If someone didn’t know about the tornado that hit Tuscaloosa in 2011, they wouldn’t think twice or even question if it happened driving around our city today.

We continue to rebuild, even as I type. It’s amazing to see the progress our community has made in the past 6 years. With that growth, has come some healing. Anyone here on the dreadful day will always remember and hopefully, never forget. Never forget those we lost and how lucky we are to have come so far.

Whenever I cut the television on and see a tornado watch has been issued or that a twister has torn through another town, I’m reminded and very vividly replay the events of April 27, 2011 over in my mind.

April 27th is just another date on a calendar, unless you were in one of the many towns in the path of the massive EF-4 multi-vortex tornado the swept across the southern U.S. on the date in 2011. If you were in Tuscaloosa you know that date all too well. That day a mile wide tornado destroyed 12% of our city. When the twister first touched down in the Rosedale community, we were witnessing maximum sustained winds of 190 mph.

Ours was just one of the 355 tornadoes that touched down across the south from April 25-29, the largest tornado outbreak in United States history.

My memory of that day started with a call from our morning show host at around 4:30am telling me there was a tornado warning for Tuscaloosa County. The wind outside my house was howling so I woke my family up, got the dogs in the house and headed toward the basement. The wind shook our garage doors for the next fifteen minutes or so and then went silent.

I looked out the window when we went back upstairs and only saw a small tree lying on the ground at the back of our property. It appeared we had made it through; I got ready for  work and was off.

At the time, I lived in the Lakeview area so it normally took me half an hour to get to work, this day that wasn’t going to happen. There was a tree down across the road I live on so I had to turn and head to Tuscaloosa on Hwy. 216. When I got to Brookwood I decided to head down Covered Bridge Road to the interstate and encountered another tree down. After an hour of trying, I made it to work and went into “meteorologist mode” at that point. James Spann was on ABC 33/40 talking about what had happened and what was to come.

My on-air shift started at 3pm. That day I think I was only actually live for the first thirty minutes or so when the first tornado warning hit the listening area. At that point we turned the stations to wall-to-wall coverage from James Spann knowing he could do a better job of tracking a storm.

Around 4:50 – 5 pm, the sky over our station on Skyland Blvd. grew dark and eerie. Spann had been warning us all to, “lookout” for this storm and by the tone of his voice, I think everyone knew this wasn’t going to be just another simple storm.

About 5:10pm, I stepped out front of our studios, pointed my phone camera down Skyland Blvd. toward Lowe’s and captured this…

I've learned a lot about weather coverage that day and how to warn people without creating panic. I also learned that when confronted with the worst of situations, people can come together for the greater good. T-Town Never Down.

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