This Day in History: February 28, 2011 Tornadoes


On February 28, 2011, the Tennessee Valley experienced two episodes of severe weather. The first round came in the form of showers and heavy storms during the morning hours along a pre-frontal border. The border was extended south from Kentucky, this line of storms progressed east through the region. The main threat to this front line was heavy rain, straight-line winds and even hail. Straight-line winds damaged the roof, knocked down poor pipes and downed trees. On the graph above, you will find the various wind and hail bulletins.

Tornadic activity was associated with the second set of thunderstorms which arrived in the late morning and afternoon. At this time, cloud breaks allowed sunshine, which led to increased instability. The instability of sunlight combined with a moisture-enriched atmosphere and significant shear created an environment conducive to the development of severe storms. A total of two tornadoes developed that day, the strongest being an EF-2 tornado which formed in south central Tennessee. One life was lost in this outbreak of severe weather and four others were injured.

The first tornado to touch down that day was a confirmed EF-1 tornado that moved through northern Madison and extreme northwest Jackson Counties. The tornado touched down just south of the Alabama-Tennessee state line between Greenville Pike and Everett Jones Roads. The tornado moved east about four miles before lifting just west of the School House Road area.

Along the nearly four-mile-long path, a well-constructed shed was demolished, several barns suffered major damage, and trees were snapped or uprooted. Peak winds were 95 mph, which likely occurred from Reeves Road to the east. At these locations, several sheds were demolished or had their roofs torn off and a mobile home had its roof torn off.

This Day in History: February 28, 2011 Tornadoes
Runway of the EF-2 Tornado that passed through south central Tennessee

The second tornado that touched down that day was an EF-2 that moved through Moore and Franklin counties in south central Tennessee. The tornado touched down along Tanyard Hill Road southeast of downtown Lynchburg. This tornado tracked east/northeast for twelve miles before lifting along Elk River Road on the west side of Woods Reservoir.

Along this twelve mile damage path, damage ranged from uprooted trees to a completely destroyed mobile home. Peak winds were 125 mph, which likely happened just as the tornado was moving through Franklin County. In places that experienced the strongest winds, mobile homes were destroyed or demolished and a volunteer fire department found extensive roof damage. One fatality occurred when a mobile home was picked up and thrown nearly 70 yards.

For more detailed information on this severe weather event, you can visit the Huntsville National Weather Service page.


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