AS IT HAPPENED: WDHN tracks tornado, alerts public before twister touches down

DOTHAN, Ala (WDHN) — Early Friday morning, the First Alert Storm Team– meteorologists Jordan Ambrose, Bryan Boggiano, and Chief Meteorologist Chad Crilley– were live on the air, tracking storms. At 3:56 a.m, our team spotted rotation forming and alerted the public; moments later the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Houston County.

Earlier, by 2 a.m., our meteorologists were live on Facebook and, monitoring severe thunderstorms moving into the wiregrass. The area had been under a level three risk from the Storm Prediction Center, with the posssibility that tornadoes could form. After many hours of reporting the fast-changing weather, our team spotted rotation moving out of Dale County and into Houston county.

The weather team immediately alerted people in Western Houston County, including Rehobeth, Dothan, and Cottonwood, that if these rotations were to continue to increase, a dangerous tornado could form in their area at any moment. In that event, it would be crucial that residents immediately move to shelter.

At 3:56 a.m., WDHN Chief Meteorologist Chad Crilley spotted rotation forming at the line between Dothan and Rehobeth. Watch as Jordan and Chad find a tornado in the video below. The National Weather Service issued its warning for much of Houston County and extreme southwestern Early County moments later.

(Editor’s Note: After many hours of wall-to-wall coverage, there were some audio dropouts. However, you can still hear Chad alerting Jordan to the developing tornado, which the team then correctly identify together as a serious threat.)

Though it had not yet been confirmed by the National Weather Service, our meteorologists, studying the radar, noticed the possibility of debris being lifted into the air, suggesting that a tornado was doing damage in that area.

RELATED: Severe weather brings damage to Cottonwood for second time this year

The First Alert Storm Team at WDHN announced at 4:06 AM that there was a tornado bringing damage to Cottonwood, giving residents ample time to move to shelter.

The National Weather Service confirmed the tornado, indicated in the video above by the purple polygon, that our team had spotted, was on the ground between Cottonwood and Ashford, noting the same uptick in debris the WDHN weather team had.

PHOTOS: Damage reports across the Wiregrass

The storm eventually lifted and weakened by 4:30 AM, which is when the weather team began giving the all-clear to some communities, and reporting on damage and injuries.

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