerable distances; large missiles generated”. This storm killed 11 people, and injured another 144. The total damage cost is estimated to be around $12.5 million.

This tornado is remembered as being the strongest December tornado in Alabama since records were first kept in 1950, and is tied with one other storm to be the second deadliest December tornado in the United States.

WVUA Meteorologist Richard Scott

Image source: NWS Birmingham

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One Response to Historic Tuscaloosa Tornado…Dec 16th, 2000 (Updated 10am Thursday)

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