April 1977 Birmingham tornado

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Smithfield area hit by an F5 tornado on April 4, 1977 (NWS Birmingham)

The April 1977 Birmingham tornado was a powerful tornado that struck the northern suburbs of the Greater Birmingham Area in central Alabama during the afternoon of April 4, 1977.

Birmingham tornado[edit]

Beginning just a few miles north of Birmingham near Tarrant, the tornado proceeded north through northern Jefferson County producing F5 damage in Smithfield, northeast of Ensley. The tornado, which was at times 34 mile (1.2 km) wide, was blamed for 22 deaths, more than 125 injuries, and $25 million in damage. Hundreds of homes were completely destroyed, many of which were completely swept away, despite being well-built. Some of the homes built into hillsides even had their cinder-block basement walls swept away. Many trees in the area were snapped and debarked and vehicles were thrown and destroyed. Two dump-trucks were thrown through the air near I-65 as well. Daniel Payne College suffered extensive damage, forcing it to permanently close due to the extent of the destruction.[1] Dr. Ted Fujita followed the tornado and supercell from an airplane and while surveying damage he rated the Smithfield tornado an F5.[2]

Other tornadoes[edit]

Outbreak death toll
State Total County County
total
Alabama 23 Jefferson 22
St. Clair 1
Georgia 1 Floyd 1
Totals 24
All deaths were tornado-related

In addition to this tornado, several other tornadoes were reported from the same system in the Midwest, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina. One tornado in Floyd County, Georgia, killed one person, and another fatality was reported east of Birmingham in St. Clair County. The severe weather that day also contributed to the crash of Southern Airways Flight 242, which crashed near New Hope, Georgia, killing 70 people.[citation needed]

The F5 tornado touched down near the end of the path of three other violent tornadoes that struck the Birmingham region in 1956, 1998, and 2011. The 1956 tornado was an F4 that struck McDonald Chapel, killing 25. In 1998, an F5 tornado started north of Tuscaloosa before ending southwest of Tarrant after killing 32. The 2011 tornado was an EF4 that devastated Tuscaloosa before moving across northern Hueytown as well as Fultondale, killing 64 people.[1]

Tornado table[edit]

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
1 9 6 4 0 1 21

Tornadoes confirmed[edit]

April 4, 1977[edit]

F# Location County Time (CDT) Path length Damage
Mississippi
F1 SW of Florence Rankin 0600 0.1 mile (0.16 km)
F3 NE of Philadelphia Neshoba, Kemper 0800 11.7 miles (18.7 km) Two homes, two trailers, a store, and a beauty shop were destroyed. A house and other structures were damaged. $85,000 in damage.
F3 S of Macon Calhoun 0900 9.1 miles (14.6 km) A trailer, a house, and a silo were destroyed. Other farm structures were damaged and one person was injured. $25,000 in damage.
Missouri
F0 SE of Hannibal Marion 0930 0.2 mile (0.32 km)
Alabama
F2 N of Hanceville Cullman 1112 5.9 miles (9.4 km) Two homes were badly damaged and two trailers were destroyed.
F2 SE of Scottsboro Jackson 1220 6.9 miles (11 km) 16 homes and four farm buildings were damaged.
F2 SW of Ragland St. Clair 1230 0.5 miles (0.8 km) Two homes were destroyed and three others were badly damaged.
F2 S of Springville St. Clair 1400 3.3 miles (5.3 km) One house and five barns were destroyed in the Springville area. Five other homes and 10 barns were damaged.
F3 SE of Ashville St. Clair 1430 7.3 miles (11.7 km) 1 death - A business, a house, and three trailers were destroyed. A woman was killed by a falling tree. 16 other homes were damaged.
F2 S of Southside Etowah 1430 4.7 miles (7.5 km) Three houses and six trailers were destroyed. 17 outbuildings and nine homes were damaged as well.
F5 NW of Birmingham to NE of Tarrant Jefferson 1500 14.7 miles (23.5 km) 22 deaths - See section above
Kentucky
F1 N of Elkton Todd 1330 0.8 mile (1.3 km)
Georgia
F3 S of Lindale Floyd 1515 8.8 miles (14.1 km) 1 death - Major damage in the Lindale area. 12 trailers were destroyed and nine others were damaged. Four frame homes were destroyed and 20 others were badly damaged. Three farms sustained major damage, and four others sustained lesser damage. 15 people were injured.
F1 S of Adairsville Bartow 1530 5.7 miles (9.1 km) Three trailers, three houses, eight chicken houses, and seven service buildings were destroyed. Multiple other structures were damaged.
F1 SE of Chatsworth Murray 1545 2 miles (3.2 km)
F1 SE of Dahlonega Lumpkin 1900 5.2 miles (8.3 km) Five chicken houses were destroyed and 15 others were damaged. Five homes were damaged, and major tree damage occurred as well.
Indiana
F1 Edgewood Madison 1700 0.5 mile (0.8 km)
North Carolina
F1 NW of Elkin Wilkes 2030 6.4 miles (10.2 km)
Sources: Storm Data for April 4, 1977, Grazulis (1977)

April 5, 1977[edit]

F# Location County Time (CDT) Path length Damage
Georgia
F1 NE of Sparks Cook 0145 5.4 miles (8.7 km)
Virginia
F1 N of Onancock Accomack 0800 2 miles (3.2 km)
Pennsylvania
F2 SE of Harrisburg Dauphin 1550 2 miles (3.2 km) Six homes were destroyed and 29 others were damaged. A woman was injured when her trailer was overturned.
Sources: Storm Data for April 5, 1977, Grazulis (1977)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]