Stats

Path length: 12.1 miles

Width:  215 yards

Fatalities:  1

Injuries:  5

Rating:  EF3

Counties:  Madison (AL), Lincoln (TN)

Tornado Path

DAT coordinates:

Start: 34.97 / -86.57   End: 35.00 / -86.36

Summary

On March 31 and April 1, 2023, a large and widespread tornado outbreak took place over the Midwestern and Southern regions of the United States, stretching over to the Atlantic Coast. For two days, 145 twisters contributed to one of the most sizable events on record, taking 27 lives and affecting many more. Twelve of these were rated EF3 or greater across seven states. This summary focuses on a deadly EF3 that took place in northern Alabama and southern Tennessee.

At 3:09 am CST, the tornado began 3 miles north of Hazel Green, AL, just west of U.S. Highway 231/431 and south of Elkwood Section Road. Several trees were uprooted, some of which fell on homes. One residence along Old Highway 431 had its deck lifted, the roof damaged, and the chimney and garage doors collapsed.

The twister rapidly strengthened as it reached just north of the intersection of 231/431, Elkwood Section Road, and Lincoln Road. Here, the business of Bucks Auto & Truck suffered a wall collapse and broken windows. As the tornado crossed the highway, some vehicles were thrown onto the side of the road.

Across the street, numerous structures, including the popular H&L Custom Cycles repair shop, suffered significant damage.

"Total devastation. The closer I got, the worse it was."

Henry Wales built H&L Custom Cycles over 20 years ago. On April 1, he was picking up the pieces of his destroyed business. “Total devastation. The closer I got, the worse it was.” Per an April 2, 2023 article for WHNT, Wales said that he and several employees searched the property, trying to salvage what they could.

Josh Lyons, the lead mechanic at H&L Custom Cycle, lived in an apartment attached to the shop. WHNT interviewed him for an April 3, 2023 piece. “Got a shower, friend of mine brought me something to eat, and I laid down to take a nap for a couple hours. [I] heard the noise, got up, got them up, it was too late, building started coming up around us and when I came to, we were in a field over there.” Lyons and Christon Cagle were thrown 100 yards from the apartment. Per WHNT, Josh suffered a concussion and was severely bruised. Christon sustained more critical injuries. Her aunt was interviewed for WHNT on April 5, 2023, and she gave an update on her condition. Christon had to have at least 18 staples placed in her neck, bolts and screws affixed in her jaw, and was bleeding on the brain.

H&L Custom Cycle with its roof removed and front wall collapsed (left). Damage to North Hazel Green Mini Storage (right). Images from the DAT.

The funnel slightly weakened as it continued east-northeast, paralleling Lincoln Road, where minor tree damage occurred. Next, the twister traversed the meandering Mulberry Road three times for approximately 1.5 miles. Numerous trees were uprooted and snapped, multiple homes had roofs removed, and outbuildings were obliterated. As the tornado crossed Greenville Pike, it once again began to strengthen significantly. A garage completely collapsed. Fence posts anchored by cement were removed from the ground. One residence had most of its walls blown down.

Ovie Lasater. Image from her obituary.

The deadly vortex next reached Borderline Road at the Everett Jones Road intersection, along the Alabama-Tennessee border. One mobile home was demolished, power poles were snapped, and a few barns were flattened. Among the carnage, the residence of 90-year-old Ovie Lasater was leveled. She did not survive.

Per her obituary on the Hazel Green Funeral Home website, “Mrs. Lasater will be remembered for her sweet spirit, her kind hospitality and desire to cook for everyone who visited her home, and her love for all her family – babysitting and helping to raise many of the children in her extended family.”

What remained of Ovie Lasater’s home. Image from the DAT.

The tornado began to inch into Tennessee as it continued along Borderline Road. It reached peak intensity upon hitting just north of the intersection with Myers Road. A dwelling in the midst of construction was blown to the ground, and a new metal building complex was torn apart.

Continuing east-northeast just above Borderline Road, the intensity gradually began to wane as sporadic tree damage occurred just south of Vanntown, TN. Numerous shingles from one home were removed along Vanntown School Road. Minor vegetation loss continued as the funnel crossed Seals Road.

The twister had a final spurt of destructive nature between Mason Road and Echols Road, where several farm buildings were ripped apart. The weakening tornado continued for two additional miles before lifting at 3:25 am CST just past John Hunter Highway/Tennessee State Highway 122, 1 mile SSW of Elora.

In Loving Memory

Ovie Wilson Lasater, 90

Images from the DAT

Damage to Bucks Auto & Truck.
Tree damage along U.S. Highway 231/431.
Remains of an outbuilding along Mulberry Road.
Significant damage to a home on Mulberry Road.
Collapsed garage on Greenville Pike.
Cement-reinforced fence post removed from the ground near Greenville Pike.
Destroyed home on Greenville Pike.
Remains of a barn on Borderline Road.
Obliterated mobile home on Borderline Road.
Collapsed large metal building near the Borderline/Myers Road intersection.
Remains of a home that was under construction near the Borderline/Myers Road intersection.
Downed tree along Echols Road.
Demolished outbuilding near Echols Road.

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