A comprehensive survey of this damaging severe storm system was conducted within 2 days of the event by meteorologists from the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Mobile. Surveys were conducted by helicopter and ground teams. The aerial survey was conducted with the assistance of the United States Coast Guard Air Training Command Group stationed at Mobile's Bates Field Airport.
Doppler radar analyses of the time...location and evolutionary structure of the thunderstorms was used to supplement the survey information. Ground crews were able to survey the following Southern Alabama damage locations:
McIntosh (Washington County)
A line of severe thunderstorms moved across Southeast Mississippi into Southwest Alabama shortly before 11 A.M. CST Monday. Shortly after crossing the Mississippi - Alabama border the storm produced a microburst (known as damaging straight - line severe thunderstorm with winds greater than 57 mph) over McIntosh, Alabama. Severe thunderstorm winds were estimated to be in excess of 80 mph in the McIntosh microburst. Several trailer homes were completely destroyed. Five injuries were reported. Tree and structural damage tapered significantly immediately southwest of McIntosh (towards Simms Chapel). Aerial and ground surveys clearly indicated a distinct "fanning out" of the damage pattern which is often typical of a microburst. NWS doppler radar data were also consistent indicating a microburst signature to be present at a time when the storm was located over McIntosh.
The McIntosh severe thunderstorm produced a strong outflow boundary that eventually moved southeast into northern Baldwin County. This boundary helped to initiate a bowing shape along the thunderstorm line (known as a bow echo due to its radar appearance) that would eventually track northeast from baldwin County to Covington County. The bow echo produced the majority of the significant damage seen that day from southern Monroe County east through the Evergreen...Andalusia areas.
Little River State Park (Uriah in Monroe County)
It was noted by officials with the Alabama Forestry Commission (AFC) that the downed pine timber in the Little River State Park possessed some of the largest known diameters of old growth longleaf pine in this region. The highest severe wind gusts associated with the Little River damage area was estimated by NWS meteorologists to be 80 to 100 mph. NWS Officials have determined that this was also most likely a very strong downburst (microburst). One serious injury was reported at Little River when a large longleaf pine fell on a pickup truck occupied by an AFC official.
Evergreen (Conecuh County)
Damage was initially reported at Middleton Field Airport east of Evergreen. Damage at the airport was noted to a few aircraft (wing damage) as well as to most of the hangar doors operated by the U.S. Navy for storage of T-34 training aircraft. No injuries were reported at Middleton Field. No Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) reports were available at the time of the high winds due to a lightning strike at the ASOS site moments before. NWS meteorologists who viewed the damage determined that it was most likely caused by severe straight line winds.
The Downtown district of Evergreen sustained substantial damage to several businesses and well established homes. One building in the downtown district had its roof collapse during the high winds. A few injuries were also reported. Several hundred trees were downed by the severe thunderstorm winds between Middleton Field and downtown. NWS Meteorologists determined all of the damage in Evergreen was due to extreme downburst winds (straight - line winds).
Pigeon Creek - Red Level (Covington County)
Shortly after moving across the Conecuh - Covington County line (around 1250 P.M.)...a tornado developed on the leading edge of the bow echo and struck the Pigeon Creek community (near Red Level). The tornado was rated an F1. Wind speeds for an F1 tornado range between 74 mph and 112 mph. The tornado completely demolished one trailer home, seriously damaged another and tore a large portion of the roof off of several brick homes. The actual tornado was between 50 and 70 yards wide and was 3.2 miles in length. The tornado killed two persons (a grandmother and her young grandchild). Witnessess described the time of the tornado touchdown in Pigeon Creek as shortly after 1 P.M. CST.
The last known significant event occurred east of Pigeon Creek between Boykin and Oaky Streek in rural southern Butler County. In this location...a microburst toppled several hundred mature longleaf pine trees with wind gusts estimated to be in excess of 80 mph.
Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued by the NWS Forecast Office in Mobile in advance of each damaging event described above. From the accounts listed in this report, it can easily be seen that severe thunderstorms can and sometimes do produce extreme damaging wind gusts equal to those found in tornadoes and hurricanes. Severe thunderstorm warnings should be taken as equally serious as tornado and hurricane warnings.
Prepared by Jeffrey Medlin, Jeff Garmon, Eric Christensen, Ron Ferguson, Eric Esbensen, and Gary Beeler of the NWS Office in Mobile.