RANDOLPH, Al. – It’s no secret that tornadoes do a lot of damage, and that they can loft debris into the air. Just weeks ago, I was visiting the damage site from the EF-4 tornado in Cookeville, Tennessee. One of the residents I spoke with said one of their neighbors’ photos was found 60 miles away.
As if that wasn’t mind-boggling enough, how about family photos that were lofted more than 100 miles away? That’s what happened after this past Easter Sunday’s tornado outbreak across the Deep South.
James Spann is the Chief Meteorologist for ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, Alabama and is known nationwide as being one of the best meteorologists on television. In a tweet, Spann reveals that wedding photos from a home destroyed in Collins, Mississippi were later found in Randolph, Alabama.
This photo was found by Michelle Gewalt at Randolph, AL. The bride in the picture is Heather Lail. It was at a family member’s home in Collins, MS, hit by an EF-4 tornado Sunday. The pic was in a container in a shed that is no longer there; it was lofted and carried 176 miles pic.twitter.com/bWXUDvutLE— James Spann (@spann) April 14, 2020
Similarly, Spann tweeted that there were more family photos from a house in Moss, Mississippi that were later found in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama.
This picture has been identified. It was lofted by an EF-4 at Moss, Mississippi. Traveled 121 miles to Tuscaloosa County Alabama. One of those that lived in the home is in critical condition. pic.twitter.com/ZFneQzQfuU— James Spann (@spann) April 14, 2020
The first photo traveled 176 miles, and the second traveled 121 miles. The 176 miles that the wedding photo traveled is the same distance as Bristol, Virginia to Natural Bridge. Insane...right?!
You might be asking, “How can this happen?”
Thunderstorms, tornadic or not, have intense updrafts (rising air). When the debris is lofted into the storm, it can stay suspended thousands of feet above while the storm travels. Once the rotation dies down and the storm exits, that debris can then fall out of the storm.
It’s important that we warn you of that the next time a tornado hits part of our area.
If a tornado moves through one part of the area and has produced a significant amount of damage, some of the debris suspended in the storm could fall miles down the road and cause additional damage.