EF-3 tornado that killed 7 in Alabama was on the ground for 76 miles, NWS finds
Damage was reported in nine states, with Alabama appearing to be the hardest hit during the severe weather outbreak. A rare Tornado Emergency was issued for Autauga County, Alabama, where a large tornado killed at least seven people. In Georgia, at least two other deaths were reported.
AUTAUGA COUNTY, Ala. - Widespread destruction was reported in parts of the South when a severe weather outbreak spawned several tornadoes Thursday. While crews continue the painstaking task of sifting through and clearing storm debris, families are mourning those who were killed.
Storm damage has been reported in nine states, with Alabama appearing to be the hardest hit during the severe weather.
The deadly storms prompted the National Weather Service to issue a rare Tornado Emergency for parts of Alabama when a large and destructive tornado was spotted outside the state capital of Montgomery.
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President Joe Biden on Sunday approved Alabama's disaster declaration, which will now make federal funding available to those who were affected by the severe storms in Autauga and Dallas counties.
Autauga County in Alabama saw extreme damage when the EF-2 tornado tore through the community.
"Seven people lost their lives here in Autauga County, Alabama, and it's not lost on anyone here," FOX Weather correspondent Nicole Valdes said. "How painful these next few days, next few weeks are going to be as they not only mourn the loss of their loved ones but truly they are going to be forced to dig through anything that's left of their homes to try and find anything salvageable."
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Long-track, EF-3 tornado among 9 that touched down in central Alabama
Teams with the National Weather Service in Birmingham completed their surveys on Sunday and found one continuous tornado damage path that stretched from Autauga County into western Chambers County.
The NWS said the Old Kingston-Lake Martin tornado had a long-track path and was on the ground for more than 76 miles. That EF-3 tornado was estimated to be at least 1,500 yards wide, caused 7 fatalities and injured 16 others.
Nine tornadoes in total touched down in central Alabama during the severe weather outbreak last week.
According to the NWS, those tornadoes include two EF-1s, six EF-2s and one EF-3.
The NWS said additional forms of aerial and satellite images would be analyzed over the next few days to see if there is any new information that can be added to the assessment.
Tornado kills 5 people from the same family in Autauga County, Alabama
Valdes has been in Alabama since the severe weather outbreak last week and said she has seen power crews working to restore electricity to those who still have a home.
Of the seven people killed in Alabama during the severe weather, five of them were from the same family.
"This is totally heartbreaking, said Jay Thompson, chairman of the Autauga County Commission. "I met with some of the family members this morning that lost five family members. She was explaining that there's not a whole lot of family left. So it wiped whole families out. You know, five isn't a huge number, but if five is all you have, that's 100%, and that's a lot."
The tornado struck in a rural area of Alabama, and Valdes said there aren't many options for storm shelters.
"So, officials told me that during these tornado warnings, these men and women who do live here sometimes only have their mobile homes to shelter in and hope for the best – hope that these tornadoes do not have a direct hit on their home," she said.
Valdes said there are no county-run shelters in Autauga County, but they do work with local nonprofits and churches to try and give people options of where to go before a storm hits.