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15 years since deadly Enterprise tornado

One of multiple tornadoes during a 3-day outbreak
Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 12:12 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 1, 2022 at 4:29 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since a devastating EF-4 tornado moved through Enterprise. The tornado killed nine people along its path of about 10 miles.

Of those nine, eight were students at Enterprise High School. They died when a concrete wall collapsed as they huddled in the hallway in a crouched position. The ninth fatality occurred in the city’s downtown area.

Facts about the Enterprise tornado and the outbreak as a whole.
Facts about the Enterprise tornado and the outbreak as a whole.(WSFA 12 News)

The tornado began near the Enterprise Municipal Airport before slamming into Enterprise High School and the northern part of the city. It touched down at 1:05pm, which is 18 minutes after the National Weather Service issued the tornado warning.

In addition to the nine people who lost their lives, there were more than 50 others who suffered injuries of varying degrees. This was not only the deadliest tornado of the day, but the deadliest of the three-day tornado outbreak that ravaged multiple states.

Tornadoes to touch down in the NWS Tallahassee area.
Tornadoes to touch down in the NWS Tallahassee area.(WSFA 12 News/NWS)

The tornado had a maximum wind speed of 170mph, reached a width of 200 yards, caused more than $300 million in damage, and either damaged or destroyed hundreds and hundreds of homes and other buildings.

Believe it or not, this wasn’t the only EF-4 tornado to strike Alabama during this outbreak. On March 1, 2007 a Wilcox County man lost his life after an EF-4 tornado impacted parts of Wilcox and Dallas counties. That tornado was the strongest of the three-day outbreak with a peak wind speed of 185mph.

Tornadoes that touched down in the NWS Birmingham area.
Tornadoes that touched down in the NWS Birmingham area.(WSFA 12 News/NWS)

Alabama accounted for 11 of the 56 tornadoes to touch down between February 28th and March 2nd. Other counties to be impacted include Butler, Cullman, Dale, Fayette, Henry, Jefferson, Lee, Lowndes, Montgomery, Russell, Shelby, Tuscaloosa, and Winston.

The 56 tornadoes that touched down over the 37-hour span killed 20 people, injured about 100 others and caused a total of about $580 million in damages.

For more information on the Enterprise tornado and the others that touched in our area, you can check out these links: NWS Birmingham and NWS Tallahassee.

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