Prattville Storm Now Identified as Category EF 3 Tornado

Published: Feb. 18, 2008 at 5:24 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 19, 2008 at 8:14 PM CST
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PRATTVILLE, AL -- WSFA 12 News has spoken with Jim Stefkovich from that National Weather Service in Birmingham who is on the scene in Prattville. He has confirmed that the tornado that hit the city is rated an EF-3.

Our meteorologist Rob Hatchell reminds us that this is the relatively new scale.  EF stands for enhanced Fujita Damage Scale.  Tornadoes are rated based upon the damage that occurred.

An example to determine this rating is: "Entire stories of well-constructed houses destroyed; severe damage to large buildings such as shopping malls; trains overturned; trees debarked; heavy cars lifted off the ground and thrown; structures with weak foundations blown away some distance."

WSFA 12 News was first on the air with pictures of storm damage in Prattville.

There is significant damage all along Cobbs Ford Road in the city, including damage to well known businesses like Walmart, RBC Centura Bank, and Whitney Bank. Power lines and power polls have been snapped all over the city and hundreds of homes are damaged or destroyed. As a result a dawn to dusk curfew is in effect until Monday morning and it may continue into Tuesday, according to the mayor.

One resident watched the storm blow through Cobbs Ford Road and told WSFA 12 News, "It's the scariest thing I've been through my entire life." Amazingly, only 29 people were hurt, 4 of the injuries are serious. The victims were taken to hospitals in Montgomery and Prattville for treatment.

As a result of all the incredible damage, Alabama Power confirmed at one point nearly 11,000 people were without power, but as of 10pm that number was down to 5300.

The city of Prattville confirms a fire station was also damage. The mayor tells WSFA 12 News there is damage from County Road 4 all the way to Prattville Christian Academy. The mayor says that all has extensive damage. Some of the neighborhoods that were hit are Silver Hills, Overlook, Prattville East, and Prattville Ridge. Despite the horrific damage the mayor says, "There are blessings in our city."

A door to door search was conducted after the storm hit, the mayor tells WSFA 12 News another door to door search will resume in the morning. The city of Montgomery and other local communities were called in to help Prattville respond to the disaster.

Governor Bob Riley will tour the damage in Prattville and hold a news conference on Monday at 12:00pm.

Here is a partial summary of the damage and occurences from Sunday:

Autauga County:  A confirmed tornado touchdown in Prattville with major damage there.  3500 without power in Prattville.  A mandatory cerfew is in effect tonight (Sunday night).  If you need to pick up presecriptions from the Prattville Walmart, you may  get them at the Millbrook Walmart.

Chilton County:   Reports of damage, several trees down, the Durbin's sign destroyed, a Taco Bell sign along I-65 damaged.  Roof damage at the Days Inn600 out of power in Clanton.

Coosa County:  Numerous reports of trees down.

Covington County:  Reports of damage west of Andalusia and  towards Gantt.  Confirmed damage on Brookland Road north of town where an 18 wheeler turned over, two homes and 3 barns destroyed.  Lots of trees and powerlines down.  EMA officials say you can see the path the storm took.  Also trees down in Straughn and Antioch.

Dallas County: In the Summerfield/Ocmulgee area of Dallas County the storms destroyed two homes.  There are at least 7 homes damaged in the area as well.  Reports of a possible tornado touchdown.  There are also reports of roof and tree damage in the Summerfield area in Dallas County.  750 without power in Selma.

Lowndes County:  5 homes damaged in Collieriene, 5 people taken to the  hospital with minor injuries.  Trees are down in numerous locations.

Stay with WSFA 12 News, the WSFA 12 Storm Team and for the very latest on the severe weather.

If you have storm pictures or know someone in the disaster zone that has a story to tell email us here.