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Master Mechanic

I hope you came thru the tornado that went thru part of Prattville OK!:eek: My sister had called me, (she lives just north of Selma), and said that the shopping center that she and a friend do some shopping at there in P'ville was heavily damaged!

She also had some bad news about the tornado that went thru Summerville, just west of where she lives. The Garage/body shop/auto remanufacturer that her husband works at was totally destroyed, along with several houses and other businesses.

So far I have not heard of any deaths associated with todays storms here in central Alabama. Haven't heard anything about south Alabama yet.
Evening Gang: Lara is still doing well. She actually let John sleep all night yesterday.
I actually got some MRR time in today. I went to the basement and finally got the track plan for Clark Gardens finished, I hope. This is for the lower phase 1. I now have to ink the drawing and then do an overlay for the upper layer. The layout is for display not operation. There will be 8 trains running on the lower and 4 trains running on the upper. The lower is today and the upper is 1930s. Now i have to get at working on my layout. I got started raising it to 50 inches. Now I need some help as its more then I can lift and add blocks under the legs by myself.
Steve I'll add my question to the already asked. How's the ship refloting going? Also how about the move to NZ?
Well it's bed time and I need to check my E-mails.
Good Night All


Fleeing from Al
Hi CJ and all,

Thanks for thinking of me. It was a harrowing day down here. The squall line really started to pop about 2:00 pm and the tornado touchdowns started up in Dallas County. I was tracking them on radar and all of the would curve just to north of Prattville until about 2:45, when one storm, N6, developed and never lost its direct line of travel to Prattville. It developed a vortex signature in Lowndes County and briefly touched down on the outskirts of Whitehall.

I expected it to start curving north after it crossed the Lowndes/Autauga county line but it never wavered. I got the family and all out emergency lighting down in the basement just in case. I continued to watch the storm as it continued on a line that was basically right over my house. It looked like it would be just a severe thunderstorm but, about five miles south of the house, it developed the hook shaped echo again.

Surprisingly, there was very little rain falling and just some occasional lightning with no sign of any rotational cloud movement. The radar doesn't lie, though, so I went outside to watch the wall cloud and listen. You've probably heard the old saying about tornado's sounding like freight trains, and they do, if they are right on top of you. If they are close but not closer than a mile, they sound like continuous low rumbles of thunder. Since we had been having thunder, I stood outside to listen, There were a few normal rumbles of thunder and then one that didn't stop and was getting louder. That was enough for me. I headed for the basement with all due haste.

We have a very heavily constructed pool table in the basement and that's what we took shelter under. The guys that made the pool table did a much stronger job than I did on my layout. :) I had timed the storm to be over us in three minutes when I hit the basement. In those three minutes, we had 71 mph straight-line wind gusts and .94 inches of rain. It was the most torrential rain I have ever seen in my life. I listened for the dreaded freight train sound but luckily the trains were all sitting quietly on the layout and no other freight train came by.

After five minutes, the rain slacked off some so I cautiously opened the cellar door to see what was happening since the storm should have been to east of us by that time. It was, probably a mile off in the distance. There was a huge rotating wall cloud with a a funnel cloud beginning to move toward touch down again and a secondary funnel cloud just to the north. I could see that touchdown was going to happen right in one of the main parts of Prattville and there was nothing I could do but watch. It was about as helpless as I've ever felt.

The tornado has apparently lifted back into the wall cloud while it was over our neighborhood and then descended again into one of the most heavily populated parts of Prattville. I suffered no damage except a few tree limbs down and a few shingles blown off. Many other people here were not so fortunate. One never knows real numbers this early into the incident but the current estimate is 30 homes and apartment buildings destroyed and 170 homes and apartment buildings damaged. The two shopping center across the street from each other, one with a Walmart and the other with a K-Mart were heavily damaged and appear to be constructive total losses to me. The Whitney Bank Building, which was a four story building, is now a two story building. There were numerous other businesses that suffered everything from blown-in windows to total collapse. The funnel cloud dissipated about a half-mile north of the main business area, sparing the next section of town to the north the same kind of damage so it could have been much worse. The squall line was also very narrow and moving at 60 mph so the whole thing was over in less than five minutes. If this had been a 100 mile wide, slow moving squall line, the results would have been truly disastrous.

For some reason which makes no sense to me, they have suspended searching the collapsed structures until first light. If there are people alive in any of these collapses, they may not make it until morning. In California, after the Loma Prieta earthquake, we searched for 80 hours straight using dogs, infrared, and thermal imaging cameras. But, I'm not in California, so all I can do is hope there are no living persons in any of those structures.

They mayor says there were no fatalities. Until all the collapsed structures are searched, I don't know how he can make that statement, and I hope he doesn't end up eating his words. The last estimate was 40 hospitalized injured with four in critical condition. There were uncounted numbers of walking wounded treated at triage stations.

So, as usual with life, fate, God, physics, luck, whatever you want to attribute it to, meant the difference of a few miles and lot of injury and destruction. I'm very thankful that my family and I are safe.

I saw some of the footage at Summerville and they showed that body shop. Whatever cars weren't totaled when they were bought in are now. :( I haven't heard of any fatalities anywhere in Alabama, which is amazing since the current estimate is that there 30 tornado touchdowns in the state.

Sorry for the long ramble but it was quite a day and it feels good to write it all down.
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Lazy Daydreamer
Jim - glad to hear you and your family survived the tornado(es)!:eek: We get'm up here too, but not quite as often as you guys do.

Paul-In-Texas, good know that baby Laura is doing well and that you finally got in some quality time with your trains!

Steve B

Jim Glad i was not in your shoes, thats an account straight from hell, glad your all safe and well,,, i can't understand why they stopped searching, you DON'T give up untill your certain everyone is accounted for


S.L.O.&W. Trainman
Jim, WOW! That is a scary story. So glad that you and your family are safe and suffered minimal damage to your property. I was quite worried for you when I heard Prattville on the News. I do hope that the death toll stays at 0. Buildings can be rebuilt, as horrible as it must be to lose your home in a storm. My prayers to all of you down there as Prattville recovers from this. I too can't believe they put off searching for people. Hope their is a full investigation of why they would do that.

My family and I were caught out driving in a storm that produced a small tornado here in NYS years ago. It was raining so hard that the water was running into the car through the fresh air vents. By the time it was over there was 6" of hail on the ground. We were lucky enough to get behind a large concrete building and away from the trees that were coming down and sit out the storm. Driving home, homes had been torn apart and trees were torn into matchsticks. One mobile home was picked up and thrown 200 yards and landed on its back. Two children died in it and the grandmother who was taking care of the kids lived but never walked again. One 200 acre field of Tomatoes and Peppers planted a couple of weeks earlier looked as though it had been mowed. You could see the path of the storm about 100 yards wide cut right across the field. You could also plainly see the wind pattern of the storm. We followed the path right towards our Mobile home (On a lot in the country). We didn't expect to see it intact, but the storm lifted or changed path just a few hundred yards before it reached our home. The poor dog we had used to go berserk every time we got a thunderstorm after that though. The weather people at the time refused to say it was a tornado and called it a "Blow Down" (which can be just as bad). I looked up tornados in NYS a few weeks ago after the first round of ones down your way and found that that storm is now listed as a tornado. I don't want to anywhere near one myself again........
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Maytag "Danged Agitator"
In one sense I can see the search being suspended, if you have no emergency lighting it is better to keep the searchers safe than end up with more injuries but also there should be some kind of emergency lighting available. I have seen searches here in Indiana continue by automotive headlights.


Running the MC & Buffalo
Good Morning Folks ! Wow sorry to hear about the latest round of storms out your way . Jim glad that your family is ok . Prayers to the less fortunate. What I don't understand is. If I lived in the Midwest I think I would build a storm cellar . Why don't more people have them ? Seems to me it should be part of the building code. just wondering . I remember when we had all those useless bomb shelters back in the fiftiies and sixties. Seems these would be more usefull. Paul gald that your grandaughter is home and doing good. And before I forget Happy Washington's Birthday and Presidents Day !!
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Registered Member
Staff member
Good morning folks, glad to hear everyone is OK. I was going to complain about it being 8F yesterday and it's raining today, but after reading the posts I find I haven't a darn thing to complain about. Thankfully there was no reported deaths from the twisters, everything else can be rebuilt. Jim that must have been a scary time waiting out the storm with your family, thank God you've all made it through the ordeal safe and sound.
Paul, that's great news that your granddaughter is home and is doing well.



Master Mechanic
Jim! Glad to know that you made it thru with little damage. :D:D:D
While we were very fortunate that we didn't have any tornadoes here with the line as it came thru, we did lose some trees with it. No big deal, trees can be replaced.

Have they decided what the strength was as yet? EF3 or stronger it looks like from the damage pix I saw this mornin'.

Anyone who has never been thru a tornado has no real idea what its like. I don't think words can adequately describe what the feelings are when you are in one.

Edit: This just in from NWS Website.
FROM 2:31 PM UNTIL 3:30 PM.
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S.L.O.&W. Trainman
Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhhhh, Yawn....... I have been mixing the Elementary West CD from our county Music Festival since 11AM this morning. The elementary festivals are the hard ones due to the fact that the participants are 5th and 6th graders. Now these kids are wonderful for their age but spending seven hours (minus a couple breaks) does one in a bit. I think I am going to call it quits for the day and go play trains.

Now the band was pretty easy, the chorus I had to play with reverb and EQing to get something that sounded at all right. There was the parents sitting right by the Left mic that had to make grunting noises during the applause and clapped really loud. Had to do some creative cutting to fix that......... (They evidently thought it was a sports event instead of a concert.....) They stayed for the Orchestra as well (Oh the joy). I managed to get through the orchestras rendition of the 4th. movement of Brahms first Symphony derainged for beginning Orchestra and that is all I can take for today.

I keep thinking of String Jokes: The definition of a Violin: It's an instrument that sounds exactly like the dragging of a horses tail across the intestines of a cat.

What's the difference between a Violin and a Viola? The Viola burns longer.

What do you call a sick violinist at the bottom of the river? A good start.

BTW, do any of you guys know where the French Horn came from? (England)

Do any of you know where the English Horn came from? (That's right, it came from France, so it all evens out)......

Definition of a minor second in music? Two 6th grade flutes playing in unison...... (Go look it up)

OK I'll stop!:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :p
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Fleeing from Al
Good, evening, guys. My typing will be even worse than normal because My left hand is swollen to twice its normal size and I have septicemia. I got it from our cat, who ran back upstairs just before the tornado was supposed to hit. I, of course, had to run up and get him because the wife was terrifed he'd killed if a tornado hit. I had one windw in my office open slightly so I could the sound of any tornado coming. He ran right for that window and was starting out intensely. I leaned over to pick him up and that's when the trouble started I assume he felt the same fear we did because he attacked my like I imagine a wild bobcat would. He sunk his fangs into my hand and I ended up with a two 10 mm long, 3 mm deep lacerations. He doesn't have front claws, thank goodness, but when I finally got his head under control, he attacked with his hind claws, opening another set of laceratons, I finally had to do with him what I had to with suspects that were fighting me, get him in a choke hold so he couldn't breath and would go limp. I felt bad doing that but he would have torn me up even worse if I didn't get his attack stopped and I had to get back down to the basement. The area where lacerated me with his hind claws started swell last night and infiltrate from the septicema was oving up my arm this morning. The pain was about an 11 on a 1-10 scale. :( I got to the doc and she put me on Clindamycin, which should stop this before it gets into my lymph system, which would be a very bad thing.

Still, my problems are nothing compared to the people who lost everything and I'm very grateful. Thank you all for thinking of me and your good wishes. The South does pull together when there is a disaster and everyone is being taken care of by family members, friends, and the local churches.

There was no reason to stop the searching last night. They had tons of light towers, search dogs, and Montgomery FD and Maxwell AFB were on-scene with their thermal imaging equipment. I suspect that, since Prattville has never had a disaster of this proportion before, the officials were just not very well trained, as well as really being in a collective state of shock. So far, it seems like that gamble has paid off.

CJ, the NWS issued a statement tonight that the tornado averaged 450 yards in width and that, in some of the residential areas, the tornado was close to or at an EF4 rating. I believe that from seeing some of the houses where there was nothing left but a slab. We have the chance for more severe wather Friday and Sunday but I'm praying these will just be the garder variety thunderstorms we usually get.

Paul, I don't have a clue why the building code down here doesn't require storm shelters. One of my criteria for buying a house was a basement, both for the possibility of a layout but, more importantly, so we had a chance to savve our lives in an event just like Sunday's. I would guess that about 5% of the homes in Prattville have basements or storm shelters and a large number of people live in manufactured homes, which are death traps in this kind of tornado. Although Prattville is better economically than most of the state, it's still basically a poor area and I guess they don't want to mandate something that will cause an increase in housing prices. The folks here are pretty tolerant of rsk. The population, by and large, is very religious, and they believe that, if it's in God's plan to get your ticket punched today, that's just the way it is. Seems foolish to me but I have to remember that I'm from a rich state with lots of regulation now living in a poor state with very few regulations. They were living this way before I arrived and I assume they wil be living this way when it's time to get my ticket punched.

Anyway, my hand is getting really sore now so I'll sign off with my thanks for all your best wishes and prayers.


Building code requiring mandatory storm shelters for all homes??? Never heard of any state having that...including your "rich" state that builds cities on earthquake faults, residential sites in fire or mudslide hazard areas (Gee, I wish we were smart like that in Alabama.)

I would agree that Mobile Home parks everywhere should be made to have storm shelters.;)


In Training Down Under.
Wow Jim happy to hear your ok (sort of MEEEOOOOWWWW;) )

Hope all is well with the rest of your town.



In Training Down Under.
Oh yeah meant to add.......

some news........

from over here.........


We're finding the garage/driveway a bit small. we've been looking at sections to build and new houses with three car garages and business's with apartments out the back, and old houses to fix up.

Very confusing times in the Mackay household.

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