NWS: Finley Ave. tornado too weak to show up on radar

NWS: Finley Ave. tornado too weak to show up on radar

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Several homes on the block sustained roof damage. Source: Karen Church Several homes on the block sustained roof damage. Source: Karen Church
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

The drop in temperature Monday night is a double whammy for some in Birmingham. Residents in the Finley Avenue area are dealing with damage from an EF-1 tornado that caught many by surprise.

There was no watch or warning issued when the tornado hit around 4:40 a.m. Several homes suffered roof damage.

SLIDESHOW: Storm damage photos from Finley Boulevard area

Many never heard it coming, including Mary Copeland. She says she was just waking up when the storm hit.

"All of a sudden, we were sitting there and heard something - boom! Well I still didn't realize it was a tornado until something hit the window and we jumped up," she said.

But by then it was all over.

Jim Stefkovich with the National Weather Service explains why no warning was issued.

"It actually looked like a very weak circulation and it was just on for one quick volume scan, then gone," he said. "We want to be perfect but the weak tornadoes are always going to be the ones that are very difficult to detect and catch, and especially when this happened in between radar scans, there next to impossible to get all the time."

Copeland agrees the storm was quick.

"People say, 'Were you scared?' I didn't have time to be scared because I didn't hear nothing until the last minute. I just thank God nobody got hurt out of all of this. We are just lucky," she said.

FOX6 Meteorologist Wes Wyatt also looked into this tornado. He says that in essence the tornado didn't last long enough for radar to pick it up. Radar scans the atmosphere at different elevations, which is called a volume scan. Wes and the NWS believes that Monday morning's tornado spun up and was finished before a volume scan could complete and possible catch the activity.

Wes and the weather team was able to identify a debris pattern left by the tornado, which as Wes points out isn't useful for weather warnings but corroboration that a tornado did touch down.

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