SPC Stats

Path length: 14 miles

Width:  703 yards

Fatalities:  6

Injuries:  130

Rating:  F3

County:  Cullman, Marshall

Three tornadoes were confirmed on February 16, 1995, all in Alabama.  The strongest was a devastating F3 that tracked 14 miles through parts of Cullman and Marshall Counties.

This tornado began about 3 miles west of Joppa just before 5am CT.  It travelled ENE through the town, across Alabama Highway 69 and into Marshall County just SW of Arab.  The tornado moved across the south side of Arab.  It moved into the rugged terrain east of this area and dissipated at the Browns Creek Section of Guntersville Lake just north of the Diamond Community.

77 dwellings and 6 businesses were destroyed in Cullman County.  The Joppa Elementary School was destroyed.  80 dwellings and 6 businesses were destroyed in Marshall County.

There were 130 injuries reported in this event and 6 fatalities.  One death occurred in a home and the rest in mobile homes.  Four of the deaths were in Arab and one in Joppa.  A pregnant woman was severely injured in her mobile home and was sent into labor early.  The baby died at birth. 

In the rubble of a trailer park, a baby was found unharmed.

Tornado Path

Click Map To Enlarge

SPC coordinates:  Start: 34.25 / -86.58   End:  34.27/ -86.32 

When you plot the lat/lon from the SPC and compare with the official summary, it would seem the coordinates are off.  I have plotted the official SPC coordinates and also the highlighted some of the communities mentioned in the summary.   It would seem the official plot is too far south.   Joppa was hit as well as the south side of Arab.  The tornado dissipated near Guntersville Lake just north of the Diamond community.  This is all north of the official SPC path.      

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

Videos

Newspaper Clippings

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the February 1995 Storm Data Narrative and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes Update and found the following differences:

Max Width:

  • The SPC has the max width as 703 yards.
  • NCDC has the width at 10 yards.
  • Grazulis lists the width at 700 yards.

Counties:

  • The NCDC does not have an entry for Marshall County.  It has the official lat/lon all in Cullman County.
  • All other sources list Cullman and Marshall in the damage path and the official lat/lon goes through both counties.

    Sources:

    The Storm Prediction Center

    NCDC Storm Events Database

    February 1995 Storm Data Publication

    Mike Wilhelm’s Blog of the Event

    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 1372.

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