Last night a series of tornados, including a probable F5, wreaked havoc across north and central Alabama, my home. Fortunately my town was spared everything but some downed trees, but others were not so lucky. Densely inhabited areas of Cullman, Tuscaloosa, and Birmingham were devastated, and at least 190 Alabamians are dead, with others missing and many more left homeless or injured. I have never seen anything like this as long as I've lived here. Restaurants in Tuscaloosa that I've visited recently are completely gone, along with student apartments and businesses. Thankfully the University of Alabama campus was spared, saving many lives (Bryant-Denny Stadium was missed by 250 yards). After Tuscaloosa, the storm passed through western Birmingham, devastating lower-income areas like Pleasant Grove, Concord, and Pratt City. Many homes in these areas are older and less well-constructed than in Tuscaloosa, and that can be seen in how complete the devastation was. Separate tornados struck Cullman and Huntsville, causing more destruction but thankfully not to the same extent. President Obama will be visiting Friday to assess the damage.
Ten must-see videos, compiled by al.com: http://blog.al.com/montgomery/2011/04/must_see_top_ten_alabama_torna.html
The second one is what I was watching live. The third is arguably one of the most stunning amateur tornado videos of all time. They were within a few hundred yards of it as it crossed McFarland Boulevard at University Mall.
Al.com also compiled a photo essay here: http://photos.al.com/alcom_photo_essay/2011/04/alabama_tornadoes_from_april_2.html
The Milo's in the fourth picture is a place I've been before... It's on the road to the University of Alabama and that area is entirely devastated now.
Al.com has additional coverage, photos, and video as well.
Search and rescue efforts are ongoing, so please continue to keep our state in your thoughts and prayers. If you want to contribute by donating $10 to the Red Cross relief effort, text REDCROSS to 90999.