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NWS surveys the Wiregrass after Thursday’s storms

The NWS said an EF1 and EF0 tornado hit the area.
Published: Mar. 19, 2021 at 6:33 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - A team with the National Weather Service spent their day on Friday in the Wiregrass, checking out the damage caused by Thursday morning’s storms.

The team said there were two tornadoes that touched down in the area.

The first tornado touched town East of Wicksburg and lifted Northeast of Brannon Strand.  They gave this one a preliminary of an EF-1, with max winds of 100mph.

The second tornado touched down near Cedar Creek and snapped some small trees and damaged a carport before crossing into Henry County and lifting South of Headland. They gave this second tornado a preliminary rating of an EF-0.

They based these ratings off of what damage they have seen in the area.

Lawanna and Fred Chesnut were one of the storm victims who suffered severe damage from Thursday mornings storm.

“It was finished in about 30 seconds and the thing I remember hearing was everything flying,” Lawanna Chesnut said. “I could hear the roof coming off, that is what I heard the most.”

The roof of their home was ripped away, their shed was demolished and their boat was picked up by the wind and thrown about 150 feet.

“This one came through so fast you didn’t get a chance to hear it or do nothing,” Fred Chesnut said.

The NWS said when they came out to survey the damage they already knew it was a radar confirmed tornado.

“We were actually able to see the debris signature on the radar yesterday when the tornado came through and through our survey today we have confirmed it was a tornado,” Molly Merrifield, NWS Meteorologist, said.

As of Friday afternoon, they do not have a complete path distance of this storm.

“The damage that we are seeing today is pretty in line with the low end of EF1 tornado, but it could always certainly be worse,” Merrifield said. “This part of the country is no stranger to some stronger tornadoes as well.”

The good news, there were no fatalities.

“I thank God we have our lives,” Lawanna Chesnut said. “We’re not injured and we can replace this stuff and we are safe and we thank God for protecting us.”

The Spring severe storm season is upon us, so the NWS encourages everyone to prepare now and have a plan in place a head of time.

“This storm, this happened in the very early morning hours,” Merrifield said. “Over night tornadoes are really hard so we always encourage everybody of having multiple forms of getting a warning, you know make sure you have your alerts turned on of your cell phone, we also love a NOAA weather radio, get the app from your favorite news station.”

To continue to be weather aware during this severe weather season, download our 4 WARN weather app.

The NWS team said they will have full confirmation sometime this evening or tomorrow.

Click here for more details.

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