National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Harpersville F-4 Tornado (Shelby County) - January 24, 1964



Estimated Maximum Wind:
210-269 mph
6 Injuries / 10 Fatalities
Damage Path Length:
3.3 miles
Maximum Path Width:
100 Yards
Approximate Start Point/Time:
33.3167/-86.4479 at 7 pm
Approximate End Point/Time:

Climatological Data 1964 Page 2

Storm Information

Storm Information

From the Storm Survey completed by Charles F. Bradley, NWS Birmingham, MIC and J.B. Elliott, NWS Birmingham, Forecaster on January 27th, 1964.

Storm damage was first observed in an area approximately 1/2 mile from where the tornado crossed CR 25 south of Harpersville.  Here, a barn was destroyed.  Metal siding and roofing were lodged in a grove of trees approximately 1/4 mile from CR 25.  Timber and stored corn were scattered over a wide area.  The tornado that struck a grove of medium-sized cedar trees about 3.4 mile south of the town with almost all of them leveled.  It was here that clear evidence existed that it was a tornado.  The trees were pulled toward the center of the tornado path in a very distinct pattern...

Immediately beyond the wooded area was a row of houses along U.S. Hwy 280.  It was here that the heaviest of the damage occurred.  Two houses were completely carried away from their foundations.  One was picked up and carried some 500 feet, where it was slammed into another house.  Four died in that house (one of the injured died later), and 5 died in another house across Hwy 280 about 300 yards NE of the first house that was destroyed.  In the latter house, an electric freezer  weighing several hundred pounds was carried some 150 yards before being dropped.

This article taken from Shelby County Reporter Columbiana, Alabama, September 7, 1972:

"Around 7 pm CST, a tornado roared into Harpersville. It left ten dead and six injured. The path of this one was very narrow, ranging from only 50 yards to about 125 yards in width, but damage was heavy in the narrow path. This one struck entirely without warning. Birmingham radar was monitoring the area at the time. But the line of thunderstorms approaching Harpersville appeared only moderate -- proof that radar is by no means foolproof. Harpersville residents later reported that no unusual and brilliant display of lightning was seen, and most thought it was just an ordinary thundershower"





Harpersville Tornado
Damage near Harpersville
Photo provided by The
Shelby County Reporter