Sheffield mayor says new radar gives more severe weather protection for his city

Residents in Sheffield were not warned about a torndao in July 2015.

Posted: Oct 9, 2020 6:22 PM
Updated: Oct 9, 2020 6:54 PM

If you live in the Shoals, you know this all too well.

Sometimes tornados can touchdown without warnings.

With WAAY31’s new Early Warning Radar Network we can see inside the storm faster and tell you as soon as it becomes a dangerous situation.

In July 2015 an EF1 tornado ripped through Sheffield. The storm damaged dozens of homes including the mayors. On that day and several others, the city of Sheffield was caught in a coverage gap.That means there wasn't enough data available to determine if the storm was strong enough to warrant a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning.

But it's a different story there now, thanks to our radar positioned in Muscle Shoals.

WAAY31 spoke with Sheffield Mayor Ian Sanford about that day.

"I had just gotten home that afternoon and I was standing out on the deck watching the weather and I didn't really know what was going on and I went out to the carport to see the shingles flying off the roof," said Sanford.

Sanford said he saw the weather get bad but never heard a siren. So, he walked to his back porch to get a better view of what was coming on July 14th, 2015.

"I was going to come back here and I opened the door and I said where is the water? Then it dawned on me that my next-door neighbor's pool house roof, that concrete with an I-beam, had blown over and was standing up right against my deck," said Sanford.

Sanford had his neighbor's huge roof on his back porch, but he condisdered himself lucky. The rest of his street on Riverbluff Drive was wrecked.

"The whole neighborhood here on Riverbluff Drive looked like a war zone, which is a cliche but that's what it looked like there were trees down everywhere across the roads," said Sanford.

They didn't get power back to their house for more than a week. Sanford said WAAY31’s StormTracker Early Warning Radar Network will give his city more protection.

"It's a great relief this can be the difference between life and death for some folks so the better warnings we have the better weather predictions we have it gives people time to prepare. What happened here didn't give people time to prepare," said Sanford.

No one died or was injured during that EF1 tornado in Sheffield, but dozens of people were temporarily displaced because of damage to their homes.

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