Other Disastrous Birmingham Area Tornadoes

The Birmingham, Alabama area has a history of severe and death-dealing tornadoes. Here are some of the very worst, condensed slightly from Significant Tornadoes--1680-1991

February 19, 1884 13 deaths F4
Jefferson and St Clair Counties--This tornado touched down south of Birmingham, near Oxmoor. Moving northeast, the tornado struck Brocks Gap, then intensified and leveled a large number of the newer homes on the south and east side of the new industrial town of Leeds in Shelby County. Thirteen people were killed there. Some homes reportedly had their foundations swept away. Most of the destroyed homes were made of brick. The tornado lifted southeast of Branchville. No deaths were confirmable outside Leeds, but five were rumored.

March 25, 1901 17 deaths F3
Jefferson County--The tornado moved across the southern part of Birmingham, to Avondale and Irondale. The tornado "bounced like a ball of rubber" and cut a snake-like path through 200 homes. Prominent citizens were killed, but most of the dead were poor people living in shacks. The 17 deaths were counted while others were still critically injured. The final toll may have been over 20.

April 24, 190835 deathsF4
Walker, Jefferson, Blount, Marshall, and Dekalb Counties--The first touchdown point was in southeast Walker County, where it produced a half-mile-wide damage track near Dora and through Bergens, killing twelve people. Most of Bergens was destroyed. Further northeast, two people were killed at Warrior, Jefferson County, one near Royal, Blount County, and two at Wynnville. Fifteen people were killed and 150 others were injured at the south edge of Albertville, Marshall County. Here, a nine-ton oil tank was reportedly carried for a half mile. The funnel dissipated at the north edge of Sylvania, DeKalb County. The path is plotted as a single tornado, but the nature of the forested and sparsely populated areas of the northern half of the track is such that a reformation would have been possible without being detected.

May 27, 1917 27 deaths F4
Jefferson and Blount Counties--What was probably two separate tornadoes moved east from Sayre and through Bradford. Dozens of small homes were "obliterated" in Sayre (9 dead) and at Bradford (17 dead). An infant was killed at Village Springs, Blount County.

May 5, 1933 21 deaths F4
Bibb and Shelby Counties--This tornado moved north-northeast from south of Brent to the southeast edge of Centerville. Small homes were swept away near Brent (5 dead), and Colemont (two dead). At Helena, 14 people were killed and 150 more were injured as most of the town's population was left homeless.

April 15, 1956 25 deaths F4
Jefferson County--McDonalds Chapel was devastated. About 400 buildings were damaged or destroyed. Most of the homes were of very poor construction, and many were swept completely away, in F5 fashion. A few larger homes were also leveled.

April 4, 1977 22 deaths F5
Jefferson County--This powerful tornado moved from northwest of downtown Birmingham to Tarrant. It destroyed 167 homes and heavily damaged 48 more. Daniel Payne College sustained $1,300,000 damage alone, while the total damage estimate for the entire tornado path was $15,000,000. It moved at 60mph, and at one point was three quarters of a mile wide. Cars and trucks were "hurled like matchsticks" from I-65.

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