In the Path of the Storm-Coaling

This home in western Alabama was completely blown off its foundation by a tornado that came through the area around 5:30 a.m. on April 27. Remarkably, the family inside the home was swept away from the building, though no one was seriously injured.

A length of sill plate was the only piece of the exterior walls that remained on the slab; the sills had been attached with rectangular cut nails.

A nearby home lost all its exterior walls.

Its sill plates had been fastened with spiral shank nails 24 to 48 inches on-center.

A spiral shank nail.

Another home in the same neighborhood lost its garage door and had its front garage wall pushed in — apparently by wind pressure, as there was no sign of impact. Gable-end failures occurred on the front and right side of the house.

The home's masonry safe room, at the front center, was undamaged, and may have helped strengthen the home against the tornado's forces.

Seen here is the back right corner, where the gable roof over the children's bedrooms was lost. Like most of the homes in the neighborhood, this one was fully sheathed with OSB; pink housewrap and vinyl siding covered the sheathing.

A closeup shows a typical truss-to-top-plate connection; the four toenails, placed in opposing pairs, caused the bottom chord to split.

The gable end was stripped from this home.

The bottom chord of the gable truss had been attached to the plate below with 16-penny toenails more than 2 feet on-center.

The roof sheathing was secured with nails every 48 inches and staples every 12 inches between the nails.

Though heavily damaged, this house may have fared better than nearby homes because it has a hip roof, which is better than a gable roof at resisting high winds. The wall seen here was knocked in by an impact that occurred between the two windows in the middle of the photo. Though the wall was sheathed with OSB — which helped hold the framing together — the connection at the top plate failed.

Another view of the same home shows missing sheathing on one section of the roof, probably related to loss of the lightweight vinyl soffit directly below.

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