Tornado outbreak of November 9–11, 2002

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Tornado outbreak of November 9-11, 2002
Veterans Day Tornado Outbreak.JPG
Veterans Day Tornado Outbreak
Type Tornado outbreak
Duration November 9–11, 2002
Tornadoes confirmed 83 confirmed
Max rating1 F4 Van Wert Co., OH tornado
Duration of tornado outbreak2 ~36 hours, majority of the tornadoes occurred on November 10, 2002
Damage $160+ million
Areas affected Eastern United States (especially the Southeast and Ohio Valley.

1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale

2Time from first tornado to last tornado

The Tornado outbreak of November 9-11, 2002 was a large, widespread and rare outbreak of storms that occurred during the late afternoon hours on November 9 through the early morning hours on Veterans Day, November 11, 2002. The event is commonly referred to as the Veterans Day weekend tornado outbreak. Eighty-three tornadoes hit 17 states. Twelve tornadoes killed 36 people in five states. This ranks as the third largest outbreak ever recorded in November.

Autumn tornado season[edit]

The lower Ohio Valley and the South have two tornado seasons, one in the spring and a less intense and more sporadic one in autumn. The states in these regions are truly unique as they are the only places in the entire world with two distinct tornado seasons. During the autumn season, the upper atmospheric dynamics are once again more often conducive for major tornado outbreaks. Upper atmospheric temperatures cool down as the calendar shifts towards winter and jet stream winds increase, as does intensity of low pressure systems. Some of the most destructive severe weather events in USA history have occurred during the secondary season. Unfortunately, many people are not well aware of this secondary season as they are the spring season which can lead to a higher chance of people being caught off guard by severe weather. Many local national weather service offices in the south conduct storm spotter training sessions in the fall and even observe a fall severe weather awareness day in effort to draw more attention to this secondary peak.

Outbreak synopsis[edit]

The outbreak began in Arkansas in the late afternoon hours on Saturday, November 9, 2002. However, the brunt of the outbreak was on November 10. It began around 2 P.M. in Indiana and became widespread from Mississippi up through Ohio in the afternoon. Seventeen died in Tennessee, twelve in Alabama, five in Ohio, and one each in Pennsylvania and Mississippi.

The most notable and photogenic tornado of the outbreak was the one that occurred at Van Wert, Ohio. Van Wert has been hit before. The last time they were severely hit was during the 1920 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak. That tornado was an F4. During this tornado (which in this case was also an F4), a theater was destroyed at around 3:30 P.M. The walls and roof were damaged or destroyed by the tornado and three cars were thrown into the front seats which minutes earlier had been completely filled with people. This was the farthest north and east tornado that has occurred that late in the year. Notably, no one was killed at the packed theater because the manager received warning via Van Wert County Emergency Director Rick McCoy and evacuated everyone to the back theater. The lead time of this tornado was approximately 28 minutes. A tornado warning went out for Van Wert County at 3:02 P.M. This tornado outbreak was particularly noted because of the massive lead times on all the tornadoes, but there was a slight dispute because the northern tornadoes (such as Van Wert) occurred in severe thunderstorm watch boxes.

This outbreak was exceptional because of its extremely long duration, large area affects, and very large number of tornadoes and intense tornadoes. It is among one the most productive Fall tornado events in recorded history. The 2002 tornado season in perspective was extremely slow, the slowest the U.S. has seen since 1988. The year was due to have only one-quarter of the national average this year, but due to the sudden burst of tornado activity between November 5 and December 18, 2002 had one of the most active fall seasons in U.S. history.

Summary of the outbreak in Ohio[edit]

Van Wert, Ohio, tornado track map.

On November 10, 2002 tornadoes were reported in several counties of Ohio including Putnam County and Van Wert County. All schools in Van Wert County were cancelled on November 11 (including Van Wert City Schools, Crestview, and Lincolnview schools). Van Wert city schools were also closed on the twelfth and thirteenth. The schools were delayed on November 14 and 15th. The tornado reported in Van Wert County in 2002 was a violent F4 tornado with 4 fatalities. There were also reported tornadoes in Union County and Seneca County in Ohio. Both of these tornadoes were a severe F3s, and there was a fatality near Republic, Ohio. Overall, five people were killed because of these violent storms in Van Wert, Putnam, and Senaca Counties.

Governor Bob Taft declared a state of emergency for Van Wert County and Ottawa County because of the violent tornadoes that rocked northwest Ohio. The National Weather Service made sure the warnings were issued well in advance on November 10, 2002.

Tornado table[edit]

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
FU F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
0 20 34 20 8 1 0 83

November 9, 2002[edit]

F# Location County Time (CDT) Path length Damage
F2 W of Osceola to NE of Covington, TN Cross, AR, Crittenden, Mississippi, Tipton, TN 2115 50.6 miles (81 km) In Arkansas, 2 farm houses and a mobile home were destroyed while a church, five homes and three mobile homes were damaged. Several other farm buildings were damaged along with trees and power lines being blown down. In Tennessee, 28 mobile homes, 5 houses and one business were destroyed. Over 275 other structures were damaged and one injury was recorded. One man was injured by falling bricks in downtown Covington.
F2 NE of Bells Crockett 2215 4 miles (6.4 km) Six mobile homes and four houses were destroyed. Over 60 other structures were damaged as well.
F2 SW of Huntingdon Carroll 2226 10 miles (16 km) 2 deaths - The two fatalities were recorded in a mobile home park that was hit by a tornado. In addition to destroyed mobile homes, three houses, two businesses and a farm building were destroyed. 40 other structures were damaged.
F1 NW of Jackson Madison 0010 4 miles (6.4 km) Tornado hit a subdivision and several buildings of Union University were heavily damaged. One home was destroyed and 140 others damaged, as well as 500 cars around the campus area. The same area was hit by an EF4 tornado during the Super Tuesday Tornado Outbreak on February 5, 2008.
F0 E of Clarksville Montgomery 0050 0.1 mile (0.16 km) Damaged was limited to trees.
F1 S of Adams (1st tornado) Montgomery 0100 0.3 mile (0.5 km) 2 deaths - The fatalities were inside one of three mobile homes that were blown or lifted off of their foundations. 60 homes and one building were damaged as well.
F0 S of Adams (2nd tornado) Montgomery 0105 0.1 mile (0.16 km) Damage was limited to trees.
F2 Portland Sumner 0200 2.6 miles (4.2 km) Major damage occurred in Portland. 7 homes, one business and 7 mobile homes were destroyed. 18 outbuildings, 16 barns, 29 homes, eight mobile homes, two churches and one business suffered minor to major damage. Vehicles were tossed and damaged as well, including a truck that was rolled 90 feet. A building in an industrial park near Portland was also heavily damaged. 6 injuries were recorded.
F0 N of Jackson Cape Girardeau 2258 0.8 mile (1.3 km) A trailer was destroyed while one metal barn and a few homes sustained roof/shingle damage.
F1 SW of Scottsville Allen 0200 1.5 miles (2.4 km) One mobile home tumbled down a large hill, while additional minor structural damage was reported.
Sources:Storm Data, November 9, 2002

November 10, 2002 event[edit]

F# Location County Time (CDT) Path length Damage
F1 SW of Hartford Blackford 1330 5 miles (8 km) One home and two mobile homes were destroyed, while a supermarket and a motel were damaged. 3 people were injured.
F0 S of Bluffton Wells 1346 1 mile (1.6 km) Two outbuildings were damaged.
F3 NE of Berne Adams 1359 5 miles (8 km) Several well-built Amish homes and barns were severely damaged along the path. A mobile home was destroyed as well.
F0 N of De Soto Jackson 1332 9 miles (14.4 km) Minor shingle damage to a barn and trees were also damaged.
F0 W of West Frankfort Franklin 1341 0.5 mile (0.8 km) Damage was limited to trees.
F4 SW of Van Wert to SE of Napoleon Van Wert, Paulding, Putnam, Defiance, Henry 1415 52.8 miles (84.5 km) 4 deaths - Large wedge tornado struck the northwest side of Van Wert. In Van Wert County, 164 homes and 27 businesses were damaged, including 43 homes and 5 businesses that were destroyed. Several homes were either flattened or swept away, and cars were wrapped around trees. Several large metal industrial warehouses were flattened as well. Fatalities were from a thrown car and a destroyed home. A cinema in Van Wert was heavily damaged and three county engineer buildings were destroyed. In Paulding County, only one structure was left standing in the small community of Roselms. In Putnam County, a mobile home was thrown and destroyed, along with severe damage to several other homes. In Defiance County, five homes were damaged slightly while damage in Henry County was limited to outbuildings and trees. 17 others were injured by the tornado, all in Van Wert County. Tornado left distinct cycloidal marks in farm fields.
F3 E of Bellefontaine Logan, Union 1538 9 miles (14.4 km) In Logan County, two semi-trailers were damaged along with the roof of shed. In Union County, 4 houses were destroyed and 9 others were damaged. Several barns and vehicles were destroyed as well. A metal high-tension truss tower was toppled and two people were injured.
F1 W of Richwood Union 1551 0.5 mile (0.8 km) A barn and a house were damaged.
F1 Jerry City Wood 1554 4.5 miles (7.2 km) Three garages, one barn, and a city maintenance garage were destroyed in and around Jerry City. Nine homes were also damaged, including one home that was moved off of its foundation. Vehicles were destroyed and hundreds of trees were downed.
F2 Fostoria Hancock, Seneca 1557 9 miles (14.4 km) Eight homes were destroyed and many others severely damaged as the tornado began 1 mile southwest of the city and cut a path running in a northeasterly direction through Fostoria to a point about 5 miles northeast of town. One fertilizer plant southwest of town near the tornado's origination was completely destroyed. Two businesses were heavily damaged and several barns were either destroyed or damaged as well. Two railroad cars were derailed when they were blown over near the Tiffin St crossing on the west side of town, and a storage tank was also damaged. Also in Fostoria, the hospital sustained damage while at the airport, an administrative building and a hangar were damaged. Tornado left cycloidal marks in farm fields outside of town.
F0 Marion Marion 1610 0.1 mile (0.16 km) Damage was limited to trees.
F0 SE of Perrysburg Wood 1610 0.1 mile (0.16 km) Brief touchdown with no damage.
F3 SE of Tiffin to Fireside Seneca 1615 21 miles (33.6 km) 1 death - Strong tornado touched down near Tiffin and moved into the town, resulting in major damage, especially in the Honey Creek subdivision. 8 homes in Tiffin were destroyed, 5 were heavily damaged, and 25 others sustained lesser damage. A retirement community was also impacted and a business near State Route 231 was leveled. Near Republic, one person was killed when a house was swept off of its foundation, and other nearby houses were completely destroyed as well. Across Seneca County, a total of 32 homes and businesses were destroyed and nearly 80 others damaged by this tornado. Hundreds of trees and power lines were downed, and dozens vehicles were damaged or destroyed. Tornado left cycloidal marks in farm fields. 2 people were injured.
F1 NW of Millbury Wood 1619 0.5 mile (0.8 km) Five homes sustained roof damage.
F1 Fremont Sandusky 1620 3.5 miles (5.6 km) Several homes had minor to moderate damage, while a motor home and seven barns were destroyed. Several antique cars inside a barn were also destroyed. Many trees and power lines were downed as well.
F2 Port Clinton Ottawa 1630 10 miles (16 km) Major damage occurred throughout Port Clinton. 24 homes and 16 apartments were destroyed while 140 others structures were damaged, some of them very heavily. Two condominiums were blown off of their stilts into Lake Erie. The Port Clinton hospital and high school were also damaged, and hundreds of trees and power poles were downed. 10 people were injured.
F1 W of Norwalk to Milan Huron, Erie 1642 12.5 miles (12 km) A few barns were destroyed while a few homes also sustained damaged. The Lyme Township hall was heavily damaged as well, as its garage and several trucks and heavy equipment inside were destroyed. A high-voltage power pole was toppled, and many trees were downed as well.
F1 SW of Ontario Richland 1645 1 mile (1.6 km) A cinder block building was leveled and there was extensive damage to one home. Hand tools from the cinder block building were found impaled into a nearby car. Many trees were downed along the path.
F2 SW of Polk to NE of Homerville Ashland, Medina 1648 9.5 miles (15.2 km) 5 homes were destroyed along the path, and about 40 others were damaged as well, with additional damage to other structures. A couple of public buildings were damaged in Polk, and two homes in town were heavily damaged as well. A church outside of town lost its steeple, and a small boat left tethered in a pond was found a quarter-mile away. In Medina County, an auto shop and a barn were destroyed in Homerville. Several homes in town sustained minor to moderate damage, and many cars were damaged as well. Dozens of trees were also downed along the path, and 4 people were injured.
F2 SE of West Salem Wayne 1720 5 miles (8 km) Two homes were destroyed, and three others were severely damaged. Several other homes had minor damage, and outbuildings were destroyed. 20 power poles were snapped, many vehicles were damaged, and hundreds of trees were downed along the path.
F1 Massillon Stark 1727 3.3 miles (5.3 km) A tornado moved through downtown Massillon, causing roof and window damage to several businesses. A semi-truck and several large signs were blown over in this area as well. Many cars, including one with a board driven through its door, were damaged or destroyed by trees and flying debris in this same area. A total of 23 properties sustained either roof and siding damage or downed trees on List Street alone.
F2 Macedonia to Twinsburg to Solon Summit, Cuyahoga 1800 7 miles (11.3 km) Tornado touched down in Macedonia, where 60 homes were damaged, including two that were destroyed, and 15 others that were damaged enough to be declared uninhabitable. The tornado then caused major damage in Twinsburg, where 45 homes were damaged and a few were leveled in one subdivision alone. The tornado then clipped the south edge of Glenwillow, where a business lost its roof and a few homes were damaged. Past Glenwillow, the tornado struck Solon before dissipating, where many additional homes were damaged, and a middle school sustained $2 million in roof and structural damage. Multiple cars were damaged, and hundreds of trees and power poles were downed along the path.
F1 W of West Union Adams 1915 1.3 miles (2.1 km) One barn was destroyed while a church, three barns, and two homes were damaged.
F0 NW of Macon Bibb, Monroe 1621 0.8 mile (1.3 km) Minor shingle damage to homes, although some homes were damaged by falling trees.
F2 S of Adairsville Bartow 0035 12 miles (19.2 km) Seven chicken houses and a barn were destroyed, killing 7500 chickens. About 15 homes were damaged as well.
F2 W of Dawsonville Cherokee, Pickens, Dawson 0048 23 miles (36.8 km) 28 homes, two mobile homes, two businesses and several other structures were destroyed while over 150 other homes and two churches had varying levels of damage. Several livestock were killed and 13 people were injured, including three at a popular restaurant.
F0 N of Sunbright Morgan 1735 1.5 miles (2.4 km) Damage was limited to trees.
F1 SW of Huntsville Scott 1740 4.1 miles (6.6 km) Several homes were damaged.
F0 SE of Milan Carroll 1740 0.3 mile (0.5 km) Damage was limited to trees.
F1 N of Manchester (1st tornado) Coffee 1742 4.1 miles (6.6 km) Damage was limited to trees.
F2 E of Shelbyville Bedford, Coffee 1745 5 miles (8 km) 5 homes and a mobile home were destroyed and 6 homes were damaged. A TVA tower was also toppled and 3 injuries were recorded.
F1 SE of Huntsville Scott 1750 4.2 miles (6.7 km) 24 homes, six mobile homes, one modular home and one business were damaged. Three of the mobile homes were destroyed.
F0 N of Medon Madison 1755 0.3 miles (0.5 km) A barn was destroyed, and a mobile home and a tavern were damaged.
F2 N of Manchester (2nd tornado) Coffee 1852 12.3 miles (19.7 km) 2 deaths - Worst damage occurred in the New Union area, where a mobile home park was devastated. 24 homes and 9 mobile homes were destroyed, while 51 homes, 5 mobile homes and 14 outbuildings were damaged. Two tractor-trailers were blown off of I-24. One fatality occurred in a mobile home, and the other occurred in a frame home.
F1 S of Crab Orchard Cumberland 1908 3.4 miles (5.4 km) A tractor trailer was blown onto its side.
F3 NW of Oliver Springs Morgan 1931 8.3 miles (13.3 km) 7 deaths - The communities of Mossy Grove and Joyner were devastated. 63 homes were damaged, and 24 were destroyed. 18 mobile homes were damaged, and 12 others were destroyed as well. Severe tree damage occurred and vehicles were thrown. 28 people were injured
F2 S of Lake City Anderson 1954 5.5 miles (8.8 km) 32 homes were damaged, with 3 destroyed. 9 mobile homes were damaged as well.
F2 N of Spencer Van Buren 2010 2.9 miles (4.6 km) A frame house was destroyed.
F1 NW of Pikeville Bledsoe 2030 6.2 miles (9.9 km) Five homes were damaged.
F0 S of Crossville(1st tornado) Cumberland 2046 0.1 mile (0.16 km) Weak tornado with no damage.
F3 S of Crossville (2nd tornado) Cumberland 2143 12.2 miles (19.5 km) 4 deaths - 33 homes and mobile homes were destroyed, and 128 others were damaged. One public building was also damaged. Many trees were snapped and uprooted, and power lines were downed as well. All fatalities occurred inside mobile homes.
F3 N of Fayette to S of Arley Fayette, Walker, Winston 1852 44.3 miles (70.9 km) 4 deaths - Tornado struck Carbon Hill, resulting in severe damage. Carbon Hill Elementary and Carbon Hill Junior High School were heavily damaged, and many trees were downed along the path. Homes were completely leveled or swept away at Lewis Smith Lake, and three of the fatalities occurred in Rose Hill. Structures damaged or destroyed by this tornado were approximately 47 in Fayette County, 135 in Walker County, and 35 in Winston County. 38 people were injured.
F3 NE of Fayette to E of Cullman Fayette, Walker, Winston, Cullman 2015 72.6 miles (116.2 km) 7 deaths - Close to 500 structures were damaged or destroyed and hundreds of trees were downed by this long-track tornado. The worst damage occurred in the Saragossa community. Unanchored homes were swept away and vehicles were thrown and mangled. 40 people were injured.
F1 SE of Berry Fayette 2110 4.3 miles (6.9 km) A lumber mill and a mobile home were damaged. Numerous trees were downed as well.
F1 Dora Walker 2138 4.3 miles (6.9 km) Several structures in Dora were damaged, including roofs of homes.
F2 N of Abernant to Bessemer Tuscaloosa, Jefferson 2222 15.2 miles (24.3 km) Tornado struck North Johns and Sumter before dissipating in Bessemer. A manufacturing facility was heavily damaged. Several homes and businesses sustained varying degree of damage as well. A crane was toppled at a quarry in Bessemer.
F1 S of Allgood Blount, Etowah 2222 10.6 miles (17 km) Several structures were damaged. Two cows were killed by falling trees.
F1 N of Steele St. Clair 2241 3.2 miles (5.1 km) Three homes were damaged, along with a few outbuildings. Trees were downed as well
F2 SE of Centre Cherokee 2320 10.5 miles (16.8 km) 1 death - 88 homes were damaged or destroyed. Many trees were downed and outbuildings were destroyed. Fatality occurred in a mobile home. 4 people were injured.
F2 Clark Mercer 1854 7 miles (11.2 km) 1 death - Tornado touched down outside of Sharpsville and struck Clark. 15 homes were destroyed while 42 homes sustained minor to major damage. One business was destroyed, and another one was damaged.
F1 Cochranton Crawford 1930 1 mile (1.6 km) A barn and a cottage were destroyed, while three homes and a barn were damaged. Hundreds of trees were snapped.
F3 SE of Artesia to NW of Fernbank, AL Lowndes, MS, Lamar, AL 1908 29.2 miles (46.7 km) 60 homes were heavily damaged in Columbus, Mississippi, and several buildings at the Mississippi University for Women and the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science were heavily damaged as well. In Alabama, numerous tree were downed, a house was unroofed, headstones were damaged, and vehicles were flipped. 55 people were injured.
F1 N of Webster to NE of Stafford, AL Winston, MS, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, Lowndes, Pickens, AL 1920 49 miles (78.4 km) 1 death - Tornado passed near Crawford, Mississippi. Damage in Alabama was limited to trees, but several homes were destroyed in Mississippi.
F2 E of Pickens Attala, Leake 1930 10 miles (16 km) One home and a barn were damaged, and hundreds of trees were snapped and uprooted.
F1 N of New Hope Lowndes, MS, Pickens, AL 1936 9.5 miles (15.2 km) Damage in both states was limited to trees.
F1 S of Louisville Winston 2020 15 miles (24 km) Two mobile homes were destroyed while several homes and outbuildings were damaged. Numerous trees were snapped and uprooted.
F1 SE of Canton Madison 2034 2 miles (3.2 km) Damage was limited to trees.
F1 S of Columbia Marion 0050 4 miles (6.4 km) One mobile home was destroyed, while another mobile home and house were damaged.
F0 N of Liberty Casey 1930 0.1 mile (0.16 km) Damage was limited to trees.
F0 SE of Hustonville Lincoln 1945 0.1 mile (0.16 km) Damage was limited to trees.
F1 NW of Covington St. Tammany 0055 0.3 miles (0.5 km) Three homes and a few outbuildings were damaged.
Sources:Storm Data, November 10, 2002

November 11, 2002 event[edit]

F# Location County Time (CDT) Path length Damage
South Carolina
F0 S of Piedmont Anderson, Greenville 0422 6 miles (9.6 km) Damage was limited to trees.
F1 S of Simpsonville Greenville 0430 4 miles (6.4 km) One hotel sustained extensive damage to its roof, while outbuildings, a scoreboard, and fences were destroyed. Other structures sustained damage and 2 tractor trailers were blown over.
F0 NW of Troy McCormick 0445 9 miles (14.4 km) Damage was limited to trees, though 2 people were injured by a tree that crushed a vehicle.
F0 S of Willington McCormick 0520 5 miles (8 km) Damage to trees and power lines.
F1 W of Newberry Newberry 0542 1.5 mile (2.4 km) Damage to trees and power lines.
F1 N of Little Mountain Newberry 0635 1.2 mile (1.9 km) A few homes sustained minor damage and a shed was blown down.
F0 NW of Lincolnton Lincoln 0515 1 mile (1.6 km) Damage was limited to trees.
Sources:Storm Data for November 11, 2002

See also[edit]

Outbreak death toll
State Total County County
Alabama 12 Cherokee 1
Walker 10
Winston 1
Mississippi 1 Lowndes 1
Ohio 5 Putnam 2
Seneca 1
Van Wert 2
Pennsylvania 1 Mercer 1
Tennessee 17 Carroll 2
Coffee 2
Cumberland 4
Montgomery 2
Morgan 7
Totals 36
All deaths were tornado-related


External links[edit]