7 years pass since historic April 27 tornado outbreak

7 years pass since historic April 27 tornado outbreak
An image of the tornado that tore through the Tuscaloosa, AL, area. Taken by a WBRC tower camera.

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Seven years have passed since April 27, 2011. Ask any adult who was living in Alabama at that time about the date. There's no need for a further explanation beyond the date. The listener will return with proof of its significance.

Like Nov. 22, 1963, or Sept. 11, 2001, it's an exact date that gets seared into a generation's mind. It was a rainy Wednesday that would bloom into a nightmare, the seriousness evidenced by live television coverage feeding horrific images of massive, black tornadoes churning debris as they filled TV screens across the state.

By the end of the day, Alabama would be ravaged by an official count of 62 tornadoes. Nearly 250 people would lose their lives and hundreds more would be injured or see their homes and businesses damaged or destroyed.

The devastation affected 43 of Alabama's 67 counties. Fatalities were reported in Bibb, Calhoun, Cullman, DeKalb, Elmore, Fayette, Franklin, Hale, Jackson, Jefferson, Lawrence, Limestone Madison, Marion, Marshall, St. Clair, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa and Walker counties.

We've included the names of the victims below.

Here's a portion of the coverage from WBRC in Birmingham focusing on the Tuscaloosa tornado.

Of the areas hit, perhaps none was affected like Tuscaloosa, home to the University of Alabama. As television tower cameras relayed live feeds to their audiences, an F5 tornado more than a mile wide destroyed everything in its path. More than 50 of the fatalities came here.

"I'll never forget the feeling of looking at the radar and realizing that we had multiple EF-4 and 5 tornadoes ripping through Alabama," recalled WSFA 12 News chief meteorologist Josh Johnson. "I knew people were being hurt and killed, and there wasn't much we could do to stop it. It seemed like these tornadoes just wouldn't stop coming; as soon as one tornado lifted or moved into Georgia, it felt like two more took its place. It felt like the day would never end.

WSFA 12 News meteorologist Eric Snitil wasn't in Alabama at that time. He would be hired by the station several months afterward. But he remembers it well.

"I was in Anchorage, Alaska at the time," Eric said. "2011 was the year I started at WSFA, but came a few months after the outbreak. I remember covering it on our morning show at KTVA. It takes a special event to justify covering something that doesn't directly pertain to your local viewers, but this was one of them. Some of my first experiences in Alabama involved covering the aftermath in the months following. Seeing the Lake Martin area was something that shaped my perspective and demeanor covering tornadoes on air."

"We learned a lot that day," Johnson said. "So many people died despite excellent warnings and continuous coverage. We've learned that the clarity of our words and messaging must catch up to the power of our radars and warnings. God bless the families of those moms, dads, fathers, sons, brothers and sisters we lost that day. We will never forget. "

Those killed included:

Bibb County (1)
1.    Ricky Paul Smith, 55, Brent

Calhoun County (9)
1.    Ruby Douthitt, 61, Ohatchee
2.    Michael Thomas Forrest, 54, Ohatchee
3.    Tina Marie Forrest, 50, Ohatchee
4.    Francis Arvella Jones, 72, Ohatchee
5.    William Limpscomb, 67, Wellington
6.    Linda Sue Limpscomb, 63, Wellington
7.    Vernon Spencer Motes, 33, Webster's Chapel
8.    James Romaine, 65, Ohatchee
9.    Angel Marie May Stillwell, 13, Piedmont

Cullman County (2)
1.    Lloyd Winford Harris, 68, Cullman
2.    Keenan Jonathan Sullivan, 20, Johnson Crossing

DeKalb County (33)
1.    Chelsie Black,20, Higdon
2.    Charlotte Bludsworth, 36, Sylvania
3.    Belinda Boatner, 67, Higdon
4.    Gene Bullock, 65, Rainsville
5.    Marcella Wells Bullock, 64, Rainsville
6.    Jewell Ewing, 73, Higdon
7.    Emma Ferguson, 6, Henagar-Sylvania
8.    Jeremy Ferguson, 34, Henagar-Sylvania
9.    Tawnya Ferguson, 32, Henagar-Sylvania
10.    Hannah Goins, 3, Rainsville
11.    Kenneth Graham, 56, Valley Head
12.    Linda Graham, 62, Valley Head
13.    Violet Hairston, 90, Fort Payne
14.    Patricia Harcrow, 75, Rainsville
15.    Harold Harcrow, 74, Rainsville
16.    Jody Holliday Huizenga, 28, Sylvania
17.    Lethel Izell, 86, Rainsville
18.    Jimmy Michael Kilgore, 48, Sylvania
19.    Courtney Jo McGaha, 15, Fort Payne
20.    William Michaels, 70, Higdon
21.    Martha Michaels, 72, Higdon
22.    Eulah Miller, Moore's Crossroads
23.    Ida Jessie Ott, 87, Henagar
24.    Timothy Ott, 53, Henagar
25.    Esther Rosson, 81, Rainsville
26.    Peggy L. Wanda Sparks, 55, Rainsville
27.    Terry Tinker, 50, Higdon
28.    William Daniel Vermillion, 42, Fort Payne
29.    Jilda Jo Bergeron Vermillion, 44, Fort Payne
30.    Hubert Wooten, 70, Rainsville
31.    Juanita Wooten, 70, Rainsville
32.    Judith White, 63, Flat Rock, killed in a fire caused by the storm
33.    Wayne White, 68, Flat Rock, killed in a fire caused by the storm

Elmore County (6)
1.    Candice Hope Abernathy, 23, Eclectic area
2.    Kammie June Abernathy, 5, Eclectic area
3.    Melissa Ann "Missy" Myers Gantt, 43, Eclectic area
4.    Mary Alice Lee, 74, Lake Martin
5.    Martha Ann Gray Myers, 67, Eclectic area
6.    Rebecca Lee Woodall, 70, Lake Martin

Fayette County (4)
1.    Jeffrey W. Kemp, 60, Berry
2.    Reba Kemp, 60, Berry
3.    Leon Spruell, 76, Berry
4.    Sylvia Spruell, 69, Berry

Franklin County (26)
1.    Donna Renee Berry, 52, Double Springs
2.    Nila Jo Black, 68, Phil Campbell
3.    Zan Reese Black, 46, Phil Campbell
4.    Jeffrey Dewight Cotham, 35, Phil Campbell
5.    Jack Cox, 78, Phil Campbell
6.    Charlene Crochet, 41, Russellville
7.    Donnie Gentry, 63, Phil Campbell
8.    Patricia Gentry, 50, Phil Campbell
9.    Donald R. Heaps, 49, Russellville
10.    Lester W. Hood, 81, Phil Campbell
11.    James Robert Keller Jr., 33, Phil Campbell
12.    Ricky Ethan Knox, 10, Phil Campbell
13.    Amy LeClere, 33, Phil Campbell
14.    Jay W. LeClere, 45, Phil Campbell
15.    Dagmar Leyden, 56, Russellville
16.    Edgar Mojica, 10, Russellville
17.    Claudia I. Mojica, 38, Phil Campbell
18.    Kelli Thorn Morgan, 24, Russellville
19.    Mike Morgan, 32, Russellville
20.    Edna Lucille Bradley Nix, 89, Phil Campbell
21.    Martha Lou Nix Pace, 64, Phil Campbell
22.    Georgia Schribner, 83, Phil Campbell
23.    Jack E. Tenhaeff, 67, Russellville
24.    Sonya Collette Trapp, 48, Phil Campbell
25.    Carroll Dean "C.D." Waller, 76, Phil Campbell
26.    Gerri Waller, 64, Phil Campbell

Hale  County (6)
1.    Cora L. Brown, 68, Greensboro
2.    Gerald C. Brown, 70, Greensboro
3.    Jerry Lee Hodge, 64, Sawyerville
4.    Henry Lewis, 26, Sawyerville
5.    Frankie Lunsford, 55, Sawyerville
6.    Elizabeth C. White, 25, Sawyerville

Jackson County (8)
1.    Kathy Gray Haney, 46, Pisgah  
2.    Herbert Satterfield, 91, Pisgah
3.    Ann Satterfield, 81, Pisgah
4.    Janie Shannon, 80, Higdon; Originally from Chickamauga, Ga.
5.    Shelba Jean Shannon, 58, Flat Rock
6.    Katherine Elease Whited, 76, Flat Rock
7.    John Whited, 77, Flat Rock
8.    Branen Warren, 13, Bridgeport

Jefferson County (21)
1.    Milton Edward Baker, 68, Cahaba Heights
2.    Bessie Brewster, 72, Pratt City
3.    Iva Mae Cantrell, 73, Pleasant Grove
4.    James Jerry Clements, 66, Pleasant Grove
5.    Cheryl Denise Cooper, 47, Pleasant Grove
6.    Canatha Hyde Earley, 71, Pleasant Grove
7.    Mae Bell Garner, 87, Kimberly
8.    Janet Dickinson Hall, 55, Concord
9.    Reba Jane Jones, 76, Pleasant Grove
10.    Jennifer Leonard Jones, 26, Concord
11.    Michelle Kreider, 30, Concord
12.    Michael David Kreider, 10, Concord
13.    Haley Alexis Kreider, 8, Concord
14.    Carrie Grier Lowe, 26, Pleasant Grove
15.    Ernest C. Mundi, Jr., 53, Concord
16.    Kenneth Ray Nation, 64, Forestdale
17.    Deniece Kemp Presely, 57, Birmingham
18.    Louella Polarie Thompson, 81, Pleasant Grove
19.    Tracy Traweek, 39, Pleasant Grove
20.    Nancy Lynn Wilson, 56, Pleasant Grove
21.    Ramona Sanders-Walker, 47, Pleasant Grove

Lawrence County (14)
1.    Matthew Adams, 21, Moulton
2.    Earl Lewis Crosby Sr., 63, Mount Hope
3.    Mike Daworld Dunn, 58, Moulton
4.    Aurelia Guzman, 12, Moulton
5.    Zora Lee Jones Hale, 80, Hillsboro
6.    Lyndon Lee Doby Mayes, 74, Langtown
7.    Mary C. Mayes, 76, Langtown
8.    J.W. Parker, 78, Mount Hope
9.    Donald "Duck" Ray, 73, Chaleybeate
10.    Horace Grady Smith, 83, Moulton
11.    Helen Smith, 84, Mount Hope
12.    Allen O'Neal Terry, 49, Moulton
13.    Herman O'Neal Terry, 80, Moulton
14.    Edward Vuknic, 66, Chaleybeate

Limestone County (4)
1.    Carol Jan McElyea, 67, Athens
2.    Janice Dorothy Peden Riddle, 54, Tanner
3.    Roger Glen Riddle, 55, Tanner
4.    Shannon Gail Sampson, 39, Madison

Madison County (9)
1.    Gregory John Braden, 58,Toney
2.    Katie Cornwell, 15, Harvest
3.    Harold Fitzgerald, 65, Harvest
4.    Milinia Nicole Hammonds, 32, Harvest
5.    Ronnie McGaha, 40, Harvest
6.    Bobby Joe Moore, 61, Harvest
7.    Philomena Muotoe, 79, Toney
8.    Frederick Post, 72, Harvest
9.    Rachel Renee Tabor, 37, Harvest

Marion County (25)
1.    Rodney Gene Ables, 51, Hamilton
2.    Bridget Barnwell Brisbois, 34, Hackleburg
3.    Michelle Brown, 43, Hamilton
4.    Robbie Cox, 68, Hackleburg
5.    Tina Donais, 36, Hackleburg
6.    Chris Dunn, 32, Hackleburg
7.    Charles Tommy Garner, 75, Hackleburg
8.    Mae Garner, 79, Hackleburg
9.    Ed Hall, 53, Hackleburg
10.    Teresa Gay Hall, 50, Hackleburg
11.    Tammy Johnson, 54, Hamilton
12.    Donna Lee "Leah" Jokela, 77, Hackleburg
13.    Kaarlo Jokela, 76, Hackleburg
14.    Linda Faye Knight, 57, Phil Campbell
15.    Freddie Lollie, 81, Hackleburg
16.    Vickey Lollie, 55, Hackleburg
17.    John Lynch, Hackleburg
18.    Cledis Inez McCarley, Hackleburg
19.    Vicky McKee, 47, Hackleburg
20.    Faye O'Kelley, Hackleburg
21.    Jacob Ralph Ray, 5, Hamilton
22.    Virginia Jenny Ann Revis, 53, Hamilton
23.    Ken Vaughn, 24, Hackleburg
24.    Allan Mark Wideman, 49, Hamilton
25.    Jeanette Cochran Wideman, 52, Hamilton

Marshall County (5)
1.    Ann Hallmark, 54, Arab
2.    Jayden Hallmark, 17 months , Arab
3.    Jennifer Hallmark, 31, Arab
4.    Phillip Hallmark, 56, Arab
5.    Shane Hallmark, 37, Arab

St. Clair County (14)
1.    Oberia Layon Ashley, 86, Ragland
2.    Precious Necale Fegans-Hartley, 27, Pell City
3.    Leah Brianne Isbell, 7, Ashville
4.    Ronnie Eugene Isbell, 56, Ashville
5.    Tammy Bonita Isbell, 32, Ashville
6.    Bertha Smith Kage, 91, Shoal Creek
7.    Thomas Carl Lee, 64, Ashville
8.    Stella Mae Lovell, 97, Springville
9.    Gayle McCrory, 56, Odenville
10.    Sandra C. Pledger, 68, Leeds
11.    Albert Luther Sanders, 44, Ashville
12.    Angela Lynn Sanders, 43, Ashville
13.    Charlie Andrew Wolfe, 68, Ashville
14.    Nettie Ruth Wolfe, 68, Ashville

Tallapoosa County (1)
1.    Katherine Blanche Massa, 70, Dadeville

Tuscaloosa County (43)
1.    Minnie Acklin, 73, Tuscaloosa
2.    Jeffrey Artis, 51, Tuscaloosa
3.    Scott Atterton, 23, UA student from Bryant
4.    Jennifer V. Bayode, 35, Tuscaloosa
5.    Caiden Blair, 2 months
6.    Michael Bowers, 3 , Tuscaloosa
7.    Loryn Alexandria Brown, 21, died Tuscaloosa, from Wetumpka
8.    Mary Bryant, 43 , Tuscaloosa
9.    Hugh Graham Davie, 55, Tuscaloosa
10.    Ta' Christianna Dixon, 8 months , Tuscaloosa
11.    Danielle Downs, 24, Tuscaloosa
12.     Arielle Edwards, 22, Tuscaloosa
13.    MaKayla S. Edwards, 5, Tuscaloosa
14.    Melgium Farley, 58 , Tuscaloosa
15.    Cedria Harris, 8 , Tuscaloosa
16.    Keshun Harris, 5, Tuscaloosa
17.    Ashley Harrison, 22, UA student from Dallas, Texas
18.    Shena Hutchins, 26, Tuscaloosa/Rosedale
19.    Carolyn Ann Jackson, 50, Tuscaloosa
20.    Jacqueline Jefferson, 45, Tuscaloosa
21.    Thelma May Bennett Krallman, 89, Tuscaloosa
22.    Tennie Mozelle Lancaster, 95, Tuscaloosa
23.    Davis Lynn Gordo Lathem, 57, Tuscaloosa
24.    Velma T. LeRoy, 64, Tuscaloosa
25.    Dorothy Lewis, 61, Tuscaloosa
26.    Thomas D. Lewis, 66, Tuscaloosa
27.    Yvonne Mayes, 30s, Tuscaloosa
28.    Christian A. McNeil, 15 months, Tuscaloosa
29.    William Robert McPherson, 85, Forest Lake
30.    Zyqueria McShan, 2, Tuscaloosa
31.    Melanie Nicole Mixon, 21, UA student from Mulga
32.    Perry Blake Peek, 24, Tuscaloosa
33.    Lola Pitts, 85, Tuscaloosa
34.    Terrilyn Plump, 37, Tuscaloosa
35.    Kevin Rice, 36, Tuscaloosa
36.    Annie Lois Humphries Sayer, 88, Tuscaloosa
37.    Judy Darlene Rheams Sherrill, 62, Brookwood
38.    Morgan Marlene Sigler, 23, UA student from Bryant
39.    Marcus J. Smith, age 21, Tuscaloosa
40.    William Chance Stevens, 22, Tuscaloosa
41.    Justin Leeric Thomas, 15, Tuscaloosa  
42.    Patricia Hodo Turner, 55, Tuscaloosa
43.    Willie Lee (Trey) Turner III, 21, Tuscaloosa

Walker County (9)
1.    Kathleen Brown, 64, Oakman
2.    Jonathan Doss, 12, Cordova
3.    Justin Doss, 10, Cordova
4.    Pam Jett, 43, Sipsey
5.    Harold "Junior" Jett, 47, Sipsey
6.    Annette Singleton, 46, Cordova
7.    Wesley L. Starr, 46, Cordova
8.    Jackson Van Horn, 24, Cordova
9.    Lucille Waters, 89, Argo

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