Tornado’s in Alabama

Tornados in Alabama

Dylan Maynard, reporter

The tornadoes roared through Lee County on Sunday afternoon, killing at least 23 people, including multiple children, in what a local official called “the worst natural disaster that has ever occurred” in the county.

A tornado watch for Lee County was issued with the first tornado warning issued at 1:58 p.m. CST. That warning was issued just five minutes before the first damage report in the county.

It was one of the deadliest tornado events in the state since 2011, when more than 230 people across Alabama were killed that April.The 2011 tornado outbreak left about 300 dead throughout the southeastern United States. In response, the National Weather Service improved its operations for helping communities prepare for natural disasters, said Douglas Hildebrand, a meteorologist who leads the NWS’ Weather-Ready National Ambassador program. The initiative began in response to that tornado season.

“That April 2011 experience was really an eye-opener for the National Weather Service, in the sense that it was a very well forecast event … we were highlighting the magnitude of this event days in advance and yet 300 people lost their lives,” he said.

“It really shined a light on how there’s much more that needs to be done from a National Weather Service perspective, but also a community perspective in terms of working together,” he said.

The NWS invested in its technology and services to not only issue timely and more accurate tornado warnings but also to disseminate information to the community, he said.

The NWS recommends having multiple ways to receive warnings about extreme weather, such as receiving phone alerts, and warnings on television broadcasts and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Radio.