UPDATE: NWS releases statistics on Selma tornado

Published 5:12 pm Sunday, January 15, 2023

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From Staff Reports

The initial report by the National Weather Service on the Selma tornado has rated the twister an EF-2, with maximum winds of 130 mph, and a path 800 yards, or nearly half a mile, wide. According to NWS, and EF-2 tornado has estimated winds between 113 and 157 mph.

“National Weather Surveys have concluded that the damage across Dallas County was consistent with a high-end EF-2 tornado,” said NWS in a press release. “The tornado began just east of Orrville near the intersection of Hwy 22 and Cahaba Rd. As it moved northeast, it intensified as the damage path was nearly parallel with Hwy 22.”

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NWS said as the tornado moved toward Selma, there was tree damage, and a few manufactured homes that had roof and foundation damage. Selma was the hardest hit, though, after the storm moved into the city limits.

“The tornado quickly intensified as it entered the city limits of Selma, nearly parallel to Hwy 22/W Dallas Ave.”

The release also noted damage to structures along Dallas Ave., such as occurred at Crosspoint Christian Church.

“The daycare on W Dallas Ave and Cooper Dr. sustained heavy exterior wall damage and was consistent with the higher-end EF2 wind speeds. Some debris rowing was also noted in the downstream vicinity,” the release stated. “The second area of higher- end EF2 damage was noted downstream at the Selma Country Club where buildings had significant roof and exterior wall damage and there was a complete blow down of extremely large hardwood trees.”

As the tornado moved eastward into Old Town, NWS said the homes in that area were likely saved from wind damage by the old growth trees in the area.

“The homes that sustained damage were observed to have roof material missing or fallen trees that impacted the structure. Very little damage observed to homes was directly wind related likely due to the sheltering nature of the very large and older trees that were embedded within the historic neighborhoods,” the release stated.

Before lifting, the tornado caused significant damage in the downtown areas and east Selma, including the Dallas County Jail, which lost its roof to the high winds.

“As the tornado exited downtown, it crossed Hwy 14, east of Selma, crossing Parkway Dr. Additional structure damage was noted with exterior walls that were collapsed consistent once again with higher EF-2 wind speeds,” the release stated.  “The tornado finally began to weaken and lift just east near the Brantley community near River Rd, but not before some significant damage was observed at the Dallas County Jail on Selfield Rd.”

NWS said the Selma tornado began northeast of Orrville at 12:04 p.m. and traveled 22.72 miles before lifting at 12:31 p.m. southeast of Burnsville. While there were no deaths reported from the storm, NWS says there were 2 injuries.