I’ve lived in Alabama my whole live…huddled in a closet or other small room with my family numerous times. We’ve always been extremely fortunate not to be in the direct path of a tornado. But I’ve never seen anything like this—never seen this much damage in such a long line. So much destruction that it is incomprehensible (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7T7GYl0xvg). Huddling in a small room does nothing when the entire home is swept away. Whole neighborhoods and small communities in Alabama simply are no more.
I expect damage on this scale with a large hurricane…but one tornado? It doesn’t seem possible, but it happened. The monster tornado that destroyed sections of Tuscaloosa, Alabama (home of the University of Alabama), remained on the ground for perhaps 180 to 225 miles. It began in western Mississippi and probably lifted in either northeast Georgia or southwest North Carolina. If this is the case, it will be the longest track tornado in history. It may also end up being the most powerful in history, with wind speeds as high as 200 miles per hour. It has devastated town after town in central Alabama.
Along with this unprecedented destruction in the state, the northern third—which experienced tornadoes and intense thunderstorms of its own—is dealing with an extreme power outage. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which serves parts of seven states and nine million homes and businesses, has experienced unparalleled damage. Most of its transmission system in Alabama and Mississippi was taken out by the storm, and because of this, many of its generating centers were forced to shut down, since the power they were generating could not be transmitted. This included the Brown’s Ferry Nuclear Power Plant, which was shut down without incident.
This power outage has left more than 600,000 homes and businesses in north Alabama (including the city of Huntsville) and northeast Mississippi without power, and they will be without power for days ( http://www.tva.com/news/releases/aprjun11/storm.htm).
Warnings were given. People took shelter, but when the storms are historic in strength and duration, not much can be done to avoid nature’s power.