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A Breakdown of the Fultondale Tornado

At 10:43 PM Monday, an EF-3 tornado caused extreme damage to the city of Fultondale.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The town of Fultondale is picking up the pieces of destruction as well as mourning the life of one as the EF-3 tornado ripped through the town late last night. At 10:43 PM the National Weather Service out of Birmingham issued a tornado warning for Jefferson County that would last until 11:00 PM. The cities of Fultondale, Clay and Center Point were all in the tornado's wake but Fultondale would take the brunt of destruction. 

Yesterday temperatures rose into the 70s while dewpoints rose into the high 50s/low 60s which is a prime atmosphere for severe weather in January. Keep in mind, it's not uncommon for Alabama to see tornadoes in the winter, especially January.

Credit: WZDX Weather

As the velocity couplet, which is indication of rotation, began to get tighter and tighter, the tornado warning would soon come with the radar indicated tag. The red color you see here is wind moving away from the radar site while the green color you see is wind moving towards the radar site. The brighter these colors become indicates the intensity of the wind's speed. This indicates a strong, rotating column of air.

Credit: WZDX Weather

Aligning our velocity data with a product called correlation coefficient, which is a good indicator for debris being lofted into the atmosphere, we had a very strong indication that this was a tornado on the ground causing extensive damage to the city of Fultondale. 

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The National Weather Service in Birmingham surveyed the damage throughout Fultondale and has come to the conclusion that this is a EF-3 tornado with maximum sustained winds of 150 MPH. The survey team still is not done analyzing the data and very well could increase the intensity of the tornado but they don't anticipate a change in the rating.

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