1973-05-19 Fort Payne, Alabama F4 Tornado

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Apr 23, 2015
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Athens, AL
This was the first tornado I had ever seen. Considering the damage it caused, it was a miracle no one was killed. There were 37 injuries. It had a relatively short track, about 11 miles. It began as two distinct funnels and merged into one, multiple-vortex tornado. A two-story, 16-unit apartment complex was moved about 150 feet into the middle of main street. The building was still fully intact. The tornado completely removed the roof of our house, collapsing one wall. Debris from businesses located in Fort Payne was found in Rome,Georgia, about 45-50 miles away. The NWS rated it F4.

An interesting side note to this story is that there was another tornado exactly 10 years to the date of this one. The path of the 1983 tornado was about one mile to the north of the first one. The first one occurred at 6:55 P.M., the second one at 6:15 P.M. The second tornado was rated F2.
 
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Apr 23, 2015
61
12
11
Athens, AL
5/1973 was quite an active month for AL, likely in part due to the very strong Nino that proceeded it. Longest-tracked tornado (139.1 miles) in state history (F4) struck on 5/27 and devastated Brent, in addition to taking out the NWS radar near Centreville.
I am becoming more and more convinced that ENSO is a strong predictor of severe weather, especially tornado outbreaks. It seems that several years of La Nina conditions increase the likelihood of major tornado outbreaks in the Southeastern U.S. There is still much to learn about this connection.
 
Apr 23, 2015
61
12
11
Athens, AL
5/1973 was quite an active month for AL, likely in part due to the very strong Nino that proceeded it. Longest-tracked tornado (139.1 miles) in state history (F4) struck on 5/27 and devastated Brent, in addition to taking out the NWS radar near Centreville.
I remember the Centreville tornado quite well.