1956 Birmingham tornado

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The April 1956 Birmingham tornado was a deadly tornado that took place during the afternoon of April 15, 1956 across the Greater Birmingham area. Later rated an F4 on the Fujita scale (not invented until 1971), the tornado killed 25 and injured about 200 people.

While only two tornadoes touched down across the southeastern United States on that day, the Birmingham tornado produced major devastation across portions of Jefferson County, west of downtown Birmingham. The tornado started shortly after 3:00 PM CDT near the Pleasant Grove area and followed a 21-mile long path through McDonald Chapel, Edgewater, Pratt City, Village Creek, and Tarrant before lifting near Trussville near the Jefferson-St Clair County line. The tornado passed just one to two miles north of downtown Birmingham as well as the Birmingham International Airport. About 400 homes across northern Jefferson County were either damaged or destroyed. Many homes were swept away due to their poor construction.[1]

The tornado event is similar to other deadly tornadoes on April 4, 1977 and April 8, 1998. Those two tornadoes which were rated F5 killed 22 and 32 people respectively across most of the same areas that were hit in 1956. However, more solidly built homes were also swept off their foundation. With 25 fatalities, it was the deadliest tornado of 1956 surpassing the Grand Rapids Metro Area F5 that killed 18 on April 3.[2]