May 1917 tornado outbreak
The May 1917 tornado outbreak was a series of deadly tornadoes spawned by a massive system that swept into Northern Alabama from Kansas and Arkansas on May 27-28, 1917. At least six separate funnel clouds caused damage in the Birmingham District.
The first, which struck at around 8:45 PM, created a 17-mile track through the towns of Kansas and Manchester in Walker County. It destroyed more than 200 homes in a three-block wide path through the middle of Carbon Hill, killing nine people there and three others outside the town.
The second, likely to have been a combination of two funnels which hit at roughly the same time, plowed a 25-mile track from a point southeast of Sumiton to a point east of Morris, clipping the southern edge of Blount County. Ten miners died when the TCI commissary in Sayre collapsed. Seventeen more died from the storm in neighborhing Bradford, a predominantly African-American community. The towns of Village Springs and Majestic were all but swept off the map, with one African American infant in Blount County killed.
A third, smaller twister killed four people in the vicinity of Lees Chapel in Blount County at around 9:45. A fourth, which followed an hour later, flattened 24 of 25 homes in the community of Windham Springs in Tuscaloosa County.
Just after midnight another, weaker twister touched down near Tuscaloosa and trucked toward Woodstock, killing one person and damaging fifteen homes in Taylorville and Bibbville along its path. Half an hour later, a sixth tornado touched down in downtown Sylacauga, wrecking homes, businesses and warehouses and causing the death of an African American man there.
The local toll in deaths exceeded 40 persons, with many more injured and an estimated loss of between $430,000 and $1,000,000 in property.
- Frankenfield, H. C. (June 1917) "The tornadoes and windstorms of May 25-June 6, 1917". Monthly Weather Review pp. 291-298
- Cruikshank, George H. (1920) History of Birmingham and Its Environs: A Narrative Account of Their Historical Progress, Their People, and Their Principal Interests 2 volumes. Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Company. - via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections
- "May–June 1917 tornado outbreak sequence" (February 11, 2015) Wikipedia - accessed May 5, 2015