Verbena tornado was 700 yards across, stayed on ground for 28 miles

Published 9:51 pm Monday, March 5, 2012

The Verbena tornado stayed on the ground for 28 miles Friday night, according to National Weather Service crews who have surveyed the damage path.

The tornado touched down just east of Interstate 65 south of exit 200, where a few trees were snapped or uprooted.

The twister quickly strengthened and grew to 700 yards wide as it crossed County Road 503. It then moved east across U.S. 31, near the intersection with County Road 526.

Winds intensified to 125 miles per hour, destroying one home and causing significant damage to another, as well as mowing down hundreds of trees around the houses.

The tornado continued to snap and uproot trees as it neared County Road 5245, where it demolished two single-wide manufactured homes and caused significant damage to two houses.

The Weather Service says 13 homes were destroyed or damaged near Verbena.

As the twister crossed into Coosa County, it weakened considerably and became narrower. This weak, but continuous, damage path continued across south central Coosa County.

The storm then crossed U.S. 231 south of Pentonville, where a grove of pine trees was snapped. It continued across Alabama 9 before eventually dissipating south of County Road 63 northeast of Nixburg.

The tornado touched down at 10:01 p.m. and eventually lifted at 10:33 p.m. A tornado warning was in effect from 9:45 p.m. to 10:42 p.m.

The same storm system produced tornado damage before and after it came across southern Chilton County.

An EF-1 tornado raked through Perry, Dallas and Autauga counties for 19.5 miles before the Verbena twister touched down. The storm spawned another EF-2 tornado in Tallapoosa and Chambers counties.

Alabama’s only fatality in the March 2 storms occurred in Eagle Creek in Tallapoosa County, where a man died after his mobile home was lifted off the ground and destroyed.