2012-03-02 Athens, AL/East Limestone, AL tornado


Northern Alabama was under a moderate risk on March 2, 2012, Around 6 AM I started monitoring radar and by 8 AM saw convective development to the W/SW of my home. As the storms grew in intensity I clearly saw rotation in the lead storm by 8:50 AM. The NWS issued a severe thunderstorm warning around that time. When the area of rotation got closer to my location, I went outside and saw some scud moving rapidly from east to west, and reported rotation to the NWS in Huntsville. What I didn't know was that a tornado had already been on the ground for several minutes. As I watched the area of rotation something caught my eye to the east. At that time all I could be sure of was that it was a funnel cloud, because my view was blocked by trees and I could not confirm that it was on the ground. The sirens went off after the tornado was on the ground for about 4-5 minutes. Finally, about 7-8 minutes after touch down the NWS issued a tornado warning. I don't know why it took so long to issue a warning. I know it was reported several minutes before the warning was issued. This tornado came within 0.8 miles of my home. If it had been a little further north our home would been hit, without warning. The tornado was rated EF-3, causing considerable damage along its 34 mile path.
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