Home Emergency Management News EDM Monday Briefing: Severe Weather Spawns Deadly Tornadoes in Alabama

EDM Monday Briefing: Severe Weather Spawns Deadly Tornadoes in Alabama


Emergency and disaster management briefing for March 4, 2019: Severe storms spawned deadly tornadoes in Alabama that killed at least 23 people; widespread power outages occurred throughout the south after severe storms caused widespread damage and spawned deadly and destructive tornadoes; the same system that spawned severe weather in the south blanketed the Midwest with snow and ice on Sunday; a Russian cargo ship slammed into a bridge in South Korea after hitting a cruise ship; cost estimates are in the tens of millions to extinguish an underground fire burning at an illegal dump site in Arkansas that is producing noxious smoke; the flight data recorder has now been recovered from the fatal crash of the Amazon Prime Air cargo flight in Texas; record temperatures spark 25 wildfires in Australia that firefighters are struggling to contain; heavy rainfall spawned flash floods in southern Afghanistan that killed at least 20 people--including children.

  1. Severe weather that produced powerful storms in the south, spawned at least one destructive and deadly tornado in Alabama. The tornado swept through a main artery in Beauregard, in Lee County, near the Georgia line, killing at least 23 people and leaving others critically injured. Lee County Emergency Management officials noted that the death toll is likely to rise as first responders continue to comb through debris fields. According to officials, the path of destruction was at least a half mile wide, with widespread debris fields that included destroyed homes, overturned cars, snapped trees, downed power lines, and blocked roadways.  
  2. The severe weather that swept through the south has left at least 25,000 people in Alabama without power, and weather forecasters have warned that temperatures are set to drop near freezing, and more severe weather could be on its way for the state. Many are also without power in Georgia, where at least 16,000 residents lost power as severe storms produced and at least one tornado in Houston County, downed trees and power lines and caused damages to buildings. Middle Georgia Regional Airport, in Bibb County, saw two inch hail, but had no reported damage. In South Carolina, more than 8,000 residents were left without power Sunday night as the severe storms produced possible tornadoes, downed trees and power lines, and blocked roads in Columbia.  
  3. The same system that produced severe weather in the south, blanketed Missouri and other Midwest states with snow and ice, and was expected to move into the northeast Sunday night into Monday. Snowfall was anywhere from 2 to 4 inches across Missouri, and the icy road conditions caused a semi-truck to crash on Interstate 44 in Missouri, closing the westbound lanes of I-44 Sunday afternoon in Franklin County. As the storm moves to the northeast, snowfall totals could reach 4 to 8 inches in the greater New York City area, with similar amounts falling in cities as far north as Boston.  
  4. A Russian cargo ship slammed into a bi-level bridge in South Korea on Thursday, then fled the scene, but was stopped a short time later by patrol boats. The crash caused damage to a lower section of the Gwangan Bridge, just off the southeast coast, in Busan, which was closed following the accident. Reports indicate that the ship's captain had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit, and that the ship, the Seagrand--which was going in the opposite direction of its planned course--struck a cruise ship shortly before hitting the bridge.  
  5. An underground fire at an illegal dumping site in Arkansas has been burning for seven months and the cost to extinguish the fire has been estimated anywhere from $15 to $37 million. The fire, which is burning about 70 feet underground, is affecting the 28,500 people in the town of Bella Vista, which is about 170 miles northwest of Little Rock. It is uncertain how the underground fire began, but officials believe it may have started as a brush fire, then spread to other buried wast. According to area residents, the smoke has become noxious, and people living nearby are complaining of respiratory and breathing illnesses.  
  6. Officials have recovered the flight data recorder from the fatal crash of the Amazon Prime Air cargo plane that slammed into Trinity Bay, Texas, near the small city of Anahuac, more than a week ago. The plane, operated by Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc., nosedived into the bay while en route to Houston from Miami on February 23, killing all three people on board. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said on Friday, that search teams had recovered the cockpit voice recorder from the murky water, and having both boxes would be beneficial in helping to better determine the cause of the crash of Boeing 767 aircraft, which is still unclear at this time.  
  7. Record temperatures in Australia have sparked at least 25 wildfires in the southern state of Victoria, the largest in Bunyip State Park, which was started by multiple lightning strikes on Friday. On Sunday, more than 2,000 firefighters, along with volunteers and water-bombing aircraft, fought the blazes,which prompted evacuations and destroyed at least three homes and several properties by noon. The heat wave broke records, making it the hottest start to March on record for the state, and firefighters struggled to contain the blazes as fire behavior was exacerbated by wind changes.   
  8. Heavy rainfall in Kandahar and six other districts led to flash flooding in southern Afghanistan on Friday that killed at least 20 people, including children. The flash floods engulfed nearly 2,000 homes, swept away cars, and stranded at least 500 nomadic people on a river bank. The flooding destroyed hundreds of homes in the Herat province, and left 10 people missing in Arghandab, Daman, Spin Boldak, and Dand districts.   

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.