The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Tornado Outbreak 2011

December 28, 2011

Top Stories of 2011: Strange twists of April 27

- — In the weeks following the tornado outbreak of April 27, residents began bringing torn pieces of paper and muddy cancelled checks to The News Courier office.

But these items were not trash — they were dropped from the sky by the violent storms and brought to reporters out of curiosity or in hopes of finding the owner.

Some examples:

• Donna McPherson of Owens found a page from a yearbook showing students wearing basketball uniforms. The name of the school on the jerseys was Phil Campbell, a community 80 miles away.

• Lt. Brad Curnutt with the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office found a checkbook that belonged to a person who was killed by the EF5 in Phil Campbell.

• Jessie Cox found a utility bill from Smithville, Miss., — a town also struck by an EF5 on April 27, on Salem-Minor Hill Road and Keri Laurence found a Town of Smithville check in Coxey. Smithville is 128 miles from Athens.

• A.J. Price and Wes Hughes found a Hackleburg Housing Authority document at the Sportsplex.

Patty Bullion of Lester started a Facebook page called “Pictures and Documents Found After the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes” to help return items to their owners. It now has 98,800 followers posting prom photos, marriage certificates and Army discharge papers.

Travel of debris in tornadoes is common but it is more unusual for items to be found long distances from the storm, said John Snow, Regents’ professor at the University of Oklahoma, who studied the phenomenon of debris transport for three years. Often, though, the debris may be branches or leaves so people have no idea how far it’s traveled.

The majority of debris falls within a mile or two of the storm but Snow found in a study that a small fraction of debris can travel 100-150 miles. The items that travel long distances are sucked up into the funnel, traveling tens of thousands of feet into the air, before dropping back down to earth.

Here are a few of the stories reported in The News Courier after the storms:

Text Only
Tornado Outbreak 2011
Poll

A recent national telephone survey found 75 percent of respondents believe the sale and use of pot will eventually be legal nationwide. Do you think marijuana should be legal in Alabama?

Yes
No
No, but I don’t think pot smokers should go to jail
Yes, but only for medical use
Yes, but only for personal adult use
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee