EF4 Tornado and How We Survived That

MayDay 2011

MayDay 2011

M'aidez 2011

M’aidez 2011

This page is being created because the 2015 spring tornado season, and the approaching 4th anniversary, are on my mind. Please review your state’s severe weather safety information. We were in a direct hit from an EF4 tornado on 4.27.11, as described in the following links. All photos and text in these links are by Leah Alford:

The storm itself and the aftermath:


The 3rd anniversary:


During spring 2014 (mostly enjoyable stuff), another blinkin’ tornadic storm tries to get us in another location:



20 Responses to EF4 Tornado and How We Survived That

  1. What an experience. One of the reasons we moved from the Alberta Prairies to the West Coast was the tornados. Though they are not as common as the number that you guys have, we did get them. Driving home from Calgary when my son was 4, myself, my son and 6 other drivers huddled in a culvert under an overpass as a tornado went over us. When we came out, one of the cars was gone. It was the most terrifying experience of my life. 5 years later when a tornado ripped through the subdivision we lived in and destroyed the house across the park, we moved. I can put up with the forest fires and floods around our village almost every year, but the thought of tornadoes sends shivers up and down my spine. I can still smell the culvert and hear the screaming wind. I pray for furrends every tornado season. Sending you Love, virtual hugs and strength.

    • Leah says:

      That sounds like a terrifying experience you went through too. I knew that there are tornadoes in Canada, part of whatever happens to the central parts of the continent and areas eastward; due to warm air from the Gulf meeting the cooler prairie winds, according to something I read at one time. I sort of wanted to move after we were in the EF4, but, we were older and all of our friends of a lifetime were here.
      Thank you for all your kind wishes, we do appreciate them! For now it seems we’re in the hot part of the summer when it’s mostly over for awhile, although it’s sometimes a case of you never know. Then roughly speaking we have another tornado season in November and December because our air is warming up and cooling down so often. The only part of the continent that has that second yearly season, lucky us!
      Wishing you all good things and safety from the floods and fires,
      Cheers, Meows, and Purrs

  2. da-AL says:

    I can’t even imagine… that’s some tough stuff you’re made of, Leah 🙂

  3. This is absolutely horrible.
    We almost never have tornadoes here, and on the very rare occasion we do, they’re extremely mild. What you need is an underground shelter to hide during the warning, no windows, thick brick walls. The underground tunnel of the subway are the ultimate protection against such disasters.

    Many people ignore the tornadoes warning because chances are against being hit by one, and you just get used to it. The tornado touches a very small place, while the warning is for a very large place, so statistically chances are slim. But that doesn’t mean people should ignore these warnings. That’s just how it goes when you get used to things. Being complacent is just the way people get hurt.

    • Catwoods says:

      I’ve lived in tornado country for 50 years and have gone through so many warnings without being hit that we did become complacent. That changed once we were in one . . . Underground shelters are indeed best but there aren’t that many around; there are specially built above ground shelters where people can go, but they aren’t close enough and they don’t all take pets. Basements may be safe but not necessarily if the floor above the basement is destroyed and things fall on it, that happened somewhere here I believe during that same storm we were in. Subways would be good protection but there aren’t any nearby. The smallest and most interior room with no windows and as many walls between you and the outside is the safest, usually a bathroom or a closet. The bathroom was where we survived and the hubs has now re-enforced the walls around it even more. The walls of the oldest part of the house stood, likely because it was a double wall, one of cinderblock and one of brick. But the windows broke and the furniture and outside debris was blown through the house with the wind. Brick alone can be blown apart at the mortared seams. The roof came off and the addition to the back of the house was wrecked. That’s it in the picture. It was pretty intense!

  4. Tornado’s scare me! Never been in one but just seeing pictures frightens me. It’s good that you remind people that they need to know safety information.

    • Catwoods says:

      They are dangerous! If you are ever under a tornado warning remember that the smallest room with with no windows like a bathroom or closet, in the innermost part of the house, is the safest. Although many areas don’t have them often, they have occurred in every contiguous US state. And we hear more often now about chances for severe weather in areas of the US where they were really rare in previous years.

  5. Pingback: Walk Through The Web Wednesday 10/5/16 – Feline Opines-The world from a feline point of view

  6. Ellen Hawley says:

    When I lived in Minneapolis, I was at first terrified by tornado warnings, then gradually (like most people in the city) learned to ignore them. I was lucky, but I have to say in hindsight that it was really, really stupid.

    • Catwoods says:

      We were pretty much the same way, Ellen. We took a few precautions at first, but after years of alerts with no hits to us, although they did hit around us, we didn’t take the warnings very seriously. Fortunately the weather persons warned us early that 4.27.11 would be a bad day, and the day just felt eerie, so we were prepared. I’m glad you were never hit by one while in Minneapolis!

  7. I have never seen a tornado “in person,” but I have seen videos. I would be so scared if I saw something like that coming my way! So much power to destroy!

    • Catwoods says:

      I’ve never actually seen a tornado either, although we’ve been through a zillion alerts. As soon as we learned there was one coming our way, we took cover, with little time to spare. They can change direction so anyone who sees one, even if it seems to be going another way, should IMO take cover. Many videos have been made safely – although a year or so back some professional storm chasers died in a storm – and I may seem extra jumpy on this topic, but after being in one, I’m forever edgy about severe weather. Thank you so much for visiting!

  8. We were in Lexington Kentucky that day and we had three tornado warnings and spent several hours in a tornado shelter. It was a harrowing day and we were lucky. We didn’t get hit. I will never forget that day. We installed a tornado shelter in our home in Manitoba. We are at the north end of tornado alley and we have only had an F5 here once in recorded history but all it takes is one.

    • Catwoods says:

      Thank you for posting about your experiences on that day, tumbleweedstumbling! It changed us both forever and doesn’t seem to wear off, no matter how much time passes. I think you are wise to have built the tornado shelter! I notice all reports of tornado weather and tornadoes everywhere now, so I had become aware that they happen in Canada, too.

      • I wrote about our tornado shelter in my blog starting here https://tumbleweedstumbling.wordpress.com/2015/08/09/adding-a-tornado-shelter/
        but i should issue a discomfort warning. We spend the winters in Florida and we travel up and down in spring and fall tornado season. I have become a really big fan of understanding weather and being prepared. I joined a local tornado chasers group because they constantly share updates and often give more information than the weather stations. I have also been through your area of Alabama and Alabama is just so lovely in spring!

        • Catwoods says:

          Very interesting series of posts about building the shelter. I also looked at the photos of that supercell t-storm and I must say, unsettling, to say the least! Good on you for joining the storm chasers. If we were younger and healthier, we might have done something like that, or maybe made career changes into design of safe structures for tornado areas. Also might have considered moving. Although tornadoes have occurred in every contiguous US state, the deep South region has a very high risk. Although I have to agree, it’s very beautiful here in spring!

  9. Laura says:

    Hi, Catwood! I am a fellow lover of cats and writing and nature. I also have a debilitating desease (Parkinson’s). I love your blog…

    • Catwoods says:

      Hi Laura, it’s good to meet you! Looks like we have lots of common ground! Sorry to hear about your Parkinson’s. Thank you so much for stopping by and your kind words about my blog. I am enjoying visiting yours, and look forward to looking around there more when time opens up.

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