Walking the tornado line

Four years ago, in April 2011, a tornado roared through Alabama, unleashing winds of more than 200 miles per hour. It obliterated the towns of Hackleburg and Phil Campbell, levelled a Wrangler plant (sending pairs of jeans flying as far as 60 miles away), barely missed one of the nation’s largest nuclear power plants, and skirted the grounds of a state prison. The storm killed 72 people, making it not just Alabama’s deadliest tornado, but at the time the single deadliest tornado in the United States since the Udall, Kansas, twister of 1955. In spring last year, Justin Nobel set out to follow the path of the tornado and talk to those who had survived it. His wonderfully vivid report has just been published in the Oxford American magazine.

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