By Kelly Kazek
A tornado that caused damage Friday to at least 115 homes in Limestone County was upgraded late Saturday night from an EF2 to an EF3 by surveyors at the National Weather Service in Huntsville. The upgrade means that after further survey, meteorologists determined the tornado had peak wind speeds of up to 140 mph rather than the previously thought 125 miles per hour.
In addition, the survey team that was working in the Thach community Saturday reported late Saturday night that a second tornado touched down at 3:39 p.m.
Surveys were completed Saturday afternoon along the path of tornado that touched down at about 9 a.m. Friday. The NWS report at www.srh.noaa.gov/hun/ states: “Due to the information gathered from this follow-up survey, the start point of this tornado has been shifted several miles southwest near the Athens Country Club and Golf Course along Hatfield Lake road off of Highway 31 and the EF Scale intensity has been raised to an EF-3 from an EF-2 rating. Several trees were snapped and uprooted along a path that crossed I-65 and Strain road.”
The second tornado on Friday afternoon was given an intensity ranking of EF1 with 120 mph wind speeds and on the ground for 2.6 miles after touching down just northwest of the intersection of Thach and Oak Grove road.
The NWS report states: “The tornado moved nearly due east paralleling Thach road for much of its life cycle. The tornado appeared to skip along its path, leaving some structures and trees intact, but damaging others. The tornado finally lifted east of Highway 251.”
This tornado uprooted trees and caused minor structural damaged to a few homes, a garage and a barn.
The rankings are given on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which ranks intensity of tornadoes based on injuries to people, structural damage and damage to vegetation.