Confirmed Tornado Lee County Alabama on May 13 2012

The weather for Sunday May 13 2012 was not unexpected. However, being the weekend, there was not much coverage. You know how local TV stations are on weekends, nothing until the evening news, unless there is a weather warning of some type. For a full rundown on the lack of weather news that day, see here – Well, that was interesting..storms on May 13 2012..Only Human

On with the Tornado in Lee County Alabama report …

This was not a classic tornado, nor was it strong and long lived. It was what many in weather refer to as a ‘quick spin up’. Most tornadoes of this type occur due to an increasing unstable atmosphere in or around a strong thunderstorm. This is why you should take a ‘severe thunderstorm warning’ just as serious as a Tornado Warning, as many times a tornado can spin up. Another reason is because severe thunderstorms are capable of causing damage equal to small tornadoes such as the one here in Lee county due to straight line winds.

The funny thing about this Tornado, the Tornadic winds estimated in the official assessment below barely met criteria for a Severe Thunderstorm. That being winds of at least 58 mph (50 knots).

PRELIMINARY LOCAL STORM REPORT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BIRMINGHAM AL
109 PM CDT MON MAY 14 2012

0202 PM CDT TORNADO 2 SSW ROXANA 32.66N 85.69W
05/13/2012 F0 LEE AL EMERGENCY MNGR

THE TORNADO TOUCHED DOWN JUST WEST OF COUNTY ROAD 217 AND CROSSED THE ROAD WHERE IT DID DAMAGE TO TREE BRANCHES INCLUDING ONE DOWNED TREE BRANCH. THE TORNADO CONTINUED 2.1 MILES TO THE NORTHEAST AND CROSSED COUNTY ROAD 66 WHERE IT SNAPPED ONE SMALL PINE TREE BEFORE DISSIPATING. THIS EF-0 TORNADO HAD MAXIMUM WINDS OF 50 TO 60 MPH WITH A PATH WIDTH OF 50 YARDS.

Here’s a Radar storm-relative velocity capture I took at 3:09 EDT / 2:09 CDT while watching the storm:

Here are a couple maps of the area. The first showing a wide view of the area with landmarks, and the second zoomed in.

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2 thoughts on “Confirmed Tornado Lee County Alabama on May 13 2012

  1. It appears your radar image is from Peachtree City radar, is that correct? If so, you are overshooting the signature that prompted the warning by no less than 5000 feet, and likely more. The signature from the East Alabama WSR-88D, which was used as the basis for the warning, shows a very tight, compact rotation 300 feet off the deck…not the thousands of feet above the deck you're looking at. For a storm this weak, I would not expect a strong signature at this level.

  2. Hello John, sorry for the late reply.You are correct on the radar location. Guess I need to start saving that info. in the captures as well. :)I understand what you're saying here. I did use the lowest tilt in SRV [0.5°]. This would still be no less than 5000 feet above ?? I didn't use the East Alabama radar during this capture as there was to much ground clutter for me to see it clearly. You mention “For a storm this weak, I would not expect a strong signature at this level.” Comparing the signature I circled in the above capture, to the signature just above the polygon, I estimated the signature at 40 to 50 knots. This would correlate with the reported winds speeds of 50 to 60 MPH.Thanks for providing input about this. I still have a lot to learn.Ed

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