Instead of Tornado Alley, Alabama has its own Dixie Alley for tornadoes in the north along the Tennessee River. The Gulf Coast experiences an average of 70 to 80 days a year with thunder. Alabama is also one of the few places in the world that has two tornado seasons: spring and November/December.
Of course, then there are those hurricanes that visit from time to time. From Hurricanes Zeta and Sally in 2020 to Tropical Storm Alberto in 2018, we’ve got storms and wind.
In this article, we’ll look specifically at average wind speed in our state, followed by thunderstorm wind speeds and their impact on your home.
Windiest Cities and Towns in Alabama: Average Wind Speed
We’ve consulted the average wind speed information at City-Data to find the top 20 cities in Alabama for the highest average wind speed. We’ve chosen only those cities with populations of 6,000 or more.
Windiest Cities and Towns in Alabama: Thunderstorm Winds
Average wind speeds are interesting. Thunderstorm winds probably add far too much action to the data.
We’ve reviewed NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information’s Storm Events Database. In the range of Nov. 1, 2019, to Nov. 30, 2020, they identified 67 locations affected by thunderstorm winds.
Here are the top 20 ranked by recorded wind speed. Note that duplicate listings of the same town or same thunderstorm at the same or lower wind speed have been omitted from our ranking.
|1||Gosport, Clarke County||87|
|2||Lakeview, Marshall County||78|
|3||Oakhill, Wilcox County||70|
|4||Loretto, Cullman County||70|
|5||Thorsby, Chilton County||70|
|6||Green Hill, Lauderdale County||66|
|7||Edwardsville, Cleburne County||65|
|8||Samantha, Tuscaloosa County||65|
|9||Taylors Ferry, Jefferson County||65|
|10||Winn, Clarke County||61|
|11||Spring Valley, Colbert County||61|
|12||Oak Ridge, Morgan County||61|
|13||Arkdell, Lauderdale County||61|
|14||Loper, Washington County||61|
|15||Green Hill, Lauderdale County||61|
|16||Brewton, Escambia County||61|
|17||Dauphin Island, Mobile County||61|
|18||Red Level, Covington County||61|
|19||Palos, Jefferson County||61|
|20||Russel Mills, Tallapoosa County||60|
The top-ranked thunderstorm wind in Gosport at 87 mph on Nov. 27, 2019, was rated as a large microburst that snapped or uprooted between 100 and 200 trees.
The second-ranked event in Lakeview at 78 mph on Jan. 11, 2020, snapped 15 wooden power poles along with trees and inflicted structural damage to homes and outbuildings. The National Weather Service identified three tornadoes associated with this storm, along with flooding as a result of significant rainfall.
Winds in Our Hometowns
We’ve looked a little bit closer into the locations in Alabama where we have offices.
Birmingham’s average winds are 7.1 mph. It’s located in Shelby and Jefferson Counties, which experienced 65-mph thunderstorm winds on April 12, 2020. That storm, which extended across a broad area, had tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding. Damage came from trees falling on homes, along with roof losses.
Mobile ranks near the top on average winds at 8.8 mph. Dauphin Island in Mobile County ranked at 17 on the thunderstorm wind list at 61 mph. That was from an April 9, 2020, thunderstorm.
Huntsville made the top 20 at 8 mph average winds. The peak wind was 54 mph at the Madison County Jetport on Dec. 16, 2019, as the result of a thunderstorm that produced at least six tornadoes.
Montgomery’s average winds are 6.6 mph. Its big thunderstorm wind was on Jan. 11, 2020, with recorded winds of 50 mph. Straight-line wind gusts were estimated at 75 to 80 mph. Damage included homes, automobiles, and outbuildings, as well as quite a few trees uprooted or snapped off.
Impact on Your Home from Winds and Storms
The National Weather Service has built a wind estimation scale designed to provide observers with a way to judge wind speed. Here are the details.
Strong winds on their own can do a great deal of damage to trees, utility lines, signs, outbuildings, and homes. Not only that, but the flying debris can cause further damage. You can tell that from the brief stories above.
We’re hopeful that high winds won’t damage your home’s foundation. Even so, rainwater driven by wind can find its way into your basement or crawl space if there are any cracks or if the water accumulates around your home.
We recommend that you consult the professionals at AFS Foundation and Waterproofing Specialists for a free inspection and repair estimate to identify any issues with your basement or crawl space that need attention in preparation for heavy winds and rainfall.