Greene - Hale - Bibb - Chilton F-4
Tornado January 11, 1885

Estimated Maximum Wind:
200+ mph
20 Injured/ At least 2 Fatalities
Damage Path Length:
80 miles
Maximum Path Width:
500 Yards
Approximate Start Point/Time:
SW Boligee at 630 pm
Approximate End Point/Time:
East of Jemison at Coosa River
Path Estimated from Accounts

 Greene County - On last Sunday night, a tornado swept across the southern portion of the county, carrying death and destruction in its path. The day had been showery and unusually warm for the season. About dark, a heavy rain accompanied by thunder and incessant lightning fell over a broad belt of the country on both sides of the subsequent path of the storm. Quite early in the night, an unusual phosphorescent glow in the southwest was observed. The tornado seems to have originated in this county at or near the Tombigbee River, as we have no accounts of it beyond that river. Soon after the dissappearance of the luminous glow, three intensely black clouds, of sugar loaf shape, advanced rapidly from the southwest. The two outer clouds moved in a line with each other at an apparent distance of a quarter mile apart. The third one followed at a distance in the rear, the three forming angles of a huge triangle. All these clouds were seething and boiling as if convulsed with violent forces. The spaces between them glowed with intense electrical corruscations. The three rapidly moving clouds, the electric flashes and the thunderous roar of their swift rush through the heavens formed a sublime and dreadful spectacle. It was this roar coming out of the southwest and approaching nearer and nearer that attrached the attention of so many citizens of Eutaw and filled them with apprehension that a cyclone was approaching the town.  The roar passed rapidly towards the northeast and gradually died away in the distance. The heavens were ablaze with incessant lightning along the path of the receding storm.

The tornado seems to have formed and advanced a considerable distance at some elevation above the surface. The three funnel-shaped clouds were not touching the ground but were leaning towards and rapidly approaching the surface. Their first point of contact was at Hohenlinden, where a small outhouse was demolished. The three clouds seemed to have coalesced at this point and the more than giant strength of the storm was fully developed. Half a mile east of Hohnlinden, it struck the Powell Place, demolishing most of the buildings, uprooting or tearing to pieces the stoutest trees, prostrating fences, maiming stock and killing horses. A negro woman was killed by the timbers of a fallen house and when taken from the ruins, her infant child was still clasped in her arms and was alive. From this point, the storm, now a quarter of a mile wide, swept through a dense grove leaving scarce a tree standing. Skirting the buildings on Martin Place, and doing little damage except blowing down some fences, it struck a narrow belt of timbered land. The largest trees were either uprooted or were shivered into fragments. The residence of McAlpine, flanked by numerous outhouses was in the center of the path east of the timbered land. The ginhouse was demolished and its timber and contents scattered in all directions. A few cotton bales lying outside were hurled a considerable distance along the storms path. Every negro cabin was destroyed. Corncribs, fodder houses, stables, tool houses, wagon sheds, and cattle covers were swept clean away. The fodder was hopelessly lost, the corn scattered and every tool, farming impelment and vehicle was shivered into pieces or was blown away. The kitchen and the store room, with all of their contents, were irrecoverably scattered. The dwelling house, built of stout logs, doubled rooms below and above, with a dining room attached, was demolished down to the basement floor and the entire contents of every description driven into fragments or scattered far and wide over the adjacent fields. An strange to say, not a single human being or animal perished on the McAlpine place. The storm moved on destroying cabins and killing a negro boy on the Bird Plantation. In Greene County, the tornado was one quarter of a mile wide and its course was about 78 degrees.

The storm entered Hale County around 7 pm. It crossed the Warrior River about 8 miles below the crossing of the Alabama Great Southern Railroad, then passed midway between Greensboro and Green Springs. The track of the storm was one half mile wide. It left but a few houses standing in its course, only the best built dwellings resisted its force.  Immense tracts of forest lands were most seriously damaged. Some roads were so blocked that it took days to clear them. No l;ives were lost in the county but many were injured. Cotton bales weighing at least 500 lbs were carried up to a half mile away. Two strongly built churches were blown away, mt Hebron and Five Mile. The electrical display attending the storm was magnificent.

The tornado entered Bibb County just above the Perry County line, its course almost due east. The storm passed below Centreville and near Randolph. Its path was a mile wide and great damage was done to houses, fencing, and timber. Houses a mile or two away from the track shook as if an earthquake. Thousands of trees were felled and many roads were rendered impassable. One person was killed and one injured while several were injured. Some stock was killed.

Between 8 and 9 pm, the tornado passed a half mile north of Jemison doing considerable damage to timber. The sides and roof of a house near Jemison were blown away, leaving a family seated in their chairs unharmed. Some trees were blown across a railroad track and a freight train was derailed. The path of the tornado was three hundred yards wide on either side, making the track nearly one thousand yards wide.

The tornado passed Marble Valley, Mt Olive, and Goodwater. Its immediate track was a half mile wide destroying everything. The damage direction was about 20 degree north of east. Five miles north of Mt Olive, the destruction of property was very great. 16 farms were devastated and public roads were blocked. The storm passed about 2 miles north of Goodwater around 915 pm. In several places on the north side of the path, there seemed to be secondary whirls independent of the main one some 100 to 200 yards away.  This storm was about 16 miles north of the one that occurred on May 1st,  1876.

The storm continued its destruction into Clay County. It blew down houses near Pinkeyville, passing through the southern portion of the county. Great timber damage was reported.

The tornado then passed between Wedowee and Roanoke blowing down a great many homes and killing two people.

Report Courtesy of Digitized by Google & American Meteorological Journal May 1885 Page 43

News Article



Estimated View F4 & F3 Tornado 1 11 1885 in a larger map is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.