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Safety & Preparedness Past Events Additional Info
Severe weather in the Tennessee Valley can happen during any time of year, but there are two distinct peaks: Spring and Fall. While March, April, and May contain the greatest number of severe weather instances, severe weather for our area peaks again in November. Take the time to prepare now! Click the images below to see which office covers your location, and have a plan ready for when severe weather happens in your area!
Image showing what offices cover what counties in Alabama.  The National Weather Service office in Huntsville covers northern Alabama, including the counties of Lauderdale, Colbert, Franklin, Limestone, Lawrence, Madison, Morgan, Cullman, Jackson, and DeKalb.  Central Alabama is covered by the NWS office in Birmingham, southwest Alabama is covered by the NWS office in Mobile, and southeast Alabama  is covered by the NWS office in Tallahassee. Image showing what offices cover what counties in Tennessee.  The National Weather Service office in Huntsville covers three counties in southern middle Tenessee, including Lincoln, Moore, and Franklin counties. Western Tennessee is covered by the NWS office in Memphis, the rest of Middle Tennesse is covered by the NWS office in Nashville, and eastern Tennessee is covered by the NWS office in Morristown.

Safety & Preparedness

Don't wait until severe weather is happening to have a plan! Take the time to prepare NOW! Know the difference between a Watch and a Warning, and know what to when/if one is issued for your location! Always have more than one way to receive potentially life-saving weather information! Make sure you have fresh batteries in your NOAA Weather Radio, too! Have a plan in place, and know where to take shelter at home, work, church, or any other venue you frequent! Injuries and deaths due to severe weather can be prevented through proper safety and preparedness measures!

The following graphics cover important safety and preparedness information for all of the hazards that may occur in the fall. 

Severe weather awareness graphic describing the difference between a watch and a warning.  A watch means conditions are favorable for severe weather development within the next 4 to 6 hours.  Remain alert!  A warning means severe weather is imminent or ongoing.  Take immediate action!  Severe weather awareness graphic describing wireless emergency alerts.  Wireless emergency alerts are a free public mobile alerting service that targets your current location using radio-like technology to automatically send an alert to your phone if you are in a location within a warning.  The alert is a 90-character text/sms alert sent directly to your cell phone.  These alerts are sent for tsunami warnings, tornado warnings, extreme wind warnings, hurricane warnings, typhoon warnings, flash flood warnings, and dust storm warnings.  Remember, though, always have more than one way to receive alerts. Severe weather awareness graphic describing NOAA weather radio.  NOAA weather radio broadcasts current weather conditions, forecasts, warnings, and a multitude of other products 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  We have six weather radio transmitters across northern Alabama and southern middle Tennessee, including transmitters in Florence, Huntsville, Cullman, Arab, and Fort Payne/Henagar in Alabama, and Winchester in Tennessee.  When buying a weather radio, look for one with Specific Area Message Encoding, also called SAME.  These radios can be set to alert for a specific county and wake you up when storms threaten at night.
Severe weather awareness graphic describing how to take shelter for tornado safety.  When taking shelter, remember: get in, get down, and cover up.  Get in: if you are outside, find a sturdy shelter.  Put as many walls between you and the outside as possible.  Get down: go to the lowest floor of the building.  If possible, use an underground shelter or basement.  Cover up: get under a sturdy table or a stairwell.  Cover up with blankets and pillows.  Severe weather awareness graphic describing flooding and flash flooding.  Flash floods kill more people every year than any other natural disaster with the exception of heat.  What is the difference between flooding and flash flooding?  Flash flooding is a rapid rise and fall of water during heavy rainstorms or after a dam break.  Flooding is a slower response, usually along rivers.  Remember, just six inches of running water can move cars off roadways.  Be extra cautious at night, when flooded roads can be hard to see until you are already in the water.  Remember to turn around, don't drown. Severe weather awareness graphic describing severe thunderstorms and damaging winds.  What makes a thunderstorm severe?  A severe thunderstorm produces hail of an inch in diameter or greater, winds of 58 miles per hour or greater, and/or a tornado.  Each year in Alabama, damaging wind events occur 10 to 20 times more often than tornadoes.  Straight line winds are damaging winds from thunderstorms which are not associated with rotation or a tornado.  These winds can exceed 80 miles per hour, though, and produce large areas of damage.
Severe weather awareness graphic describing lightning safety.  Remember, if you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck!  Move indoors or into a safe shelter until the storms have passed, generally 30 minutes after the last lightning strike.  Safe shelters include substantial buildings and hard-topped vehicles.  Golf carts and picnic pavilions are not safe.  Of all lightning fatalities, most occur around water-related activities (37%), but 17% occur around outdoor sports.  Remember, when thunder roars, go indoors! Severe weather awareness graphic describing what to include in your emergency kit.  Make sure you include a first aid kit, a whistle to call for help, a flashlight and extra batteries, cash and a credit card, a battery powered radio or weather radio, a mobile phone charger ideally solar or battery powered, a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food for each family member including your pets, a change of clothes and shoes for each family member, and prescription medications and other special need items such as diapers, formula, etc. Make sure your emergency kit is ready to go!

Past Events

Here are just some of severe weather events that occurred in the National Weather Service Huntsville area:

  • November 18, 2017: A line of severe thunderstorms moved across the area and produced several reports of damaging straight-line winds, along with two tornadoes. 
  • April 30, 2017: A line of severe thunderstorms raced across the area and produced several reports of damaging straight-line winds and an EF-0 tornado. 
  • March 9, 2017: An MCS moved through the area and produced damaging straight line winds and an isolated weak tornado. 
  • March 1, 2017: A QLCS developed ahead of a slow moving cold front and moved through the TN Valley, producing damaging straight-line winds and several instances of large hail. 
  • November 29-30, 2016: An unstable environment combined with strong lift and wind shear to produce isolated supercells across portions of Alabama and Tennessee. A total of 10 tornadoes impacted the NWS Huntsville County Warning Area. 
  • March 31, 2016: A strong upper level system swept through the southeastern U.S. on March 31st, producing several tornadoes in Mississippi and Alabama, including the Priceville EF-2 tornado. 
  • July 14, 2015: A rare set-up produced 6 tornadoes across the TN Valley during the middle of July.
  • April 28, 2014:  A strong system developed to our west on April 27th and moved through the TN Valley on April 28. Several rounds of severe thunderstorms occurred, producing 13 tornadoes in northern Alabama and southern middle Tennessee. 
  • April 27, 2011: A power storm system produced a record number of tornadoes within the state of Alabama and elsewhere. A total 382 tornadoes were confirmed across 21 states from April 25 through April 28th; 62 of those tornado occurring in the state of Alabama. 
  • October 25, 2010: During the late evening hours of October 24th and early morning of October 25th, 2010, severe thunderstorms moved across northern Alabama, and southern middle Tennessee, producing 5 tornadoes across eastern portion of the area.
  • October 18, 2004: Isolated tornadoes occurred over the northwest portion of the state.
  • 2002 Veteran's Day Outbreak: Isolated tornadoes, hail and wind damage occurred over portions of the southeast.
  • December 16, 2000: A cold front moved through the southeastern U.S. producing severe thunderstorms across the TN Valley.
  • The Airport Road Tornado on November 15, 1989: A cold front moved through the area on November 15, 1989. Several reports of hail and damaging straight line winds occurred across the TN Valley. Additionally, 2 tornadoes touched down in the area, included the F-4 Airport Road tornado.
  • April 3-4, 1974 Super Outbreak: One of the worst tornado outbreaks of record in the Tennessee and Ohio River Valleys occurred over the two day period of April 3rd and 4th in 1974. Over 100 tornadoes were documented over 13 states, including 10 in Alabama. Of those 10 tornadoes in Alabama, 6 were rated F3 or higher.

To view more severe weather events across the TN Valley, click here.


Additional Information