SPC Stats

Path length: 28 miles

Width:  880 yards

Fatalities:  2

Injuries:  6

Rating:  F4

County:  Cullman

This summary looks at the strongest tornado that occurred on March 11, 1963.  It moved across portions of Cullman County, AL.  The tornado was first reported in the Valley Grove Community.  It moved to the northeast through Phelan, Berlin and Fairview.  Approximately 20 homes and 20 farm buildings were demolished.  120 homes and several other buildings were damaged.  There were 2 fatalities and 6 injuries.   Per Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes, the deaths occurred in homes:  one in Good Hope and one in Berlin.  

Tornado Path

Click map to enlarge.

SPC coordinates:  Start: 33.90 / -86.90   End:  34.18 / -86.55      

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

I plotted the official latitude and longitude points given by the SPC and compared that with communities mentioned in the Storm Data Summary and by Grazulis:  Phelan, Berlin, Fairview.  Valley Grove is mentioned too but couldn’t pinpoint that location.   Grazulis also mentions Good Hope.  Grazulis commented on Twitter that “Valley Grove” is a church near Good Hope.

Just looking at those locations alone, the official track looks to be too south.  In fact, the beginning and end points are in Blount County.

Grazulis also mentions Holly Pond.  That is closer to the SPC path but seems out of sync with the other communities that were mentioned.  Grazulis commented on Twitter that the new version of Significant Tornadoes will remove the reference to Holly Pond.  He said that damage could have been from another tornado or NW of Holly Pond, not NE of this area.  

Newspaper Clippings

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the March 1963 Storm Data Publication and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:

Width:

  • SPC and NCDC have the width at 880 yards (This is how we choose the event).
  • Storm Data has a range of widths from 1/4 to 3/4 of a miles (440 yards to 1320 yards).
  • Grazulis lists a max width of 500 yards.

Path Length:

  • SPC and NCDC have the path length at 28 miles.
  • Storm Data and Grazulis list the path length at 25 miles.

    Sources:

    The Storm Prediction Center

    NCDC Storm Events Database

    March 1963 Storm Data Publication

    newspapers.com

    Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 1044.

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