|Photographs of the wrath of an F-4 tornado, taken November 16, 1989 by the NWS Birmingham Storm Survey team. At left, portions of the Waterford Square Apartment complex were completely destroyed. At right, an aerial photograph of the damage: for reference, the road going diagonally from lower right to top middle is Airport Road. (Click for a larger image) More pictures are available from the Birmingham storm survey link below.
Around 4:30 pm on Wednesday, November 15, 1989, a tornado touched down near Madkin Mountain on Redstone Arsenal, southwest of Huntsville. The tornado moved northeast towards the heavily-populated Airport Road area, where it would destroy or damage 80 businesses, 3 churches, a dozen apartment buildings, and more than 1,000 cars. It moved on, climbing over Garth Mountain, demolishing Jones Valley Elementary School, and destroying 259 homes in the Jones Valley area. The tornado then moved out into eastern Madison County, where it damaged the equipment and maintenance headquarters of Commission District 2 as well as a state forestry office, destroyed 3 more homes, a volunteer fire department, several barns and sheds, and numerous electrical towers.
All told, the tornado killed 21 people and injured 463. Rated an F4 on the Fujita Scale, it inflicted approximately $250 million in damage.
Storm Survey and Assessment (from NWS Birmingham) - A team of meteorologists from across the NWS Southern Region came together to survey the damage after the 1989 tornado. This document examines the meteorological causes, includes interviews and text products, as well as damage photos.
1989 Huntsville Tornado Poster - A poster showing photographs of damage and accounts of the storm is available for download.
NWS Huntsville Tornado Database Entry