Tornadoes in Alabama on 1989/11/15


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- Polygons represent shapes of defined geographic areas
- The maps currently support state and county/parish polygons
- Polygons are not shown on all pages. They only appear in county and state pages, or in custom searches where a county or state has been specified

Disclaimer |?|

The Tornado History Project generates approximate paths through separate historical archives provided by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Paths generated from the NCDC data are typically more detailed, but neither archive gives exact path information. There are several reasons that paths may be inaccurate:

  • Tornado touchdown and liftoff coordinates were recorded with only 2 digits of decimal precision (i.e. [33.72, -86.15] vs [33.71689, -86.15463]). As a consequence, the observed points on the map may be slightly off from actual. Note that beginning in 2009, up to 4 digits of decimal precision are given.
  • Coordinates have not historically been calculated via GPS (Global Positioning System). Thus, tornado touchdown and liftoff coordinates should be considered as estimates only.
  • Tornadoes may not have been in contact with the ground for the entire path as depicted on the map. Storm damage in any location depicted under the "path" should not be inferred.
  • Although paths are drawn as straight lines between any two sets of coordinates, the tornado may have "zigzagged" in some way.
  • Although paths are drawn as uniform thin lines on the map, it is likely that the tornado changed size over its lifetime. Damage in any location depicted under (or not under) the "path" should not be inferred.

Even with the above in mind, the data is the best available. If you see a path that is depicted incorrectly, please post a comment in the tornado forum indicating why you belive the path to be incorrect.

Paths generated from NCDC data are typically more detailed due to the way coordinates are listed in each archive:

  • SPC database - A maximum of 2 coordinates (touchdown and liftoff) is given for each tornado, or each state segment of a tornado if it is a multi-state tornado. Thus the vast majority of paths are depicted as simple straight lines.
  • NCDC database - Some tornadoes have mutliple sets of coordinates within any state, generally corresponding to entry and exit points by county. Thus, since more coordinates have been used to draw the path, the depicted path should be more accurate. Having said that, most tornadoes do not have additional path data in the NCDC archive. When they do, paths are drawn from the NCDC data.

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Summary   Definitions |?|

The following statistics and definitions are derived from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) historical tornado archive. The Tornado History Project can not guarantee the accuracy of the underlying data within the SPC historical tornado archive. However, the data as presented here is guaranteed to match the SPC data, except where noted.

Some definitions will not be given since they are obvious (i.e. "Date", "Time", etc...)
Special Note: This site uses a unique index number to identify each tornado. This index number is not a part of the official historical tornado archive.

E (Error) (tornado search table only) - A yellow box indicates that the tornado record contains a suspected error. A red box indicates that the tornado record contains an error and has been modified from the official source. Hover over the box for the error text.
Map/Forum (tornado search table only) - Clickable icons for further content related to a tornado.
State - The state or states affected by a tornado.
Fujita - The Fujita scale is an attempt to classify damage from a tornado. F0 being the least damaging, F5 the most. For 2007 and beyond, the Enhanced Fujita (EF) is given.
Fat. - The number of fatalities attributed to the tornado.
Inj. - The number of injuries attributed to the tornado.
Width - Width in yards. It is unclear if this indicates a maximum width or mean width.
Length - Length of tornado path in miles. Note the entire track length is not necessarily all on the ground (some tornadoes "hop and skip".)
Damage - Prior to 1996, this is a range by dollar amount. For 1996 and later, actual damage estimates are in millions.
Crop Loss - Added in 2007. Given in millions of dollars.
Lat/Lon - Contains two sets of coordinates:

  • Touchdown Latitude/Longitude - For single state tornadoes, and the overall record for multi-state tornadoes, the approximate touchdown location in decimal degrees. For the state specific records of multi-state tornadoes, entry point into the state in decimal degrees.
  • Liftoff Latitude/Longitude - For single state tornadoes, and the overall record for multi-state tornadoes, the approximate liftoff location in decimal degrees. For the state specific records of multi-state tornadoes, the exit or lift-off point from the state in decimal degrees.

St. #. - The state tornado number assigned to the tornado for that specific state for that specific year. Generally, state tornado numbers were assigned in the order the tornado occurred, but that is not always the case.
SPC # - The tornado number as assigned by the SPC. Tornado numbers are not unique and reset each year. Generally, tornado numbers were assigned in the order the tornado occurred, but that is not always the case.

Date(s) (yyyy-mm-dd)TornadoesFatalitiesHighest FatalitiesInjuriesHighest InjuriesLongest PathWidest Path
1989-11-15 - 1989-11-15421 people21 people466 people463 people18.5 miles880 yards
User Comments   (1)      
General Comment
2016-01-19 13:25:40
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Rank: F0

I was there for the Huntsville tornado.  I live in southern TN.  I headed to Huntsville that day to shop the antique and record stores and spend my birthday money I had received.  I started down the south parkway and worked my way back.  It was about rush hour and I was shopping in a record store on the north parkway.  I was walking out to my car and looked south and notice a huge black cloud.  You really couldn't see where it started and where it ended.  It didn't register with me that it might be a tornado.  It was very warm for a November and it just didn't click.  There were no sirens going off but a wind had started to pick up.  I didn't ever listen to the radio when I drove.  I listened to tapes in the tape deck so I had no clue about weather for the day.  I started to put the key in my car door and the man that owned the record shop came flying out of the store.  He never said a word.  He grabbed me by the arm and I turned to look at him.  He had a look of panic on his face.  He didn't have to say a word!  I knew by the look on his face what was going on!  He snatched me back into the building, locked the door and then shoved me under the counter and laid on top of me.  I had never been so scared in all my life.  Thankfully it didn't hit where we were at.  I was very greatful for the man and thanked him.  But boy you can guarantee that I check the weather anytime I'm headed to Huntsville!  LOL.  If it even says just rain I don't go.  But this tornado disproved a theory.  We had all heard that torndoes can't go over a mountain.  They hit the side of the mountain and then fizzle out.  WRONG!!  This one went up and over the mountain damaging a school on the other side.
We didn't know a lot about tornadoes then.  Radar was still primitive.  More study was being put into them and we learned things.  What they always taught you was to open the windows in the house so the tornado wouldn't make your house explode.  Well we all know now that's bull.  Don't waste the time.  Take shelter.  So this tornado disproved another myth.  Now that we are in a more modern age and we have better radar.  It isn't taboo to say the word "tornado" anymore.  It used to be you didn't say that word for fear of creating panic.  You just knew thunderstorms were heading in.  We were left to watch the skies and the old fashioned ways.  Now it can depict the street you live on!  But we learned that tornadoes can happen on any day of the year - in any month - at any place - at any time.

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