Tornadoes in the Past

On this page, we list the killer tornadoes during 2003. If you want to read descriptions of the killer tornadoes of 1995 on, you will find a link to them here.


The format of descriptions below list the date, time of day, and Fujita Scale Intensity Rating

February 22, 2003
At 3:13 PM, an F1 tornado touched down in the rugged rural hills of extreme western Breathitt County, Kentucky, near Athol. Two people were killed as five trailers were destroyed, and many damaged.

March 18-20, 2003
The first outbreak of 2003 produced scattered tornadoes from Texas to Georgia. The Texas tornadoes, on the 18th, were caught on film by several experienced storm chasers. In the early morning hours of the 20th(5:00 AM), the tornadoes turned deadly in Georgia. Six people were killed as a family of intense tornadoes swept across Mitchell and Worth counties in Georgia. More than 50 homes were destroyed at the south edge of Camilla, Mitchell County, with 4 people killed, and more than 100 injured. Some of those homes were also hit just three years ago by a tornado that killed 11 people at Camilla on February 14th, 2000. Two more died as they were thrown 200 yards with the debris of their mobile home, southwest of Sylvester, Worth County. Another death may have occurred in a mobile home near Tony, Madison County, Alabama.

March 27, 2003
A line of thunderstorms spawned about a half dozen small tornadoes in south Florida. One of them did about $13 million in F1 and F2 damage to homes in the Liberty City area north of Miami. One person was killed, and about a dozen others had minor injuries.

March 27, 2003
At 3:15 PM, what was probably an F1 tornado touched down briefly near Arvonia, Buckingham County, Virginia. One man was killed when his house was crushed by a large tree.

May 4, 2003
The late afternoon of Sunday, May 4, produced one of the deadliest outbreaks(37 deaths) in many years. Initial reports indicated as many as 80 tornadoes touched down in eight states, putting the outbreak in the top ten of all time. Many were wide, long-track tornadoes that were well- documented by stormchasers. West and north of Kansas City, one member of a damaging family of tornadoes caused a death in northern Wyandotte County, KS. In southeast Kansas and southwest Missouri, a swarm of large, intense tornadoes produceed three major damage track. Hundreds of homes, dozens of farms, and several entire towns were wiped out. The northern track began near McCune, Crawford County, KS, and moved northeast, killing three people before crossing into Barton County, Missouri, where one person was killed at Liberal. Three more people were killed as the town of Stockton, Cedar County, Missouri was virtually destroyed. The middle storm track caused three deaths near Columbus, Cherokee County, Kansas, and two deaths near Carl Junction, Missouri. The southern- most track began southwest of Pierce City, and devastated that small town, with three deaths in the area. Further to the east-northeast, death and destruction hit near Clever, Marionville, and Battlefield. The massive tornado mercifully spared the city of Springfield.
A map of the tornado tracks in the Kansas City area has been posted by the Kansas City/Pleasant Hill National Weather Service office and can be found here
Intense tornadoes occurred at night in western Tennessee. The deadliest tornado of the outbreak swept across Madison County, Tennessee, devastating the downtown area of Jackson. Eleven people were killed in the county, two at Jackson, and 9 in the town of Denmark, 12 miles southwest of Jackson. On January 17th, 1999, 6 people died in a tornado that swept across the southern edge of Jackson.

May 6, 2003
Just before midnight, several tornadoes touched down in southern Illiniois. One of them swept across Pulaski County, destroying 40 homes, and causing one death and about 40 injuries. A man died when the chimney of his house collapsed on him while he was protecting his young son. Between Mermet and Hilleman, Massick County, a 65-year-old woman was found dead in a ravine, 100 yards from the site of her trailer. Her car was thrown 200 feet. The wreckage of the trailer was wrapped around two tree trunks.

May 9, 2003
A record breaking week of tornadoes produced more destruction across central Oklahoma. On May 8th, the city of Moore was struck by a major tornado for the 4th time in 5 years. This one produced $100 million damage and more than 100 injuries, but no deaths. The next day, a night-time tornado family swept across the western and northern suburbs of Oklahoma City, hitting Bethany and Yukon, with a few injuries. At Warr Acres, an 80 year old man hit his head on a door jamb while running for shelter. The house wasn't hit, but he died in the hospital the following day. This event should not be counted as a killer tornado, but some lists may call it that. The man's father died in the Leedey, Oklahoma, tornado of May 31st, 1947.

May 11, 2003
At about 4:30 AM, and F2 tornado damaged or destroyed at least 40 homes west and northwest of Harrodsburg, Mercer County, Kentucky. One deaths and one injury were related to the destruction of a mobile home on the banks of a river. The injured woman was found near the shore. Another woman was found downstream after an 18 hour search. She had apparently drowned.

June 22, 2003
Sunday, June 22, was a remarkable weather day in southeast Nebraska. The most destructive of the tornadoes that hit the state wiped out the small town of Deshler, Thayer County, at about 10 PM. Thirty-two businesses, virtually all of the downtown, were either damaged or were more than 100 homes. A 47-year-old man was killed in the collapse of his garage workshop. Also this day, some of the largest hail ever to fall in the United States, was recorded 40 miles northwest of Deshler, at Aurora. Hailstones up to 6 1/2 inches in diameter were preserved to see if they were true record breakers. Neighboring counties had up to 12 inches of rain.

June 23, 2003
The tornado outbreak across the northern Plains continued with the destruction of 11 farms across Cedar County, Nebraska. On one farm, a 70-year-old man died in his machine shed. The area around the shed was littered with 20 dead cattle, carried hundreds of yards from a neighboring farm. The tornado passed at "tree-top level" over the northwest corner of Coleridge, sparing a nursing home. A tornado warning was issued for the town at 9:09 PM, and a funnel was first spotted at 9:43 PM.

The most significant tornado story in early 2003 originated in the central African country of Congo. World news organizations proclaim that a tornado killed 164 people and injured 1700 others in Bandundu Province at 11 PM, Sunday evening, February 2nd. One report suggested that the path length was about 100 miles.

It is very unlikely that this event was a true tornado. There may never be enough wind shear and instability to produce a long track tornado near the equator. The Congo Health Ministry used the word tornado. However, locally, the word tornado means " violent squall that blows out of the front of a thunderstorm".

In the opinion of many US tornado experts, the event was probably a wet microbust that uprooted hundreds of shallow rooted tropical forest trees. These trees would have then crushed the frail homes of Congo residents.

The book "The Tornado--Nature's Ultimate Windstorm" has an entire chapter on tornadoes outside the United States. Meteorologist Jon Finch has done extensive studies of tornadoes in Bangladesh. His web site is here.

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