McDonald Chapel F-4 Tornado - Jefferson County 
April 15, 1956


F-4
Estimated Maximum Wind:
210-261 mph (from the original F-Scale)
Injuries/Fatalities:
200 Injuries / 25 Fatalities
Damage Path Length:
21.3 miles
Maximum Path Width:
200 yards
Approximate Start Point/Time:
33.5194/-86.9319 at 300 pm
Approximate End Point/Time:
33.6343/-86.6842
Notes:
None


Personal Account of the Tornado
Tornado Information

From the Birmingham National Weather Service archives, here is the information regarding this tornado damage and the ensuing storm surveys:


Page 1

archive survey info
Page 2

archive survey info
Page 3

archive survey info
Page 4

It is apparent from the notes taken during this survey that the 20 mile track that has been part of the story of this tornado, is not necessarily the case.  The map below indicates the track of the actual circulation on the ground (purple line between the noted points).  The green line at the beginning of the path was noted as straight line winds.  The green line at the end of the path was attributed to wind damage not associated with this storm.

 

 


View McDonald Chapel (Jefferson) 15 Apr 1956 in a larger map
 

Local Storm Reports

Newspaper Clipping

 

Storm Survey Pictures (captions are the hand written notes from the survey) 

Damage
Looking SW from atop hill in McDonald Chapel

Damage
Across road from photo #1, but looking NE

Damage
Looking NE.  One body was found at man's feet
and two others at about the position of the camera

Damage
Looking SE.  Next door to photo #2.  There was almost
total destruction within a 300 yard path atop this hill

Damage
Looking NE.  Local church destroyed.

Damage
Looking W, on the floor of Stacy Hollow

Damage
Stacy Hollow.  Note unusual total destruction in this area.
Looking NE, the arrow points to the church destroyed in photo #5

Damage
Looking W along ridge west of Stacy Hollow.
Tornado dipped into Stacy Hollow and into McDonald
Chapel. Small home in background untouched

Damage
Looking S.  Near photos #1-5.

Damage
General view, looking NE across Stacy Hollow.
Arrows indicate damage from photo #8

Damage
Looking SE in McDonald Chapel area, near school. Note concrete block under auto fender with no damage to fender. Whether this auto is at home is not known

Damage
Looking NE, from the same area as #11.  Note Chinaberry tree completely stripped, also almost all of brick foundation had been torn away

Damage
Same as #9, but looking more SSW.  Man in photo lost 3 members of his family in home about two blocks to the right

Damage
Looking NE.  Entire building at right was removed.  Several total losses in left center of photo in McDonald Chapel

Damage
Same as #8, looking same direction

Damage
Looking NE, in general direction of #10.  Again, width of path can be seen as it crosses the ridge in background, marked by two ink marks

 

Additional Damage Pictures 

Damage

Damage

Damage
 

Damage

Damage

Damage
Aerials were taken, but this was the best one, as the rest were even more blurry

 

Synoptic Set Up (Hand Written Analyses from April 15th, 1956) 

Damage
Surface at 10 pm, Saturday, April 14th

Damage
Surface at 10 am, Sunday, April 15th

Damage
500mb at 10 pm, Saturday, April 14th 

Damage
500mb at 10 am, Sunday, April 15th

 

Local Newspaper Accounts of Storm
(from The Birmingham News on April 16, 1956)
 

Newspaper Clipping

Newspaper Clipping

Newspaper Clipping

 
 


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