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June 18, 2014

NWS: June 5 storm an EF-1 tornado

— A strong storm that damaged homes and destroyed a shed in southern Limestone County on June 5 was actually a small tornado, according to officials.

Damage caused by storm was recently surveyed by a team with the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s Department of Atmospheric Science. Based on the findings, the National Weather Service confirmed an EF-1 tornado struck Tanner.

Tony Lyza, graduate research assistant and master’s degree student with UAH’s Severe Weather Institute and Radar and Lightning Laboratories (SWIRLL), said his team’s research began after seeing a video purported to be a tornado. That video, shot by Rebecca Newbill, was posted to WHNT’s website.

Though the video clearly shows circulation, Lyza said the swirling dust was more likely caused by straight-line winds on the leading edge of the storm.

Andy Kula, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Huntsville, said the tornado’s track was relatively short at three-quarters of a mile. The EF-1 had a maximum wind speed of 90 mph where the damage occurred.

“It was very brief and very small,” he said, adding the tornado was likely on the ground less than 2 minutes. “It wasn’t your typical tornado day. We didn’t have a tornado watch or warning for that (storm).”

Lyza said the concentrated damage was just north of Rosie and Nuclear Plant roads. Other roads in the damage path included Griffith and Stewart roads and Winfred Drive. He added that team had a difficult time determining where the storm actually ended because damage from the April 27, 2011, outbreak is still evident.

Damage from the area included roof and shingle damage to homes and a pillar of a home on Stewart Drive that was pushed in. On Winfred Drive, a 30 foot-by-45 foot shed suffered a direct hit.

“It was completely destroyed,” Lyza said. “The storm passed between two houses and hit (the shed).”

Daphne Ellison, communications officer with the Limestone County Emergency Management Agency, said residents affected by the tornado called in damage to the EMA shortly after the storm hit. However, she said it’s unlikely that the state would seek another disaster declaration for the June 5 storm because of the relatively small amount of damage.

“It has to reach a certain threshold of insured damage to declare (a disaster area),” she said. “It was just concentrated on that one little area and not many people were affected.”

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