11 tornadoes hit central Alabama, two in River Region

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After a whirlwind weekend of thunderstorms across the south, the National Weather Service office in Birmingham has confirmed that at least 11 tornadoes touched down in central Alabama, a number that could increase as teams continue to scout damaged areas.

As of Tuesday afternoon, two tornadoes were confirmed to have touched down in the River Region, an EF-0 tornado that reportedly hit near the Emerald Mountain area and an EF-1 that set down on Willow Springs Road in the Blue Ridge Valley area, according to the NWS.

Of the River Region, Elmore County was perhaps hit the hardest by the weekend storms with several trees falling by the wind, one of which fell on and damaged the Wetumpka Church of Christ.

On social media, Elmore County residents reported three tornadoes in the county, but the NWS has only confirmed two thus far. The EF-0 rating means the winds were between 65 and 85 mph. The EF-1 was estimated to have winds of up to 90 mph.

The longest sustained tornado of the weekend in Alabama was in Troy where an EF-1 began on County Road 1107 north of Goshen before traveling more than 37 miles eastward on a path about 100 miles wide. During the trek, the tornado caused some slight damage to a grove of trees in south Troy and caused “significant damage” to a mobile home south of County Road 18, according to the NWS. Nobody in the mobile home was injured.

Four tornadoes were also confirmed in Lee County on Saturday. One hit just outside of Opelika near Shady Park and caused mostly tree damage with wind speed peaking at around 90 mph. A second tornado touched down in Smiths Station (EF1), a third hit Haley Woods (EF0), and a fourth formed in Crawford (EF0), but further details for those aren’t yet available.

The other five tornadoes were in Tuscaloosa, Marengo, Bullock and St. Clair counties and none exceeded an EF-1 rating. Tornado activity wasn’t limited to Alabama, however, and neighboring states didn’t escape the wall of storms unscathed. A tornado in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, killed four people and damaged William Carey University on Saturday. In Georgia, a Sunday tornado killed at least 14 people and injured 23 more after the storm cell swept eastward out of Alabama. At least five tornadoes wreaked damage to homes, trees and power lines in Louisiana over the weekend, but no deaths or serious injuries have been reported.

(Last updated at 1:50 p.m. on Jan. 24)

Elmore County – Emerald Mountain – EF0
Elmore County – Willow Springs Road – EF1
Pike/Barber County – Troy/Louisville – EF1
Lee County – Shady Park (Opelika) – EF1
Lee County – Smiths Station – EF1
Lee County – Haley Woods – EF0
Lee County – Crawford – EF0
Marengo County – Putnam – EF1
Marengo County – Wayne – EF1
Tuscaloosa County – Hagler – EF0
Bullock County – Shopton – EF1

EF0 – Weak – 65 to 85 mph
EF1 – Weak – 86 to 110 mph
EF2 – Strong – 111 to 135 mph
EF3 – Strong – 136 to 165 mph
EF4 – Violent – 166 to 200 mph
EF5 – Violent – 200 mph

by Andrew J. Yawn , Montgomery Advertiser
Published 2:15 p.m. CT Jan. 24, 2017 | Updated 2 hours ago

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Kyrie Wagner