1901 Birmingham tornado
The 1901 Birmingham tornado was a series of tornadoes and/or strong storms that struck Birmingham, Pratt City, and Irondale on March 25, 1901. The storm was blamed for 16 deaths and the destruction or damaging of approximately 531 buildings. Estimated property losses were $143,000.
The storm came from the southwest, moving to the northeast. The storms had done damage in Texas in the previous days. In the Birmingham area, the storms first struck Ensley around 6:30 A.M., doing little damage. Around 7:30 A.M. they were moving into Pratt City. The storms winds carved a 200-foot path, destroying Pratt City High School and Southern Methodist Church. Electrical and telephone lines were torn down, leaving the electric car service as the primary communication link outside of Pratt City.
At approximately the same time, as Pratt City was struck, storms also struck north Birmingham, destroying and damaging several buildings. A second storm hit the area around 10:00 A.M., but only blew down some trees.
Dark clouds gathered over Southside around 9:40 A.M., visible from 14th to 34th Street South. The tornado struck at approximately 10:00 A.M., carving a 150-foot wide path through Avenue I, Avenue J, and Humboldt Avenue, sometimes skipping over houses along the way. The worst of the damage was said to be between 20th and 34th Streets South. In all, 10 blocks suffered damage and two saw all their structures completely destroyed. Approximately 2,000 people were homeless in the storm's wake.
After leaving Southside, the storm next struck Irondale, destroying at least 25 homes and killing 4. Damage was estimated at $16,000 to $20,000.
A meeting was held in Birmingham the next day in which virtually all of the city's prominent citizens were present or represented. By the meeting's end, several thousand dollars were donated to help those affected.
- "Alabama's Tornado Knocked Down 200 Houses in One City" (March 26, 1901) Daily True American (Trenton, New Jersey)
- Collins, J. D. Illustrated Souvenir of the Birmingham Storm, Monday Morning, March 25, 1901. (1901?). 3rd edition. Accessed via the Birmingham Public Library Digital Archives.