SPC Stats

Path length: 9.51 miles

Width:  1000 yards

Fatalities:  0

Injuries:  0

Rating:  EF2

County:  Winston, Cullman

A total of 22 tornadoes were confirmed on November 29, 2016.  Over half were in the state of Alabama.  This summary looks at a rather large twister with a max width of 1000 yards.  It was rated EF2 and moved just under 10 miles from near Arley to Helicon in Winston County and ending 2.41 miles over the Cullman County line.  

The NWS survey determined the estimated maximum winds were near 130 mph (EF2).  EF2 damage was found along the shores of Smith Lake near Hosanna Highway.  4 homes were “rendered uninhabitable/destroyed.”  The width of 1000 yards occurred as the twister crossed Smith Lake.  Near Helicon, a fire department training building was destroyed.  

Most of the damage in Cullman County was to trees .  There was though significant damage to a barn near County Road 986.

Storm Data Entry


National Weather Service meteorologists surveyed damage in eastern Winston County near Arley and determined that the damage was consistent with an EF-2 tornado, with maximum winds estimated near 130 mph.

This tornado touched down in a wooded area just northeast of Southside Drive and southwest of Winston County Road 3906.  As it crossed Winston County Road 3906 and neared County Road 12, the circulation became substantially stronger and snapped numerous pine trees and caused minor structure damage to two homes along County Road 12.  It continued to snap trees and cause minor structural damage as it crossed County Road 77/ Helicon Rd and Hosanna Highway.  As it neared Hosanna Highway along the shores of Smith Lake, it intensified to EF-2 strength with wind speeds of 130 to 135 mph, rendering 4 homes as uninhabitable/destroyed.  As the tornado crossed Smith Lake, it decreased intensity but widened to a maximum path width of 1000 yards.  The tornado re-intensified and narrowed as it continued to move northeastward along County Road 77/Helicon Road, snapping and uprooting trees and damaging another 10 homes and several sheds and outbuildings, and snapping more than a quarter mile stretch of concrete power poles.  The tornado continued to brush the south side of Helicon, destroying a Fire Department training building and passing over a community storm shelter.  From there it continued northeastward across Winston County Road 40 and weakened as it crossed into Cullman County approximately 2 miles ENE of Helicon.


This tornado was originally the Arley/Helicon EF-2 tornado that originated in Winston County.  It continued across County Road 986, causing significant damage to a barn and snapping several hardwood and softwood trees.  The tornado continued northeast, continued to snap trees and destroyed another shed as it crossed CR 946 and 939.  It appeared to lift northeast of CR 939.

Tornado Path

SPC coordinates:  Start: 34.0699 / -87.2016   End:  34.1604 / -87.0781

Used County Segment coordinates as well provided by NCDC Database

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Radar and Damage Photos via NWS Birmingham

Velocity (left) and Reflectivity (right) just after it crossed a portion of Smith Lake. Images are from KGWX at 857 pm.


Residents of Winston County, Alabama share first hand accounts of the tornado that passed through on November 29, 2016.  From ACES – Fresh from the Field.


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