National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Moundville F4 Tornado-
Hale - Tuscaloosa Counties
January 22, 1904


Estimated Maximum Wind:
150 Injured/ 36 Fatalities
Damage Path Length:
15 miles
Maximum Path Width:
200 yards
Approximate Start Point/Time:
at 1220 am
Approximate End Point/Time:
Path Estimated

"The violent, killer tornado destroyed the entire business portion of Moundville, except for one store. The freight and passenger depot of the railroad, seven freight cars, a cotton ginnery, a livery stable, a grist mill, 21 negro cabins, the town hotel and 10 substantial homes were destroyed. Everything in the tornado's path was swept aside. "

This article provided by the Tuscaloosa News Tuscaloosa, Alabama February 25, 1968

"At least 37 people were killed and around 150 people were injured by the tornado that moved through the Moundville area. The business section of Moundville, a small station on the Alabama Great Southern Railroad, was wiped out of existence on this day. Great giants of the forest were twisted, bent and broken. Fields were laid bare and houses, fences, and outbuildings were demolished. The Alabama Great Southern Railroad lost their water tank, depot and warehouse, with contents of 7 railroad cars, some of which were well ladened. Some of the victims were carried over 200 yards by the tornado. The store houses of R.L. Griffin, W.P. Fifer, A.D. Griffin, W.J. Wiggins & Sons, W.J. Dominick and J.H. Dominick were struck and leveled. The Griffin Hotel was flattened out. Two people were significantly injured by flying lumber missiles. "

This article provided by the Birmingham News Birmingham, Alabama January 23, 1904

The tornado at Moundville, Ala., on January 22, 1904, was first felt 2 miles southwest of Moundville, Hale County, Ala., at about, 120 am. , seventy-fifth meridian time. The previous evening was warm, with moderately heavy rains at intervals, and the wind blowing in fitful, heavy gusts from the southeast and south. The tornado was most destructive at Moundville, at which place nearly every building was demolished, several freight cars destroyed, 36 persons killed, and 80 injured out of a population of about 300.

The path of the storm extended from southwest to northeast; it was about 5 miles in length and 200 yards wide at the point of greatest destruction. It was accompanied with a funnel-shaped cloud, which had a phosphorescent glow and emitted blinding flashes of lightning, and from which was heard a loud, rumbling noise, resembling that caused by a nnmber of rapidly-moving freight trains. The tornado lasted but a few minutes, and there seems to have been no evidence of its having any bounding motion.

A large, well-constructed railroad warehouse, 40 other frame buildings, a large water tank, and several freight cars were literally torn to pieces. It is reported that some of the timbers of the structures destroyed were twisted and splintered, and that the ground along the path of the storm was swept bare of vegetation. Bales of cotton, stored in the warehouse mentioned above, were torn open and the cotton scattered for some distance. While the destructive force of the storm did not extend over 5 miles northeast of Moundville, debris from that place is reported to have been carried as far as Tidewater, a village in Tuscaloosa County, about 19 miles to the northeast. Effort was made to ascertain the direction of the whirling motion of the storm, but reports as to this are too conflicting to be of value. The storm occurred at such an hour that few persons saw the funnel-shaped cloud or noted its movements.

At Tuscaloosa, about 15 miles north, and at Greensboro, about 24 miles south of Moundville, there was much lightning, moderately heavy rains, and high, but not destructive winds.

At Hull, a small town about 5 miles northeast of Moundville, a large lumber mill was destroyed. At Birmingham, about 60 miles northeast, the wind mas also destructive, demolishing 35 cabins in the northern suburbs of that city, though causing no loss of life. The highest regisistered wind velocity at that place for 5 minutes was 50 miles per hour from the southeast, with an extreme of 60 miles per hour, though the storm seems to have lost its tornado characteristics before reaching that place. The approximate value of property destroyed is as follows: Moundville, $80,000; Hull, $8000; Birmingham, $4000; total, $892,000.

The tornado at Moundville occurred on the southeast side of a decided barometric depression which swept rapidly northeastward over northern Mississippi, or northwestern Alabama, duirng the night of January 21-22, when the pressure was rather low, though not extremely so, at Birmingham, Meridian, Mobile, and Montgomery.


Report Courtesy of Digitized by Google & TORNADO AT MOUNDVILLE, ALA. By Frank P. Chaffee, Section Director, Montgomery, Alabama February 8, 1904. Monthly Weather Review Volume 32 Issue 1 P12 (January 1904)

Science July-December 1904 P57



Luckily, a northbound train pulled into Moundville very soon after the tornado occurred. The engineer, seeing what had happened, put his locomotive in reverse and raced all the way backwards to Akron where he sent a telegraph message to Tuscaloosa appealing for help. Doctors from Moundville, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham worked for two days treating the injured in temporary hospitals that were set up on Dr. Griffin’s back porch and at the Elliott store. That was the only store left standing. A newspaper reporter from the Birmingham paper traveled by train to write about the tornado. I think the name of the newspaper was the old Birmingham Ledger.

An infant was snatched from its crib in the lower part of town and hurled through the air. It was airborne as it passed over the demolished stores. It was deposited unijured in an old cotton field more than 100 yards away.

A woman was blown into a well 80-feet deep. She was later pulled out of the water still alive and not seriously injured. She was able to walk around.

A horse was also blown into a well and later pulled out without a scratch.

A trunk was picked up and deposited in Taylorville south of Tuscaloosa. A hat was found 9 miles away. It was new and had never been sold. Bolts of cloth were carried several miles.

Everything in the tornado path was swept aside including heavily laden freight cars standing on the tracks. The tornado sucked heavy timbers from the rain cars and scattered them nearby.

One of the nicest buildings in town was the Griffin Hotel. It was demolished as if a playhouse. Two men staying there met their death–one was a Birmingham salesman.

Among the first people to reach the scene was the chief of police of Tuscaloosa and physicians from Tuscaloosa. The injured and dying had already been carried to the home of Dr. R. J. Griffin and the Elliott store on the east side of town where a temporary hospital had been set up.

The Moundville Times


Damage Information
Search for Tuscaloosa News June 5, 1982 Page 2
Search for Tuscaloosa News May 27, 1973 Page 44
Monthly Weather Review Article



Moundville Tornado
Moundville Damage
Courtesy Tuscaloosa News
Moundville Tornado
Moundville Tornado Damage Path
Courtesy Monthly Weather Review
Moundville Tornado
Surface Analysis January 22nd 8 am
Courtesy of NOAA Central Library