16 Years ago, on this date in 2000 an EF4 tornado tore through southern Tuscaloosa, killing 11 and injuring more than 100 people.  Nine of the fatalities occurred in mobile homes, and James Spann tells reminds us today the tornado was on the ground for a total of 18 miles in Tuscaloosa County.

I remember being at a radio station promotion and telling the staff, "I've never shut down an event in the middle but everybody has gotta go somewhere safe right now!"  "Days like this, ya just don't forget," said Ken Gray.  The tornado path was estimated to be 750 yards wide at it’s maximum intensity.

James Spann remembers the following...

There was an excellent warning for the tornado; a warning was issued at 12:40 p.m. on that deadly Saturday, 14 minutes before the twister first touched down in a rural area southwest of Tuscaloosa near the Black Warrior River. The tornado crossed Alabama 69 near Shelton State Community College and Hillcrest High School; destroying a shopping center and many homes. The Bear Creek Trailer Park was hit, where many of the deaths occurred. The tornado moved to the east/northeast, south of Skyland Boulevard, and finally crossed Interstate 20/59 near the Cottondale exit.

We caught the tornado live on our tower camera in Tuscaloosa; we were able to show live video of the twister on ABC 33/40 for almost 10 minutes as it rolled through the southern part of the city of Tuscaloosa. Our StormChaser van was heavily damaged in the storm; John Oldshue and his photographer had to rush in to a Hampton Inn to protect themselves as the tornado passed right over their location. The manager of the motel had all of the guests lined up in a hallway on the lowest floor, and nobody was injured there.

Later in the day, the same parent storm dropped an EF3 tornado which stuck the Coats Bend region of Etowah County, near Gadsden, destroying 250 homes and injuring 14 people. Like the Tuscaloosa tornado, excellent warnings were issued by the National Weather Service long before the damage occurred. Just another reminder we can have some very violent weather this time of the year.  -James Spann

Severe Weather threat exist for Sunday 12mid-6am (12/18/2016) for West Alabama.  Please stay weather alert...We remember Dec 16th 2000 and the 11 LIVES LOST!

Tornado and lightning


More From 95.3 The Bear