Not A Tornado: Winds Destroy Businesses, Damage Homes In Atmore

March 17, 2014

There were no injuries as businesses were destroyed and numerous structures were damaged in storms Sunday morning as they rolled through, leaving a trail of damage from Nokomis, FL, through Atmore and to Canoe, AL.

While a tornado warning was in effect at the time, a National Weather Service survey team determined the damage was not caused by a twister. According to the NWS, the team found evidence consistent with downburst straight-line winds, with the strongest winds blowing from the south-southwest to north-northeast.

The weather service said wind speeds were estimated to range from 86 to 110 mph.

The former Kmart building that housed Burke’s Outlet and Fred’s store in Atmore collapsed. The majority of the damage was on the Burke’s end of the structure, while the windows and doors blew in and the roof was lifted at Fred’s. Both businesses were closed at the time.

The building housing the Burke’s Outlet and Fred’s store in Atmore collapsed this morning. The majority of the damage was on the Burke’s end of the structure, while the windows and doors blew in and the roof was lifted at Fred’s. Both businesses were closed at the time.

“It started raining hard and getting loud,” said Charlene Johnson, who was at worked at a gas station very near the Burke’s store. “I locked the door and seen a dark black mass pass by right in front of shook the store.”

Numerous other structures were damaged in Atmore, many from falling trees. The wind also twisted metal barns, caused other structural damage and downed power lines across the southern part of the city.

In Nokomis, FL, on the state line, several trees were downed — several blocking Rockaway Creek Road and Circle Road until they were removed.  A large highway warning sign just north of the state line was toppled, and trees were snapped as the storm moved in a definite line toward Atmore.

After passing through southern Atmore, the storm continued toward the Atmore Aiport east of town, downing trees, destroying barns and causing other damage. Further east, the Canoe Baptist Church was damaged with large pieces of wood driven into the ground like spears.

For damage photos, click here for a photo gallery. photos, click to enlarge.


24 Responses to “Not A Tornado: Winds Destroy Businesses, Damage Homes In Atmore”

  1. Skeptical no more on March 19th, 2014 8:35 pm

    Initially I thought it was a tornado also but researching more, I am lead to believe it was straight line winds. From the National Weather Service website:

    Looking at the debris in the trees behind Burkes and not everywhere else, it does appear straight-line winds is more likely. A tornado would have scattered debris in front and around the store. Looking at the wind blowing across the open area of the parking lot, slamming into the front of the stores then pushing the debris in the trees behind.

  2. Crystal on March 18th, 2014 8:06 pm

    Ex-Treasurer …. I was listening to a countdown show that was on there. I usually listen to Cat Country in the morning and WXBM in the evenings just depends on my mood.

  3. Storm Victim on March 18th, 2014 2:12 pm

    I live in Canoe, AL and we had the downward wind thrust(Tornado) come right over our house. We had about 20 snapped of pines, trailer skirting embeded into pine trees, trailer skirting stuck into a car, hole in roof. This wind thrust(tornado) made a path about 200 yards wide. Then down the road the neighbors lost the whole roof off there barn.

  4. jr on March 17th, 2014 9:06 pm

    Did the NWS survey team go take a look at the park downtown? Did they go see those huge pine trees that where snapped? Was it lightning or a tornado that cause the damage? Just wondering..

  5. Amber on March 17th, 2014 3:40 pm

    A big thank you to Alabama Power! Our tree fell on our power line and I was already making plans to have a big BBQ with all the food in my freezer. We had power by 5:00 Sunday evening! I’m so grateful we have workers who are willing to get out in the wind and rain to make it more convenient for us.

  6. Ex-Treasurer on March 17th, 2014 11:04 am

    Crystal, why were you listening to wxbm. Their prerecorded program is out of New York City, except for the morning……………I mean afternoon show which comes to you live from the EOC (I forgot that we only have ONE morning show on local country radio anymore). Better swich to Cat Country 98.7 if you want home owned/local info. Marty White is serving out his 6 month retirement anyway……..

  7. Just Me on March 17th, 2014 9:16 am

    I was there and it wasn’t just winds…… That was a Tornado…. Winds don’t turn everything around you black…. The online Weather Channel said the Tornado was heading towards Flomaton, right after it came thru Atmore….. So, don’t know who determined it was just “winds”, but they’re so wrong…..

  8. Kim Smith on March 17th, 2014 1:16 am

    Our parking lot at Walgreens looks like a war zone with all the debris from everwhere

  9. Eye Witness on March 17th, 2014 12:37 am

    The NWS is Flat out Wrong I was sitting in the McDonalds Parking lot . I Heard the loud train like sounds and Seen the Tornado, The need to recheck there figures. Undoubtably they are flat out idiots !!!!

  10. shaun on March 16th, 2014 9:35 pm

    My prayers go out to the community.

  11. Judi Stahly on March 16th, 2014 8:20 pm

    Chen’s Buffet is undamaged.

  12. joy bryant on March 16th, 2014 5:55 pm

    I lost most of my home in Molino in Feb. 2008 and it is so frightening and so devastating to your sense of well being….BUT insurance companies are not there to make you well believe me – been there done that! BUT I was in the house when it hit and even though I lost so many irreplaceable things – I survived and have a great love of life !!!
    Thank God the stores were closed, it didn’t hit a chuch or a school –its awful but blessings need to be counted

  13. Crystal on March 16th, 2014 5:12 pm

    I was headed to Century traveling down 113 into Flomaton and it was raining like crazy!! I heard on WXBM that the area was under a tornado watch until 8:45 am. Makes me wonder now if that was part of the same storm….. Thankful that we made it to our destination in one piece. Then while we were there lightening struck something cause the extremely loud boom made me jump!!!

  14. David Huie Green on March 16th, 2014 5:05 pm

    Amazing picture of trees filled with debris

  15. David Huie Green on March 16th, 2014 4:59 pm

    Not sure I could survive loss of Chin’s

  16. Puddin on March 16th, 2014 12:45 pm

    I am so glad this happened on a Sunday. Otherwise someone would almost surely would have been in one or both of those stores. Stuff can be replaced. Im sure they all have insurance.

    Any other damage? Super scary stuff. Hope everyone else is ok.

  17. Sam on March 16th, 2014 11:27 am

    Not that you want this to happen anytime; but at least the stores were closed.

  18. Local Citizen on March 16th, 2014 11:26 am

    Thank you for your coverage. This is a sad situation, at least no one was injured. It could have been much worse this afternoon after the stores opened.

  19. Michelle D. on March 16th, 2014 10:46 am

    Praying no one was inside or was injured. This is awful!

  20. Thankful on March 16th, 2014 10:46 am

    Wow, thankful they weren’t open at that time. Prayers for all affected.

  21. OldMan on March 16th, 2014 10:23 am

    Had me worried out here in the woods, in a trailer. Whew

  22. shocked on March 16th, 2014 10:13 am

    I am shocked. I just was there two days ago. I really hope nobody got hurt!

  23. 429SCJ on March 16th, 2014 9:36 am

    Sorry for the losses at Fred’s and Burke’s. Thank the Lord that there are no injuries.

    Hope that the Chinese buffet is undamaged.

  24. Becka Peebles on March 16th, 2014 9:32 am

    Thankful the stores were not opened yet. Be careful out there and thanks for keeping us up to date.

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