Tornado Strikes West Jefferson County on Super Tuesday, Seriously Injuring 4 People

Extreme winds tore through much of West Jefferson County on Tuesday, and storm experts have officially announced that the harrowing conditions are being classified as a tornado.

According to local news affiliate Fox 10 TV, WBRC weatherman J-P Dice estimated that wind speeds reached between 100 and 120 mph during the storm. The tornado comes on the heels of severe weather throughout most of Alabama, which began in mid-February and caused widespread property damage.

As of 11:00 p.m., the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office had counted 12 homes with significant damage, with four people suffering serious injuries. Oasis of Praise Church on Pocahontas Rd. was open throughout the night to shelter displaced residents.

Jefferson County Emergency Management Director Jim Coker urged locals to stay off the roads during the storm so emergency crews could deal with fallen trees and power lines. Power remains out in most of the county, and transformers have stopped working along Highway 95.

Among the 12 homes along Dickey Springs Rd. that showed significant damage, at least four were completely leveled or had their roofs torn off. Metal roofs can resist winds up to 140 mph, but unfortunately, many homes in the area did not have them installed.

In another instance of property damage, a pastor from Grace Life Baptist Church in McCalla told reporters that the steeple was blown off of the building. The roof also suffered severe damage, and some of the church’s windows were blown out due to the high-speed winds.

Local news affiliate WSLS 10 spoke to homeowner Ben Allison, a former fire battalion chief whose roof caved in during the storm.

“I told my wife, I said, ‘get in the laundry room,’ and I didn’t even have time to grab my dog. As soon as I got her in, the door closed shut. I got on top of her, and I hear my roof leave or be drawn away,” Allison said.

Gas crews continue to peruse the affected areas to ensure that there are no leaks that have yet to be found. EMTs are knocking on doors of damaged homes in case any residents are still in need of medical attention.

In addition to the winds, many residents recalled seeing golf ball-sized hail falling from the sky during the tornado. There have been no fatalities reported as of yet, but the totality of the storm’s damage will not be known for several more days.