National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Violent Alabama Tornadoes May 27 & 28, 1917

By H C Frankenfield, Professor of Meteorology, Weather Bureau, Washington DC
(from Monthly Weather Review, June 1917)

The Alabama storms were among the most destructive of the series, and in respect to loss of life they were exceeded only by those of Illinois and Kentucky. The most severe storms occurred in western Walker, northern Jefferson, southern Blount , southeastern Talladega , and southeastern Madison Counties, and they were most destructive in northern Jefferson, where whole mining towns were wiped out. There were also storms of lesser violence in portions of Lauderdale, Franklin, Tuscaloosa, Bibb, Shelby, Etowah, Marshall , and Jackson Counties, all in the northern portion of the State. In all, at least 40 persons were killed, while losses and damage amounted to more than $430,000.

At 8:45pm , a storm moving from southwest toward the northeast stuck the town of Carbon Hill, in western Walker County. It was accompanied by a funnel-shaped cloud, and cut a path about three blocks wide. Felled trees on the north side of the path pointed toward the southeast, and those in the center and on the south side toward the northeast. Five persons were killed, and the damage amounted to about $200,000. In a short time the storm had moved eastward across Walker County to the northern portion of the adjoining county of Jefferson, or perhaps it would be more exact to say that another storm struck the town of Sayre, in northwestern Jefferson County, at the same time that the Carbon Hill storm occurred. The direction of movement was the same and there was a funnel cloud. The path was about one-half mile in width, and felled trees lay in all directions. The town was obliterated, and nine persons lost their lives, with a property loss amounting to about $65,000. The neighboring town of Bradford was also visited, and 17 negroes were reported killed.

At 9:20 pm, the little mining town of Majestic, in north Jefferson County, was destroyed. There were no details given, except that there was very little rain. No lives were lost. At the same time the storm reached Village Springs, Blount County, a little to the northeast of Sayre, with the funnel cloud still resent. The arrangement of the felled trees again indicated a true tornado, those in the center lying with their tops toward the east. A negro infant was killed, while the property loss amounted to about $40,000.

The town of Sylacauga, in southeastern Talladega County, was struck at 12:45 am May 28. There was a well-defined pendant, funnel cloud, and the width of the path was somewhat more than 1 mile. One negro man was killed, and the property loss amounted to about $125,000.

In the town of New Hope, in southeastern Madison County, six persons were killed. No other details were available. The storm also crossed a portion of Tuscaloosa County into Bibb County, and one person was killed at Bibbville.