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April « 2011 « South Sumter Fire

Archive for April, 2011

Cromwell-Halsell Fire Department…

Low, but still flying!

Amid all the coverage from other portions of the State of Alabama, the northern portion of Choctaw County has been somewhat “forgotten” in the mix.  On Wednesday evening a deadly EF-3 tornado was on the ground and churning across the state line where it caused multiple deaths in the Clarke County, Mississippi area.  The tornado tore into the Cromwell-Halsell and Edna communities with fury and thankfully there were no deaths, but plenty of injuries and massive damage.  The men and women of the HCVFD and civilians in the community went straight to work getting the roads open and taking care of the injured.  Units from the Choctaw County Rescue Squad and other fire and EMS services were on the scene along with the Choctaw County S.O.  When the sun came up the next morning the true nature of the damage was just beginning to sink in.  The Cromwell-Halsell area is located along the north and south sides of Choctaw County Road 32.  The tornado followed the county road and crossed in multiple times forcing rescuers to open one section of the road and then move to the next location where the storm crossed the road. 

The members of the HCVFD were out taking care of their community while many left damaged homes behind.  In addition to the damage to personal property the fire station was destroyed and the apparatus housed there was damaged and not serviceable after the storm.  Chief Willie Bryant stated that, “I knew the station was destroyed when I found the checkbook of the lady who lived across from the fire station miles down the road.”  Other members of the department stated that they were in tears when the looked at the destruction of their station.  The HCVFD is a relatively new fire department and the building that served as their station was only a few years old.  By morning assistance was on the way from various sources and Choctaw County Sheriff Tom Abate was in the area to lend assistance with his deputies.  Before the sun set on Thursday Ray Hogans, AAVFD District 8 Director, was securing equipment from his area to assist the department.  On Friday morning he left with two engines and other equipment to put the department back in service as a firefighting force.  Chief Gib Hixon, Fish River/Marlow Fire and Rescue, arrived with his command and went directly to work assisting the department in cleaning up their area.  By Saturday evening the cleanup of the fire station was well underway and the area was working hard to get back to normal.  It is going to be a long way back to normal for the area and the HCVFD and the people in this little corner of the world could sure use your help. 

 First look inside the building at HCVFD.

The department’s newest engine showing quite  a bit of damage after the station landed on it.

The departments oldest engine recieved some cosmetic damage, but will return to service rather quickly.  This old work horse was formally Cuba Fire Deparmtent’s Engine 2.  Notice how the tornado unloaded the hose from both engines.

The office and meeting area at the department.

Standing where the office used to be. 

 

The rear of the apparatus bay. 

A look at the station from the road.

On Saturday, the Fish River/Marlow Fire Rescue and members from the Butler Fire Department were on scene to assist the HCVFD in clearning up their station.

One of the engines provided by Ray Hogans alongside the deparmtent’s damaged and out of service apparatus.

Incredible…

The lastest update from the SPC has placed a 45% risk for Tornadoes over a portion of Alabama.  This hatched area covers the northern portion of Sumter County.  This number being placed on the map is very troubling and indicates that a significant threat is only getting worse.  This number indicates that there is nearly a 50/50 chance that a tornado will strike within 25 miles of any point in the hatched area.

A Dangerous Weather Day…

The SPC has moved the Sumter County area to a high risk of severe weather for the day.  At this present time the SPC is also about to issue a new Tornado Watch for the area that will be a PDS Watch (Particularly Dangerous Situation).  The risk numbers are high with the Sumter area sitting in a 30% risk area for tornadoes.  Below are the graphics for this dangerous weather situation.

 

A rare high risk is written in for the area.

Latest Graphic from the SPC on the Tornado Watch that will shortly be issued.

A troubling graphic for sure.  The potential for isolated storms is garnering the attention of the SPC and the local NWS offices.

Severe Weather Risk…

April is most certainly severe weather season in the deep south and in many other areas of the country, and this April has most certainly been no exception.  Tomorrow promises to be another one of those severe weather days that we will remember for some time.  While the present thinking is that the most severe weather will be north of our immediate area, the forecast parameters from the SREF model indicates that there is a significant risk over the area for severe weather tomorrow.  In addition to the model output the SPC has placed the area under a moderate risk of severe weather tomorrow.  The latest graphic has our area on the southern edge of the area, but what happens tomorrow morning will decide where the new risk lines fall for tomorrow.  Here is the current graphics as of this evening.

The graphic above tells the story.  There is a 45% chance that severe weather will occur within 25 miles of any point in the hatched area.

 These graphics are all from 1600 hours local time tomorrow afternoon.  This graphic indicates that the CAPE numbers will be around 3000.  This is a significant number.

The Cravens Brooks Significant Severe parameter is sitting around 90,000 directly over the South Sumter area tomorrow.  These numbers are very high.

The last graphic is the Significant Tornado Parameter.  The output shows a six over the the twin states area.  Most meteorologist advise that anything above a 1 or 2 is troublesome.  This area sits in the middle of a 6. 

Stay tuned tomorrow and remember to report any damage or severe weather in your area to the National Weather Service.

Sumter County Tornado Damage….

Friday was one of those days that we will not forget any time soon.  The Sumter County area was hit by two separate strong tornadoes in the same day.  There haven’t been too many days like this in the history of Sumter County, but it is always the type of day that is in the back of the minds of public safety officials.  The Sumter area was in the quiet zone for the better part of the morning and areas to our North and to our South were being hit hard.  It wasn’t too long before the combination of daytime heating and other atmospheric dynamics began  to cause trouble.  The first storm to enter the county carrying a warning was aimed dead at Geiger.  This storm had a history of producing a tornado in the Kemper County area.  The NWS Birmingham did a great job and the information was transmitted to the North Sumter VFD with plenty of lead time.  It is important to note that this is not the typical tornado warning.  This was a confirmed tornado emergency.  There was a visual on the storm and plenty of reports of damage.  The radar image below shows quite clearly that the tornado hit Geiger head on.  Our hat is off to North Sumter Asst. Fire Chief David Warkentin and his people.  Further, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention all of the other help that came up from the Sumter County Rescue Squad and South Sumter departments (including Deputy Chief Holder and Firefighter/EMR Smith (Belmont-McDowell).  Here are a few images that were taken by J. Hughes.

Mt. Calvary Baptist Church in Geiger.

Soul’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Geiger.

The next storm to strike the area was aimed at the South Sumter area.  Chief Vaughan was manning the radar and NWS connection while many other units were out in the field keeping and eye on the storms.  Chief Vaughan activated Cuba’s warning siren and returned to the radar screen to watch the ominous echo approach.  Engineer Scrivner was on US Highway 80 Spur and had a visual on rotation as it moved over the town proper.  It was only a few moments and the word came over the radio that the tornado was on the ground on US Highway 80.  Captain Wright and Chief Pendergrass were in position to intercept the storm and maintain a visual on it from a safe location as it approached Alabama Highway 17.  The tornado plowed through the area and it was followed by the units.  Chief Pendergrass lost the storm in the vicinity of County Road 13.  Crews were working right away to open the roads and assess the damage.  Below are a few images from the storm.

Map of the tornado’s path that was prepared on Saturday during the damage/storm assessment.  The path was just under 9 miles long.

The tornado crossed Ben Kidd Road and was around 100 yards wide when it cut its path.

Image captured by Captain Wright and his wife Courtney as the tornado crossed AL17.  While we can’t see it on the ground the pictures that follow will confirm what they say.  We hope to have the video uploaded later in the week

Damage along Alabama 17 at Scratch Hill.

Perhaps the most compelling picture was made by the NWS during the helicopter based storm survey.  This is the massive amount of damage that was done as the storm moved through the Post Oak Hunting Club.  The damage was huge and looks even worse when walking through it. 

The following two images were made on 3rd Street in Cuba and are of damage that was caused by another severe storm that impacted the area after the tornadic cell was clear of the area. 

The men and women of South Sumter Fire Deparmtents and the top notch staff of the National Weather Service in Birmingham did a wonderful job during this incident.  It is good that days like this don’t come around very often, but it is great that training and preparation pays off.

NWS Storm Survey Data

…GEIGER TORNADO (SUMTER COUNTY)…

PRELIMINARY DATA…
EVENT DATE: APRIL 15, 2011
EVENT TYPE: EF-3 TORNADO
ESTIMATED PEAK WINDS (MPH): 140-150
INJURIES/FATALITIES: NONE
EVENT START LOCATION AND TIME: 32.8472/-88.3569 AT 145 PM
EVENT END LOCATION AND TIME: 32.8917/-88.1835 AT 204 PM
DAMAGE PATH LENGTH (IN MILES): 10.5
DAMAGE WIDTH (IN YARDS): 1 MILE

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE METEOROLOGISTS SURVEYED THE DAMAGE NEAR
GEIGER VIA HELICOPTER. IT HAS BEEN DETERMINED THAT THE DAMAGE WAS
CONSISTENT WITH A TORNADO. WINDS WERE ESTIMATED AT 140-150 MPH…AND
THIS TORNADO WAS WITNESSED BY DOZENS OF PEOPLE AND STORM SPOTTERS.
THE TORNADO WAS A CONTINUATION OF AN EF-3 TORNADO MOVING EAST OUT OF
KEMPER COUNTY MISSISSIPPI. IT CROSSED THE MISSISSIPPI ALABAMA STATE
LINE 1.5 MILES NORTH OF MISSISSIPPI 16 AND SUMTER COUNTY ROAD 30.
SEVERAL HOMES AND BUSINESSES WEST OF GEIGER SUSTAINED EXTENSIVE
DAMAGE.  THE TORNADO CONTINUED EAST WHERE THOUSANDS OF TREES WERE
EITHER SNAPPED OR UPROOTED.  THE TORNADO EVENTUALLY LIFTED NEAR THE
TOMBIGBEE RIVER AT THE SUMTER AND GREEN COUNTY LINE. THE TORNADO
DAMAGE PATH WAS 10.5 MILES LONG AND WAS 1 MILE WIDE AT ITS WIDEST
POINT.

…CUBA TORNADO (SUMTER COUNTY)…

PRELIMINARY DATA…
EVENT DATE: APRIL 15, 2011
EVENT TYPE: EF-2 TORNADO
ESTIMATED PEAK WINDS (MPH): 115
INJURIES/FATALITIES: NONE
EVENT START LOCATION AND TIME: 32.4359/-88.3288 AT 358 PM
EVENT END LOCATION AND TIME: 32.4839/-88.1868 AT 410 PM
DAMAGE PATH LENGTH (IN MILES): 8.9 MILES
DAMAGE WIDTH (IN YARDS): 200

SPECIAL THANKS TO CHIEF REED VAUGHAN AND MEMBERS OF THE CUBA FIRE
DEPARTMENT WHO SURVEYED THE DAMAGE EAST OF CUBA. IT HAS BEEN
DETERMINED THAT THE DAMAGE WAS CONSISTENT WITH A TORNADO. WINDS WERE
ESTIMATED AROUND 115 MPH. THE TORNADO TOUCHED DOWN NEAR US HIGHWAY
80 AT MILE MARKER 3 WHERE SEVERAL LARGE TREES WERE SNAPPED. THE
TORNADO CONTINUED NORTHEAST CROSSING ALABAMA HIGHWAY 17 WHERE
SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE WAS SUSTAINED TO TWO RESIDENCES AND TWO
OUTBUILDINGS WERE COMPLETELY DESTROYED.  FURTHER NORTHEAST…THE
TORNADO BEGAN TO LIFT NEAR COUNTY ROAD 13 ABOUT 7 MILES SOUTH OF
LIVINGSTON. THE DAMAGE PATH WAS 8.9 MILES LONG AND 200 YARDS WIDE AT
ITS WIDEST POINT.

Tornado – North Sumter

This intense storm is quite likely putting a tornado on the ground in the Geiger area.  This storm has a history of tornado damage and visual sightings in the Kemper County area.

Rotation right over the Geiger area.

Latest Update

Latest graphic from NWS Jackson regarding the potential for severe weather. 

Choctaw County Storm

There have been confirmed reports of damage in the Melvin community of Choctaw county.  We will have more of these storms to come as the afternoon goes on. 

Update…

The NWS Jackson has produced this graphic that confirms the idea that most have had this morning.  NWS Birmingham makes the following statement…

(9:39:55 AM) nwsbot: [bmxchat] nws-jim.stefkovich: latest information from mesoanalysis and SPC…it appears discrete cells between TCL-JAN-Gulfport developing ahead of the line in NW AL/MS will be the initiation point of supercell development in the warm sector. Main line should continue to slow south and eastward progress, which in itself may become an issue with flash flooding. These supercells will likely affect areas well west of I-65 and weaken as they encounter lower dewpoints as the storms move ne. The moist sfc air will then spread into areas east of i-65 near or after 21z with the same scenario of supercell development ahead of the line. The line itself will then sweep through the state overnight as the upper level support and sfc cold front move eastward.
(9:40:47 AM) nwsbot: [bmxchat] nws-jim.stefkovich: All this to say, areas west of i-65 under gun from here on out through the remainder of the afternoon, and areas east of i-65 after 2-3 pm

The discrete cells are forming and are moving off to the Northeast.  Stay tuned to a good source of weather information since when the system gets close the speed at which we can update the site will likely be hampered by other duties.

Major Severe Weather Event…

TORNADO WATCH UNTIL 1500

 

The South Sumter area will is under a significant risk of severe weather today.  The Storms Prediction Center has outlooked the majority of the West Alabama and East Mississippi area for a moderate risk of severe weather.  It remains to be seen if this will be elevated to a high risk, but at the moment the elements required for a significant severe weather outbreak appear to be coming together.   The main threat with today’s system depends largely upon the storm and the environment that it is found in.  If the storms are discrete and out of head of the line the threat of a significant tornado is much higher.  The threat of winds and hail increase with the more linear storms.  One thing is certain, the numbers are high and we should most certainly be prepared now for what might occur later this morning and afternoon.   One item to note is that the most recent mesoanalysis from the SPC shows the great tornado risk a little further south of the I 20 corridor at the moment, but this is expected to advect into the area as the day goes on. 

 

The risk of tornados is rather high.  The BMX NWS indicates that same thing below.