Tornadoes in the Past

On this page, we list the killer tornadoes during 1999. 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

Jan 2, 1999 12:40 AM CST F2
One person was killed in a mobile home in Buna, Texas.
Doppler radar of the storm--click to animate.

Jan 17, 1999 6:25 PM F
In the first outbreak of the year, 8 people were killed by tornadoes in Tennessee during the evening. Tornadoes were spotted in 12 counties, but straight-line winds as high as 100 mph affected 16 more counties. About 100 people were injured. Six deaths occurred in Madison County, most at Jackson, where 60 buildings were destroyed or damaged. Jackson, a town of about 49,000 , is located 125 miles west of Nashville. Several deaths occurred when a parked school bus was blown into a home, killing a woman and her daughter, and injuring her son. More than 50 school buses in the system's 123-bus fleet were damaged when cotton trailers hit the bus barn.

Jan 17, 1999 7:00 PM F
In Lexington, east of Jackson, in Henderson County, Tennessee, a woman was killed as 30 homes were damaged or destroyed. Another death occurred in Hardeman County. About 1000 homes were damaged over the track of the path. Tornadoes were also reported in Missouri, Kentucky, and Arkansas. You can read all about it here at theUSA Today site

Doppler radar of the storm--click to animate.
While an extremely high percentage of tornadoes occur in "watch boxes," that is, within areas that were expected to have severe weather and with good television or radio coverage of severe weather, this is not always enough to prevent deaths. Sometimes other factors come into play. In this situation, one of the factors was the failure of 8 of the 20 sirens in Jackson. When an area hasn't been struck by a tornado in many years, communities may lapse into complacency, and put off repair or replacement of sirens. City officials, feeling the pressure of tight budgets and knowing they are constantly under the watchful eyes of the public, are put into the position of having to either gamble that the town will be lucky, or make tough and unpopular decisions about where to spend tax-payer money. The Jackson situation emphasizes the importance of taking responsibility for your own safety and the safety of your family. If you live in an area that has tornadoes, get a NOAA weather radio. Don't rely on, or expect that other people will be able to alert you to danger!

Jan 21-22, 1999
Numerous tornadoes battered Missouri, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, Illinois and Arkansas the afternoon and evening of Jan 21 and early morning hours of Jan 22. The town of Clarksville, Tennessee, in Montgomery County was devastated at 4:15 AM. There were no deaths, and only a dozen or less injuries. Remarkable, considering that more than two dozen buildings were demolished. The good people of north-central Arkansas suffered the second tornado outbreak in one week, however. As many as 30 tornadoes were believed to have struck the state. The town of Oil Trough was struck two times this week. Many areas also received punishing hail, "hen's egg,," "tennis ball," "baseball," "softball," "tea-cup," and "grapefruit" in size.

Jan 21, 1999 5:20 PM F2
The town of Center Hill in White County, Arkansas, was the site of the first death in this outbreak. A woman, who was a school board member, was killed in the destruction of her mobile home.
There is additional information about the storm at the USA Today site as well.
Doppler radar of the storm--click to animate.

Jan 21, 1999 6:47 PM F3
One of the Arkansas tornadoes began southwest of the city and tracked right through Little Rock. It passed near the state fairgrounds, through a residential area that included some of the city's oldest homes, and destroyed the Harvest Foods supermarket, but missed the heart of the downtown area. One of the 15 or so shoppers, a 67-year-old pharmacist, was fatally injured in the collapse of the market. One of the felled trees held the tree house built for Chelsea Clinton when her father, Bill Clinton, was the governor. There were about 45 injuries in the Little Rock area. There were 2 deaths from falling trees.

Jan 21, 1999 7:35 PM F3
The little town of Beebe, Arkansas, population 5000, received a major hit during the early morning hours. Many homes, businesses and at least one church were heavily damaged. The 2-month-old son of a firefighter was swept from his home and killed. An elderly woman was also killed there.

Jan 22, 1999 3:25 AM F3
A tornado that touched down 7 miles north of Camden, Tennessee(about 50 miles southwest of Clarksville), in Benton County, a woman was killed when she went outside to get her dogs during a storm.
Doppler radar of the storm--click to animate.

January outbreaks with killer tornadoes are rare, but not unknown. There have been a few others in Tennessee. They are as follows:

Jan 4, 1939 4 dead Silerton and Bargerton, Tennessee
Jan 14, 1932 10 dead Eaton, Tennessee
Jan 15, 1947 4 dead Pinson, Tennessee
Jan 29, 1947 1 dead Brownsville, Tennessee

Here is a list of January killer tornadoes that have killed 9 or more people

Jan 3, 1949 55 dead Warren, Arkansas
Jan 4, 1946 15 dead near Palestine, Texas
Jan 4, 1917 16 dead
(at Choctaw Baptist Mission School)
Vireton, Oklahoma
Jan 4, 1946 10 dead Nacogdoches,Texas
Jan 11, 1898 55 dead Fort Smith, Arkansas
Jan 11, 1918 10 dead Dothan, Alabama
Jan 12, 1932 9 dead Moundville, Alabama
Jan 12, 1890 11 dead Clinton, KY
Jan 22, 1904 36 dead Moundville, Alabama
Jan 22, 1957 10 dead Gans, Oklahoma
Jan 23, 1969 32 dead in and near Hazelhurst, Mississippi
Jan 24, 1964 10 dead Harpersville, Alabama

April 3, 1999 4:30 CST F4
Six people were killed, one person fatally injured, and as many as 100 badly injured when a tornado, described as being several hundred yards wide, ripped through northwest Louisiana at 4:30 PM, on the eve of Easter. The touchdown point was about 3 1/2 miles south of Benton, a town of about 2000 located 10 miles north of Shreveport. Its four mile long track went through Hay Meadow and one other mobile home park, piling the homes up two and three deep. It also passed through a camping area and two subdivisions, one of which was called Palmetto Park. It was reported that several horses were lifted and lofted across a four-lane highway, and dropped on the other side. Bossier Parish Sheriff Larry Deen described the scene as "a twisted mass of debris where people used to live." One resident described his home in this way: "Basically, I have half a house. The west side walls and roof are gone. My neighbor's camper is on top of my truck and his stove is in my living room."
Doppler radar of the storm--click to animate. Photographs of the storm from the Goes 8 satellite

April 8-9, 1999
During the night of April 8-9, dozens of touched down in the states of Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Ohio. Rich Thompson of the SPC reported that this was the second biggest rash of tornadoes of the year, after the Arkansas outbreak in January.

April 8, 1999 7:57 PM CST F1
A 43-year-old woman was killed when her mobile home collapsed in Cisco, Piatt County, Illinois. Her mother and two sons were injured. Several other trailers were also damaged, and there were several injuries

April 8, 1999 9:35 PM CST F1
This tornado destroyed 12 mobile homes in a trailer park in Ashland, Illinois, killing a 68-year-old woman. Ashland is about 20 miles west of Springfield, in Cass County.

April 9, 1999 3:15 AM CST F4
A week after the 25th anniversary of the Super Outbreak and the deadly Xenia, Ohio tornado, 7 people were killed in the Blue Ash-Montgomery area in an affluent suburban area northeast of Cincinnati. Two of the dead were in vehicles when the storm struck. One of the victims, a 40 year old man, was thrown from his car when the tornado lifted his car off I-71. Another vehicle, a pickup truck, was lifted in the air and dropped upside down onto an I-71 highway divider, but the driver survived. A second victim was killed on his way to work, traveling west on I-275. The tornado lifted his vehicle and dropped it on its roof. Two other deaths occurred when the tornado struck a Montgomery home in this early morning tornado. The bodies of the couple were found in the debris, 30-40 yards from where they had lain asleep. The damage was worst on Cornell Road at a residential area near Sycamore High School in Montgomery. Hundreds of trees there were downed or snapped, and homes totally devastated. "Trees, huge trees, looked like some large mower with a rotary blade went through and sheared them all off," said Montgomery Mayor Richard Tuten. About 900 homes sustained damage of some kind in the three counties of Hamilton, Clinton, and Warren. Of that number, about 200 were destroyed. You can see and read more about it in the Cincinnati newspapers.
Doppler radar of the storm

April 14, 1999 10:00 PM CST
Three dozen homes, 21 of which mobile homes, were damaged in a tornado that struck Soso, Mississippi during the night of April 14th. Soso is in Jones County. One 71-year-old man was killed in a mobile home and three other family members were injured.

April 15, 1999 7:15 CST
A tornado overturned and destroyed 4 trailer homes in the Chavis Mobile Home Park between Pembroke and Lumberton in Robeson County, North Carolina. A 36-year-old man was killed in one of them, and three other people suffered injuries. Many other trailers were damaged during the night as severe thunderstorms with high winds passed through several counties.

May 3, 1999
A violent storm system with 76 reported tornadoes raked central Oklahoma and the Wichita, KS areas, killing 44 people, at least 36 in Oklahoma and 5 more in Kansas. Warnings were put out well in advance, and television stations tracked the swift-moving storms continually.

May 3, 1999
On May 3, 1999, 44 of the 77 counties in Oklahoma were under a tornado watch. National Weather Service offices began issuing radar-indicated warnings early. 174 warnings were sent out in all. Television stations KFOR and KWTV continually tracked the forming tornadoes from their inception, receiving reports from storm chasers and spotters on the road. Emergency preparedness personnel sent out spotters and sounded sirens, and police drove up and down streets warnings residents of the advent of the tornado. Oklahoma was ready, and it was a good thing, because at least one F5 damaging tornado was about to plow through the metropolitan area of Oklahoma City.

The large storm system generated tornadoes that struck the entire central Oklahoma area. The first started around Fort Sill, from Lawton, on to Oklahoma City, into Lincoln County, and produced three to five tornadoes. A second was near Geary in Blaine County, to north and east of Dover in Kingfisher County. The third went near Minco,Yukon, and Piedmont. Another path developed in eastern Cleveland County, through Shawnee , into the south-central part of Lincoln County. Many of the tornadoes formed rapidly and dissipated just as rapidly. Storm chasers in the area saw as many as 14 tornadoes. Some of the paths were so close that surveyors found it difficult to determine what damage was caused by which tornado. Several tornadoes had "satellite vortices" and at least one had visible multiple vortices. A map showing the location of the tornadoes is here on the Norman, OK NWS site.
Doppler radar of the storm--click to animate. Photographs of the storm from the Goes 8 satellite

May 3, 1999 F5

The most intense tornado that evening reached F5 strength, and seemed to have a continuous path for several hours. This particular tornado began near Chickasha, about 45 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. At one point, Doppler radar indicated the wind speed of this tornado at over 300 mph. Bridge Creek and Moore were hardest hit. The tornado may have been up to a mile wide as it passed through the unincorporated bedroom community of Bridge Creek, 30 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. It damaged 3000 homes, injured 30 people, and killed 11 more, all residents of mobile homes. Then it struck Moore, destroying 836 buildings, and causing significant damage to 285 others. 815 homes and 240 apartments were affected. Seventy-five percent of Kelly Elementary School was demolished. Westmoore High School sustained heavy structural damage and lost its roof. Moore's technology center was a total loss. Moore Industrial Park, which received $225,000 damage in an October tornado, received another $2,000,000+ damage, not including damage to individual businesses. It also destroyed or damaged two churches. The tornado continued into the south part of Oklahoma City, and on to Del City and Midwest City. An Oklahoma RedHawks game was being played at the Bricktown ballpark, but the game was stopped at 6:50 pm. A short while later, both fans and employees(1000-2000 people) were asked to move to the first level of the ballpark, and a few minutes after that, all were moved into an underground area outside the locker rooms. At another public event, 500 parents, students, and other honorees attending an award ceremony at Midwest City High School, were evacuated to the field house hallways and locker rooms when they received word that the tornado was on the west of the city. Nearby Tinker Field was also in the path. Midwest City had 188 homes destroyed. A number of motels were deemed unsafe. During the passage of the tornado a rental truck was blown into the dining room of a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Entire neighborhoods were wiped out. An estimated 1,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in Oklahoma City alone.

Many residents took shelter in basements, closets, storm shelters, and bathrooms, as their homes were destroyed around them...andsurvived with only minor injuries or none at all. More than one family left their place of shelter to find the rest of their house gone. Many cattle, horses, and smaller family pets were killed, injured, or lost. The body of the gray horse was dropped onto a high school parking lot in Oklahoma City. Softball hail accompanied the storm in some areas. Hundreds of homes cannot be salvaged, but will be bulldozed into piles, and the debris trucked to another area. It has been estimated that there are approximately 220,000,000 cubic yards of debris, enough to fill 4,700,000 18-wheelers. However, with this kind of disaster, there are materials that cannot be safely disposed of by putting it in a landfill. For instance, gasoline and battery acid from the 10,000 mangled cars, trucks, and vans,which could leak into the groundwater.

The storms struck after rush hour, but some Oklahomans were still on the way home from work. As one of the articles reported "if you ever wondered why you should get out of the car when a tornado is approaching, you only need to look to Interstate 40 and Sooner Road - a horrific scene-rush hour transformed into an auto junk yard by the fierce winds. Dozens of cars and trucks weighing several tons - tossed like toys, leaving piles of mangled metal everywhere." Many of the injured were in cars. The tornado passed over several car dealerships during its track. Cars from the lots were lifted, flung, and piled up in heaps. Three people died because they sought shelter under an overpass girder...a dangerous but commonplace practice among motorists who mistakenly believe that it is safe there.

About 748 people were injured. Hundreds of people were treated at area hospitals. There were 12 dead from Bridge Creek, 5 dead from Del City, 3 dead from Midwest City, 3 dead from Moore, 10 dead from Oklahoma City, 1 dead from Marlow(en route to OKC, this was the overpass death in the Moore area) 1 dead from Anadarko(overpass death in Newcastle area). Severe weather continued throughout part of the following day. The preliminary estimate of the damage makes it the most damaging tornado outbreak in US history...$1.485 billion damage in insured losses, $995 million was in the Oklahoma City area.

Aerial photo of damage path    88387 Bytes
Aerial photo courtesy of the Oklahoma Department of Civil Emergency Management.

May 3, 1999 F2
A 40-year-old woman was killed in her mobile home in Shawnee. A tornado from the same storm system struck Stroud, OK, southwest of Tulsa. It wrecked the Tanger Outlet Mall, the town's largest employer, with some 350 workers. All 53 stores in the mall were destroyed or damaged to some degree.

May 3, 1999 7:35 CST
The same storm system that struck Oklahoma continued its northeastward movement and struck Kansas, killing 5. Hayesville, Kansas, in Sedgewick County, is a suburb of Wichita. The path was approximately ten miles long. Part of the town's business district was demolished, including a bank, real estate company, and a ten unit apartment complex. Several homes were also destroyed.

May 3, 1999 9:20 CST F2
A tornado from one cell moved into Dover,OK, killing a 46-year-old woman when two walls of her home collapsed. About one-third of the homes in Dover suffered, and 17 were destroyed. The tornado continued on to damage 12 to 15 houses northeast of Dover, and destroyed a house east of Hennessy.

Another tornado in the same cell struck Mulhall OK, a Logan County town of about 200 people. Every building in town was damaged or destroyed as the tornado moved northeast across town. The elementary school was destroyed, the grocery store was destroyed, two 50,000-bushel grain storage bins were blown down, the bank was unroofed and heavily damaged, and 3 churches were damaged. The town's 75-foot-high, 400,000-gallon water tank was blown down, damaging it and causing a cascade of water to push a nearby house twenty feet off its foundation.

May 4, 1999 2:15PM CST
A tornado struck 6 miles southeast of Talco, in Titus County, Texas. One person was killed near Bridge Chapel.

May 5, 1999
There were three deaths and about 50 injuries from a tornado that struck Linden, Tennessee, a town of about 1300 people, when intense thunderstorms struck the area. One of the dead was a 14-year-old girl,who was found in the rubble of her home. A man and his schoolteacher friend were killed in his home. Several tornadoes were sighted in the Memphis area. Tornadoes were also reported in Georgia.

May 16, 1999
Two people were killed in a tornado that struck 3 miles south of Logan, in the west-central area of Iowa. Sixteen other people were injured, as 6 homes were destroyed and others were damaged. The "elephant's trunk" shaped tornado changed into a 3/4 mile wide "wedge" in a matter of a few seconds. There may have been as many as three separate tornadoes generated by the storm system.
Doppler radar of the storm--click to animate.

June 1, 1999 4:35 CST
A tornado passed through two communites in the Fort Gibson Lake area, just north of Sequoyah State Park and 4 miles west of Hulbert, Cherokee County, in eastern Oklahoma. A woman was killed in her mobile home, and 6 more people were injured, one critically. About 30 homes were damaged or destroyed, some of which were in the Hickory Hills addition, and the park suffered extensive damage.

June 1, 1999 6:00 CST
One truckdriver was killed and 4 other people were injured at a truck stop on I-55 at Farmersville, 4 miles west-northwest of Raymond, in central Illinois. The trucker had pulled over to rest, and was asleep in his truck when the rig was blown over, crushing him. The truck was one of 5 that were blown over. Only one of the injured required hospitalization. This tornado was only one of a dozen or so that struck the Midwest that night, in Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Illinois.

June 4, 1999 6:45 PM MDT At least two of 4 reported tornadoes caused F2 damage on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation near Oglala, South Dakota. A 54-year-old man was killed and 40 other people were injured, several of which had to be hospitalized. A trailer, pizza parlor, campground building, and about 30 homes were destroyed or badly damaged. You will find more a map, damage photoes, and lots more information about this tornado at the Rapid City NWS's report on this tornado. Grapefruit and baseball hail accompanied the storm.

August 11, 1999 12.55 MDT
One person was killed and dozens were injured in a tornado that, incredibly, struck Salt Lake City, Utah, one of the least tornado-prone states in the USA! It is the first tornado death in recorded Utah history. During its 5 minutes on the ground, it damaged the Wyndam Hotel, several 10,000 square foot area tents that had been set up for a convention, the Delta Center(home of the Jazz), and numerous power poles, trees, and smaller buildings. Preliminary estimates suggest F2 intensity. The death occurred in one of the tents. You can see tornado and damage photos, a map, and other information at the Salt Lake City Tribune special segment on the tornado.

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