2012 Leap Day tornado outbreak
Damage to a gas station from an EF4 tornado in Harrisburg, Illinois
|Active as of||February 28–29, 2012|
|Tornadoes confirmed||42 confirmed|
|Maximum rated tornado1||EF4 tornado|
|Duration of tornado outbreak2||26 hours, 17 minutes|
|Damage||$475 million (estimated)|
1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale2Time from first tornado to last tornado
The 2012 Leap Day tornado outbreak was a tornado outbreak on February 28 and February 29, 2012. It caused severe damage in several regions especially in the Ohio Valley region. It also resulted in several tornadoes in the Central Plains, a rarity for the time of year. The most destructive tornado hit Harrisburg, Illinois, killing 8 people in one neighborhood. In total, 15 people died in the outbreak.
A severe weather system that started in Central Nebraska and Central Kansas brought straight-line winds, golfball-size hail, torrential rain, and significant tornadoes to Kansas's midsection. There was a small confirmed tornado touchdown near North Platte, Nebraska - the first tornado officially recorded in that state in the month of February since record keeping began in 1950. Late on February 28, a strong EF2 tornado struck the small town of Harveyville, Kansas near Topeka, killing one person and injuring 11 others. The town's only church was completely destroyed, several homes received moderate to severe damage, and every building in the small community received a form of damage. Other tornado touchdowns were reported near Hutchinson, Kansas earlier in the day. As the storms moved into Missouri and Arkansas overnight, the threat grew stronger. At 3:00 am CST on February 29, Branson, Missouri was reporting severe damage to the town from an EF2 tornado, with homes destroyed and several houses sustaining severe damage as the storms rocketed along the Missouri/Arkansas border at more than 60 mph (95 km/h). Numerous people were injured there. Three other deaths occurred in southern Missouri due to strong tornadoes, one of which was an EF3.
The storms continued to grow stronger as they progressed eastward, and they impacted Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio on February 29. A moderate risk of severe weather was issued, with strong tornadoes mentioned as possible. An EF4 tornado slammed into Harrisburg, Illinois early that morning. The southern part of the city was heavily damaged with houses and businesses destroyed, many of which were completely leveled. Eight people were killed by that tornado. The storm went on to produce two EF1s in the Evansville, Indiana area. Other severe damage, due to two tornadoes, was reported in Middle Tennessee east of Nashville that afternoon, where three people were killed. This was only the second significant tornado outbreak to occur on February 29 since records have been kept in 1950, the other outbreak on Leap Day was back in 1952. The Harrisburg, Illinois tornado is only the second F/EF4 tornado to strike on Leap Day ever, the other was in 1952 when a F4 went through Fayetteville, Tennessee.
February 28 event
|List of reported tornadoes - Tuesday, February 28, 2012|
|EF0||NE of North Platte||Lincoln, Logan||2213||3 miles (4.8 km)||Tornado was reported by an off-duty NWS employee and remained over open fields with little to no damage. This was the first tornado to be reported in Nebraska in February since records began in 1950.|
|EF0||W of Greeley||Greeley||0100||Unknown||Very brief tornado in a field flipped and destroyed an irrigation pivot.|
|EF0||SE of Randall||Jewell, Cloud||2328||4.8 miles (7.7 km)||Tornado struck a farm, damaging trees and tearing off the metal roof of an outbuilding. A metal building was destroyed. A barn sustained roof damage and water tanks were thrown. Cars were damaged by flying debris.|
|EF0||Belleville area||Republic||0005||6.1 miles (9.8 km)||A few houses and outbuildings suffered minor damage. Many trees were downed as well.|
|EF0||SSW of Hutchinson||Reno||0043||1.2 miles (1.9 km)||Tornado destroyed a barn, downed a fence, and overturned a truck. A few trees were downed.|
|EF0||S of Hutchinson||Reno||0047||0.75 miles (1.21 km)||Second touchdown of the previous tornado caused no damage.|
|EF0||SE of Moundridge||McPherson||0117||2.3 miles (3.7 km)||Several trees, power lines, and highway signs were downed.|
|EF2||Harveyville area||Wabaunsee||0302||5 miles (8.0 km)||1 death – Numerous homes were badly damaged and vehicles were flipped. Approximately half of the structures in the town were damaged significantly, including a church and an apartment complex. Aside from the 1 fatality, 3 people were taken to hospitals and released and eight others were treated for minor injuries. The tornado formed and disappeared so quickly, within three to five minutes, that no tornado warnings were issued.|
|EF1||S of Globe||Franklin, Douglas||0406||3.5 miles (5.6 km)||Tornado uprooted trees and destroyed several barns. An RV and a trailer were overturned, and a mobile home was damaged.|
|EF1||WNW of Nashville||Barton||0452||16 miles (26 km)||Several barns were damaged and numerous trees were snapped or uprooted.|
|EF1||NNW of Greenfield||Dade, Polk||0526||18.6 miles (29.9 km)||Tornado damaged or destroyed ten barns.|
|EF2||SSE of Halfway||Polk, Dallas||0558||10 miles (16 km)||1 death – Tornado caused extensive damage near Buffalo. A mobile home park was destroyed and power poles were snapped. Other permanent homes were damaged or destroyed as well. Three turkey barns were also destroyed. One person was killed and 12 others were injured.|
|Sources: SPC Storm Reports for 02/28/12, NWS North Platte, NWS Hastings, NE, NWS Topeka, NWS Wichita, NWS Springfield, MO, NCDC Storm Events Database|
February 29 event
|List of reported tornadoes - Wednesday, February 29, 2012|
|EF1||NW of Phillipsburg||Laclede||0618||11 miles (18 km)||Tornado damaged multiple homes and downed numerous trees. One person was injured.|
|EF1||SE of Bennett Spring||Laclede||0622||0.25 miles (0.40 km)||Tornado struck a campground, damaging or destroying at least 20 RV's. An antique shop was damaged as well.|
|EF2||WNW of Cassville||Barry||0642||1.7 miles (2.7 km)||1 death – Four mobile homes and 1 framed home were destroyed on the northwest side of Cassville. Another framed home was significantly damaged. A tractor trailer rig was flipped on Highway 37. Aside from the 1 fatality, there were 4 injuries.|
|EF1||NW of Edgar Springs||Phelps, Dent||0706||19 miles (31 km)||One home was severely damaged and numerous trees were snapped or uprooted.|
|EF2||Branson area||Stone, Taney||0713||22 miles (35 km)||Long track tornado caused extensive damage in Branson, including many homes, hotels, and businesses destroyed. At least 32 people were injured in the town. The tornado followed a path from Kimberling City, Missouri on Table Rock Lake moving along Missouri Route 76 through the entertainment strip before hitting the downtown area where it blew out or cracked windows in 219 of the hotel rooms in the 12-story/295 room Hilton Branson Convention Center, and caused major damage to many structures. The tornado extensively damaged three of Branson's 50 plus theatres – (Americana Theater, Branson Variety Theater and Dick Clarks' American Bandstand Theater). Severe damage occurred at the Branson Landing on Lake Taneycomo and the Veterans Memorial Museum as well. An apartment complex and several hotels was also badly damaged. Vehicles at the Ride the Ducks water/land attraction were flipped over, but officials said they were not damaged enough to be put out of service. Several hotels in the area lost their roofs or were badly damaged.|
|EF2||N of Marquand to ESE of Sedgewickville||Madison, Bollinger||0910||20.75 miles (33.39 km)||One home was destroyed and several others had roof damage. At least 10 barns were damaged or destroyed and many trees were snapped or uprooted.|
|EF2||ENE of Mayfield||Bollinger, Cape Girardeau||0934||7.65 miles (12.31 km)||Many trees were downed and several structures, including three homes, suffered roof, window, and siding damage. A garage was lifted and tossed about 100 yards (91 m).|
|EF2||Oak Ridge to S of Carbondale, IL||Cape Girardeau, Union (IL), Jackson (IL)||0947||32 miles (51 km)||Thousands of trees were snapped or uprooted. Several houses were damaged, primarily partial roof loss. Numerous barns and grain bins were destroyed, along with many downed power lines. One person was injured. Was likely a multiple vortex tornado.|
|EF3||Asherville area||Stoddard||1000||21 miles (34 km)||1 death – Over 50 structures (mostly mobile homes, barns, and outbuildings) were damaged, with almost half completely destroyed. Two site-built homes were seriously damaged, one of which was completely destroyed.|
|EF1||E of Bell City||Stoddard, Scott||1024||17.5 miles (28.2 km)||Grain bins and silos were destroyed and barns were damaged. Homes sustained roof and siding damage. Irrigation pivots were overturned and chicken houses were destroyed as well.|
|EF2||SW of Marion||Williamson||1028||14.5 miles (23.3 km)||A large metal warehouse building was heavily damaged. Numerous homes had mainly minor roof damage. Hundreds of trees were snapped or uprooted and many power lines were downed. Several barns and outbuildings were destroyed or heavily damaged.|
|EF4||Harrisburg area||Saline, Gallatin||1051||26.5 miles (42.6 km)||8 deaths – See section on this tornado|
|EF2||Mounds area||Pulaski (IL), Ballard (KY), McCracken (KY), Massac (IL)||1100||26.5 miles (42.6 km)||Tornado crossed the Ohio River twice along the Illinois-Kentucky line. Four mobile homes were destroyed, many houses were damaged and barns and chicken houses were destroyed. Hundreds of trees were uprooted or snapped along the path and tractor trailers were flipped by the tornado. Four people were injured, one seriously.|
|EF1||Henderson||Henderson||1157||1 mile (1.6 km)||Four cabins were destroyed and seven telephone poles were downed.|
|EF0||NE of Madisonville||Hopkins||1240||0.5 miles (0.80 km)||Brief tornado with no damage.|
|EF1||Greenville (1st tornado)||Muhlenberg||1445||700 feet (210 m)||Brief tornado damaged an apartment building and several houses in southwestern Greenville.|
|EF2||Greenville (2nd tornado)||Muhlenberg||1445||5.4 miles (8.7 km)||A mobile home was destroyed and thrown, injuring its occupant. Muhlenberg South Middle School was also damaged, as were several houses.|
|EF2||E of Clarkson||Grayson||1542||2 miles (3.2 km)||Several brick houses and a business were damaged and three mobile homes were destroyed. One person was injured.|
|EF2||S of Elizabethtown||Hardin||1555||5 miles (8.0 km)||Several homes were significantly damaged. The Harry Owen trucking company was destroyed, leaving roof trusses buckled and throwing significant debris into a nearby mobile home park. A working garage was destroyed, and a barn was damaged. Many fences were knocked down. Many trees were either uprooted, twisted, or knocked down.|
|EF2||W of Hodgenville||LaRue||1605||1.7 miles (2.7 km)||Two separate tornado touchdowns were surveyed, with a combined path length of 1.7 miles. Many roofs were damaged, with the heaviest being at a day care center. Several homes were significantly damaged. Two cars were re-arranged, with one on top of the other in a parking lot. Many power lines were knocked down, and many trees were twisted, snapped, and / or uprooted.|
|EF2||Hodgenville||LaRue||1612||0.9 miles (1.4 km)||A large working garage and two homes were damaged, including a newly constructed home that was almost finished. A dumpster full of old building material was thrown 75 yards and snapped one telephone pole.|
|EF2||Grassy Creek area||Morgan||1842||6 miles (9.7 km)||Multiple homes and mobile homes badly damaged. Barns and outbuildings were also damaged or destroyed. A billboard was blown over and a Woodman of the World lodge was destroyed.|
|EF1||SE of Center||Metcalfe||1847||1.1 miles (1.8 km)||Three to four barns were damaged and numerous trees were snapped.|
|EF2||N of Russell Springs||Russell, Casey||1922||7.2 miles (11.6 km)||Two mobile homes were totally destroyed, and a modular home was rotated 30–80 feet counterclockwise off its foundation (with a quarter of the home blown away). Trees, barns, and outbuildings were damaged.|
|EF1||ENE of Science Hill||Pulaski||1953||1.5 miles (2.4 km)||One barn was destroyed and several others suffered major damage. The top of a silo was taken down and several homes suffered major roof damage.|
|EF1||Newburgh||Warrick||1203||2 miles (3.2 km)||Trees and telephone poles were knocked down. Many homes and two businesses suffered roof damage, with two homes completely losing their roofs. A garage was completely destroyed.|
|EF1||NE of Smithville||DeKalb, White||2147||13 miles (21 km)||1 death – A home on stilts was blown over and destroyed on the west side of Center Hill Lake, resulting in one fatality. Other homes sustained roof damage. Dozens of trees were snapped or uprooted. Outbuildings and mobile homes were damaged as well. A warehouse structure was also damaged and a steeple was blown off of a church. Some trees were blown over onto structures.|
|EF0||NNW of Sparta||White||2202||1.8 miles (2.9 km)||A home and barn suffered roof damage on Linville Road, and several trees were snapped or uprooted along the path.|
|EF2||NNW of Crossville||Cumberland||2230||5.1 miles (8.2 km)||2 deaths –Severe damage in the Rinnie community where a poorly built brick home and a double wide mobile home were completely destroyed. Another home lost its entire roof. Other homes sustained severe roof and siding damage. A tractor-trailer was blown over. More than 1,000 trees were uprooted or snapped. Aside from the 2 fatalities, there were 8 injuries.|
|EF0||NE of Greenback||Blount||0030||0.75 miles (1.21 km)||Damage was limited mainly to trees, as well as a light awning that was dislodged from the front of a house.|
|Sources: SPC Storm Reports for 02/28/12, SPC Storm Reports for 02/29/12, NWS Springfield, MO, NWS St. Louis, NWS Paducah, KY, NWS Louisville, NWS Jackson, KY, NWS Nashville, NWS Morristown, TN|
An EF-4 tornado slammed into Harrisburg, Illinois early on the morning of 29 February 2012. The tornado touched down just north of Carrier Mills at 4:51 a.m., damaged a church and damaged homes along Town Park Road and then traveled ENE towards Harrisburg just north of Ledford and then through Liberty where it caused very minor damage to the Harrisburg Middle School. The tornado then entered the south-western edge of the city at 4:56 a.m., specifically the Dorrisville neighborhood, where it caused significant property damage, and then east to Gaskins City neighborhood where several homes were destroyed; 7 people were confirmed dead in that area, most killed in the Brady Street apartment complex where several small, one-story apartment buildings were swept away. 110 people were injured overall. On June 3 another victim died in the hospital from their injuries raising the death toll to 8. Harrisburg Medical Center was also damaged in Gaskins City. Peak winds were estimated to have been about 180 mph and the width of the tornado path was 275 yards (251 m), traveling 26.5 miles (42.6 km). In Harrisburg over 200 homes and about 25 businesses were destroyed or damaged heavily. At least 10 homes and other buildings were leveled completely and several structures were swept from their foundations. Early estimates indicated nearly 40% of the city was damaged or destroyed. The following night a mandatory curfew was in place in the effected area's, 5PM Wednesday afternoon through 7AM Thursday morning. Counting damage and death toll it was reported to be the worst storm since the Joplin, MO tornado. Harrisburg Unit 3 schools were closed until 5 March 2012 and upon reopening offered trauma counseling to its students.
Westboro Baptist Church commented on the event, which prompted locals to create a "Shield of support" around the funeral processions with thousands attending, standing in large groups around the city. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and IEMA began doing preliminary damage assessments on 5 March 2012 to determine the need for public assistance from FEMA. The storm damage in Harrisburg dominated national airwaves for several days with both Anderson Cooper, and Diane Sawyer doing special reports. Both the New York Times and Chicago Tribune wrote articles on the resilient history and nature of Harrisburg in the wake of the tornado and floods that have hit the city since its founding in 1889. The tornado moved eastward before striking the town of Ridgway, where additional severe damage occurred. In Ridgway, the tornado damaged about 140 homes and businesses, causing 1 critical injury and 12 minor injuries. Numerous cars were tossed around, mainly on the east side of Ridgway. A large church building and a half dozen grain bins were completely destroyed. Final assessment rated the tornado as an EF4 with wind gusts estimated at 180 miles per hour (290 km/h).
- Jeff Masters (April 9, 2012). "First U.S. billion-dollar disaster of 2012: March 2-3 tornado outbreak". Weather Underground. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
- "Harveyville Tornado Claims 1 Life". Retrieved 1 March 2012.
- "Six now reported dead in southern Illinois tornado | News | Southern Illinois News". Southernillinois.14wfie.com. 2012-02-29. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
- "13 killed as tornadoes rake Midwest states". NBC News. February 29, 2012. Retrieved February 29, 2012.
- Bradfield, Robert (June 2, 2012). "Family reflects on life of 8th person killed from Harrisburg tornado". Harrisburg, Illinois. WPSD-TV, LLC. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
- "Harveyville, Kan., had no warning before tornado made direct hit". March 1, 2012. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
- Ashley (2011-12-30). "Branson, Missouri Travel Guide: Branson Takes Hit from Major Storm; Many Businesses Unaffected". Travelguide.reservebranson.com. Retrieved 2012-02-29.
- "Nixon touring storm-damaged areas by Branson, Cassville | Springfield News-Leader". News-Leader.com. Retrieved 2012-02-29.
- "EF-2 Tornado Confirmed; Debris Cleanup Begins in Stone, Taney Counties". Ozarksfirst.com. Retrieved 2012-02-29.
- Stevens, Sharon (March 1, 2012). "Harrisburg Middle School suffered tornado damage". St. Louis, Missouri. KSDK News. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
- "Storm toll in Illinois lowered to 6 dead from 10 - governor's office". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
- Davey, Monica (2012-03-01). "Southern Illinois Town Is All Too Versed in Taking a Hit". The New York Times.
- "Chicago Tribune article". Chicago Tribune.[dead link]