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Hartselle Enquirer

Riding out a tornado

By Clif Knight

A tornado can happen anytime in Morgan County during the months of March, April and May.

We were reminded of that possibility March 31, 2017.

With little advance warning, an EF-2 tornado with wind speeds up to 115 miles per hour touched down just north of Hartselle. It hip-hopped along a one-quarter mile wide and eight-mile long path, causing widespread property damage.

Trees were uprooted, carports and outbuildings were blown off their foundations, and power was disrupted because of downed electric distribution lines.

Fortunately, there were no storm-related fatalities reported.

Meteorologists were tracking this storm system’s movement on radar well before the tornado warning sounded. Undoubtedly, many of us were carrying on as usual – putting away the dishes after an evening meal, sitting in a comfortable chair watching TV or getting ready for bed. Not until I heard the words “tornado spotted down near Hartselle” and read “weather delay” on the TV screen did I fully understand the meaning of the words “take cover.”

A rush of adrenaline sent me to the back door for a look. The sky was filled by fast-moving black clouds; thunder and lightning were playing tag with each other; and rain was coming down in torrents. Back inside, the TV was picking up a broken signal, letting us know the tornado was moving in the direction of Priceville.

What a relief; the danger was gone.

We didn’t learn until the next day that many families escaped the storm’s wrath unhurt, huddled inside their homes while it was wreaking havoc all around them. In sharing their stories about how fast the storm developed, it was apparent some families were caught by surprise.

One mother and her three young children were unaware their lives were at risk when the storm dipped down in the back yard of their home on North Sparkman Street in Hartselle.

“We heard a loud noise and saw that a playhouse, slide and swings had been blown away when we opened the back door to take a look,” the mother said.

The lesson they learned was to keep on ear out for warnings when the possibility of a tornado is in the weather forecast.

Equally as important, have a safe place to go at the sound of “take cover.”

 

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