published Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Meteorologists confirm 2 tornadoes in Alabama

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Tens of thousands of homes and businesses remained without power across Alabama Tuesday night, a day after storms brought two tornadoes to the northeast region of the state and toppled trees and utility lines elsewhere.

The National Weather Service confirmed that two EF-2 tornadoes hit Marshall and DeKalb Counties as the Monday afternoon storm traveled eastward.

A tornado hit the Fyffe and Shiloh areas of DeKalb County and recorded top wind speeds of about 120 mph, said Huntsville-based National Weather Service Meteorologist Chelly Amin. Another twister originated in Marshall County and moved into DeKalb, striking Kilpatrick — a primarily rural area — and recording a top wind speed of about 125 mph. The tornado traveled about four miles and recorded a maximum width of about 220 yards, Amin said.

The storm left about 70 people displaced in DeKalb County and seven people were treated and released with minor injuries, county Emergency Management Agency Director Anthony Clifton said. He added that many volunteers from within the county stepped forward to help those who were affected by the storm, and a shelter was established in Crossville for displaced residents.

Severe damage was reported near Heil manufacturing plant in Fort Payne and Clifton said high winds peeled off the building’s roof and sent it crashing into Fort Payne High School.

“A lot of the metal took down their fences for the football field, their baseball fields, the soccer fields — all those fences were severely damaged,” Clifton said.

Albertville and sections of Cullman County were also damaged by straight line winds of between 90 and 105 mph, Amin said.

Etowah County officials said a person had to be removed from a house in Rainbow City after a tree fell onto it. Nearly two dozen trees had toppled onto Alabama Highway 77.

Eight people in the Gadsden area and five others in the county were hospitalized Monday night, but the extent of their injuries was not immediately clear, Gadsden-Etowah County Emergency Management Agency director Mike Bryant said.

Alabama Power officials said the number of customers without service Tuesday night was down to about 69,100 from the 98,200 who were without power as of 6 a.m. Tuesday, and less than half of the more than 222,000 customers left powerless after the Monday storms.

Alabama Power officials said the utility was bringing in reinforcements from other states to help its own repair crews.

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