5.3 Damage survey of the Tuscaloosa - Birmingham, AL tornado

Tuesday, 6 November 2012: 9:15 AM
Symphony I and II (Loews Vanderbilt Hotel)
Jim Stefkovich, NOAA/NWS, Calera, AL; and T. P. Marshall, J. De Block, J. G. LaDue, and C. Karsten
Manuscript (2.4 MB)

On April 27, 2011 a large and destructive tornado traveled through Tuscaloosa, AL and continued northeastward through the northwest suburbs of Birmingham. The tornado killed 64 people and injured more than 1500. Overall, the tornado traveled 80.7 miles (130 km) and was rated high end EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. This paper will present findings from our damage surveys and discuss the use of the EF-scale. It was found that many houses were swept clean from their foundations. However, these foundations offered little resistance against transferred wind loads as they were typically constructed with unreinforced, concrete masonry units (CMUs). Thus, there was no safe place for residents to seek appropriate shelter against such a violent tornado.
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