Hellstorms unleash tornado blitz across South, decimating Alabama

Editor-in-Chief
04.28.11

Late yesterday what can only be described as a hellstorm swept through the South, a hellstorm that spun off killer tornadoes which caused havoc worthy of a horror movie, with Alabama appearing to be the hardest hit state. A mammoth, pants-crapping tornado, pictured above, ripped through Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, decimating everything in its mile-wide path. According to reports from locals on Twitter, some of the area’s culinary gems were wiped off the face of the earth in a matter of minutes, and a slew of lives were snatched along the way.

A radio station in the Tuscaloosa area posted the following grim status update to Facebook last night when the official death toll was only in the dozens…

This morning the death toll has risen sharply. Reports the New York Times:

Across Alabama, at least 128 people were killed — 13 in Birmingham alone — and more than 300 injured by storms on Wednesday, said Yasamie August, information manager of the Alabama Emergency Management Agency.

”I would be pretty sure about saying we’ve never had 128 people die in one day,” Ms. August said. ”It’s going to be difficult to get an accurate count of damage or injuries at this point. Many people can’t get to a hospital.”

There were at least 32 deaths in Mississippi, and The Associated Press reported 11 deaths in Georgia and one each in Tennessee and Virginia.

The map below illustrates the scope of all of the twisters and tornadoes that touched down in the region yesterday…

According to various reports, debris from the Birmingham/Tuscaloosa area was found over 100 miles away. This storm was THAT powerful. One Twitter user found a deposit slip in his front yard from a bank located 115 miles away from his home…

And this video captured by a University of Alabama employee — from the third floor of Coleman Coliseum on the school’s campus — of the tornado bearing down on Tuscaloosa is just ridiculous. This thing was a monster, and I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have felt like watching this thing bearing down on the city.

4-27-11 Tornado Tuscaloosa, Al from Crimson Tide Productions on Vimeo.

If you’d like to make a donation to the Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts in the area, you can do so here, or you can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10.

(Tornado map via Weather.com)

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Brett has been a New York Times contributing writer, a national affairs reporter for Yahoo! News, and a writer/editor at Gawker Media. Brett has also written for Esquire, Yahoo! Sports, Deadspin, Complex, Gourmet, Hazlitt, Animal, Gambit, and Dealbreaker.

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