CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF) Scientists are taking a second look at the events following those devastating tornados of April 27th, 2011.
Photos and momentos that were snatched up and carried sometimes a hundred miles, are giving researchers a close look at how that phenomenon could endanger the public.
None of us will ever forget these scenes from April 27th of 2011.
Death and destruction on a wide scale was left by these tornado funnels through Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.
Most of them carried a debris field, millions pieces of dirt, grass, limbs, building materials and personal possessions. Mitzi Hurst Lewis of Trenton was amazed at how far things were carried.
MITZI HURST LEWIS, TRENTON "These are all pictures that have been returned to me that people have found all over Trenton, Decatur, Birchwood." "And now Knoxville."
A few days after her home was destroyed, East Tennessee residents began contacting Mitzi, and sending her possessions back.
Re-living that experience, Mitzi still marvels at it today.
JOHN KNOX, UGA RESEARCHER "I call this one the cell from hell."
University of Georgia meterologist and researcher John Knox thinks studying those debris fields can yield valuable information.
JOHN KNOX, UGA PROFESSOR "How does an object go over 200 miles in a tornado?"
That's a question Knox wants to answer.
He used facebook pages to locate people and information for the study.
The co-author of the study is Allan Black.
ALLEN BLACK, UGA RESEARCHER " We never knew how far objects could go...again we set a new record."
Knox and Black are adding Mitzi to their database.
They feel their work could aid public safety by predicting where tornado-borne toxic..or even radioactive debris may land.
JOHN KNOX "We've estimated that it will take maybe 5 or 6 minutes for that object to get up to maybe 20-thousand feet or more."
He says from there it could even enter the jet stream.
MITZI HURST LEWIS "Those pictures are memories...."
And they are also valuable for scientific research.