NWS and EMA address lack of tornado warning in Etowah County Sunday

Gadsden EMA speaks about lack of tornado warning

ETOWAH COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Etowah County was under a severe thunderstorm warning and a tornado watch when an EF-1 tornado damaged homes in Glencoe and destroyed a barn and shop in the Tidmore Bend community sometime between 6 and 6:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

But there was no tornado warning.

Chris Darden of the NWS says the storm system was being closely tracked, and was on the ground a short period of time.

He says they'll investigate why no warning was issued. He said they saw nothing on radar to indicate a tornado warning needed to be issued in Etowah County.

Darden says they know tornadoes frequently come out of severe thunderstorm warnings.

After field surveys, NWS investigators determined Monday an EF-1 tornado had apparently touched down in the Rabbittown Road area of Glencoe and apparently one spot of Tidmore Bend Road, a 20 minute drive but short distance as the crow flies from that part of Glencoe.

The head of the Gadsden Etowah EMA, Deborah Gaither, says she thinks the area’s terrain interferes with the National Weather Service’s radar system.

“I believe it has to do with terrain. And it has to do with where the radar can pick up specifics in our county. We are a county that will go from river to high mountains. So there may be some terrain issues with the radar,” Gaither said.

Gaither says that’s happened once before - the weather service issued a delayed warning on March 19, 2018, when tornadoes left damage to homes in Rainbow City and Southside and destroyed a church.

That same storm system wreaked havoc throughout Jacksonville in Calhoun County, damaging, and in some cases destroying homes, business buildings, a church, and even multiple buildings at Jacksonville State University.

She says she’s still getting in damage reports from trees down to roofs being ripped off. In one instance, a home in Hokes Bluff appeared to have its roof lifted off, then set back down at a slight turn.

Darden also says the NWS investigated damage in nearby Cherokee County and determined that damage came from straight line winds.

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