2012 Leap Day tornado outbreak

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2012 Leap Day tornado outbreak
Aerial view of damage from an EF2 tornado in Branson, Missouri.
TypeTornado outbreak
DurationFebruary 28–29, 2012
Tornadoes confirmed42 confirmed
Max rating1EF4 tornado
Duration of tornado outbreak22 days, 26 hours, 17 minutes
Damage$475 million[1] (estimated)
Fatalities15 fatalities total
1Most severe tornado damage; see Enhanced Fujita scale 2Time from first tornado to last tornado

The 2012 Leap Day tornado outbreak was a significant and deadly tornado outbreak on February 28 and February 29, 2012. It caused severe damage in several regions, especially the Great Plains and Ohio Valley regions. It also resulted in several tornadoes in the Central Plains, a rarity for the time of year. The most destructive and deadly tornado was a violent early-morning EF4 that hit Harrisburg, Illinois, killing 8 people. In total, 15 people died in the outbreak. Just two days later, a larger and deadlier outbreak devastated the Ohio Valley and Southern United States.

Meteorological synopsis[edit]

A significant and deadly tornado outbreak began in the Great Plains on February 28, as supercell thunderstorms developed and tornadoes touched down across the region. An EF2 tornado struck the small town of Harveyville, Kansas during the late evening hours, killing one person and injuring 12 others.[2] 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. As the storms moved into Missouri later that night and into the early morning hours of February 29, numerous strong tornadoes touched down. An EF2 devastated a mobile home park and killed one person near Buffalo, while an EF3 caused another fatality and destroyed homes near Asherville. By 3:00 am CST on February 29, Branson, Missouri was reporting injuries and severe damage to the town from an EF2 tornado, with homes destroyed and several hotels, businesses, and theaters sustaining severe damage.[3] Three other deaths occurred in southern Missouri.[4]

As the storms moved into Illinois in the pre-dawn hours, they merged into an intense squall line with embedded semi-discrete supercell thunderstorms. A violent EF4 tornado touched down and ripped through the city of Harrisburg, destroying entire neighborhoods, flattening businesses, and killing 8 people before causing additional destruction in the neighboring town of Ridgway. After sunrise, additional supercells developed and produced numerous tornadoes across Kentucky and Tennessee. Two tornadoes, rated EF1 and EF2, caused significant damage in Greenville, Kentucky. The town of Hodgenville, Kentucky also sustained heavy damage from two separate EF2 tornadoes. An EF1 tornado caused a fatality near Smithville, Tennessee, and an EF2 destroyed homes and killed two more people near Tennessee before the outbreak came to an end. A total of 42 tornadoes were confirmed, and 15 people were killed.[5]

Confirmed tornadoes[edit]

Confirmed tornadoes by Enhanced Fujita rating
EFU EF0 EF1 EF2 EF3 EF4 EF5 Total
0 10 13 17 1 1 0 42

February 28 event[edit]

List of reported tornadoes – Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Time (UTC)
Path length
EF0 NE of North Platte Lincoln, Logan 41°21′N 100°29′W / 41.35°N 100.49°W / 41.35; -100.49 (North Platte (Feb. 28, EF0)) 2213 3 miles (4.8 km) Tornado was reported by an off-duty NWS employee and remained primarily over open fields, though scattered tree damage occurred and an irrigation pivot was also damaged. This was the first tornado to be reported in Nebraska in February since records began in 1950.
EF0 W of Greeley Greeley 41°33′N 98°37′W / 41.55°N 98.61°W / 41.55; -98.61 (Greeley (Feb. 28, EF0)) 0100 Unknown Very brief tornado in a field flipped and destroyed an irrigation pivot.
EF0 SE of Randall Jewell, Cloud 39°35′N 97°59′W / 39.59°N 97.98°W / 39.59; -97.98 (Randall (Feb. 28, EF0)) 2328 4.8 miles (7.7 km) Tornado struck a farm, damaging trees and tearing off the metal roof of an outbuilding. A small metal building was destroyed, a barn sustained roof damage, and water tanks were thrown. Cars were damaged by flying debris and power poles were broken.
EF0 Southeastern Belleville Republic 39°47′N 97°41′W / 39.79°N 97.68°W / 39.79; -97.68 (Belleville (Feb. 28, EF0)) 0005 6.1 miles (9.8 km) This weak tornado clipped the southeast side of Belleville. A few residences sustained minor damage in and around town, and many trees were downed at the Belleville Country Club. A few outbuildings were damaged outside of town as well.
EF0 SSW of Hutchinson Reno 37°59′N 97°58′W / 37.99°N 97.96°W / 37.99; -97.96 (Hutchinson (Feb. 28, EF0)) 0043 1.2 miles (1.9 km) Tornado destroyed a barn, downed a fence, and overturned a pickup truck and a stock trailer. A few trees were downed and a house sustained porch damage.
EF0 S of Hutchinson Reno 37°56′N 98°00′W / 37.94°N 98.00°W / 37.94; -98.00 (Hutchinson (Feb. 28, EF0)) 0047 0.75 miles (1.21 km) Brief tornado remained over an open field and caused no damage.
EF0 SE of Moundridge McPherson 38°11′N 97°31′W / 38.18°N 97.51°W / 38.18; -97.51 (Moundridge (Feb. 28, EF0)) 0117 2.3 miles (3.7 km) Several trees and power lines were downed, and highway signs were twisted.
EF2 Harveyville Wabaunsee 38°47′N 95°58′W / 38.79°N 95.96°W / 38.79; -95.96 (Harveyville (Feb. 28, EF2)) 0302 5 miles (8.0 km) 1 death – This high-end EF2 tornado heavily damaged or destroyed many homes and other structures in Harveyville. A church was completely destroyed, and an apartment complex sustained major damage. Many trees and power poles were snapped throughout town, and vehicles were flipped. Almost every structure in Harveyville sustained some form of damage, and one man was fatally injured in his home. 12 other people were also injured. The tornado formed and dissipated so quickly, within three to five minutes, that no tornado warning was issued.[6]
EF1 S of Globe Franklin, Douglas 38°44′N 95°24′W / 38.73°N 95.40°W / 38.73; -95.40 (Globe (Feb. 28, EF1)) 0406 3.5 miles (5.6 km) Outbuildings and grain bins were destroyed, an RV trailer was overturned, and residences sustained some damage.
EF1 WNW of Nashville to WNW of Lamar Barton 37°23′N 94°34′W / 37.39°N 94.56°W / 37.39; -94.56 (Nashville (Feb. 28, EF1)) 0452 16 miles (26 km) Five barns were damaged, along with the roofs of a farmhouse and a garage. Numerous trees were snapped or uprooted along the path.
EF1 NNW of Greenfield to SE of Aldrich Dade, Polk 37°28′N 93°52′W / 37.46°N 93.86°W / 37.46; -93.86 (Greenfield (Feb. 28, EF1)) 0526 18.6 miles (29.9 km) Tornado damaged or destroyed ten barns, and inflicted roof damage to two homes along its path.
EF2 E of Schofield to SE of Buffalo Polk, Dallas 37°33′N 93°11′W / 37.55°N 93.19°W / 37.55; -93.19 (Halfway (Feb. 28, EF2)) 0558 10 miles (16 km) 1 death – This tornado caused extensive damage near Buffalo. A mobile home park in that area was severely impacted, with mobile homes destroyed and one fatality occurring at that location. Two frame homes and three turkey barns were significantly damaged, and many trees and power poles were downed along the path. 12 people 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[edit]

List of reported tornadoes – Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Time (UTC)
Path length
EF1 NW of Phillipsburg to Southern Lebanon Laclede 37°34′N 92°49′W / 37.57°N 92.81°W / 37.57; -92.81 (Phillipsburg (Feb. 29, EF1)) 0618 11 miles (18 km) Tornado damaged structures along its path, mainly in the southern part of Lebanon. Several homes and a boat plant sustained roof damage, and a Lowe's garden center was severely damaged. Several other businesses were also damaged, a mobile home was destroyed, and many trees were downed along the path. Five people were injured.
EF1 SE of Bennett Spring Laclede 37°43′N 92°50′W / 37.72°N 92.84°W / 37.72; -92.84 (Bennett Spring (Feb. 29, EF1)) 0622 0.25 miles (0.40 km) Tornado struck a campground, damaging or destroying at least 20 RV campers. Numerous trees and a pole barn were damaged. An antique shop and two homes sustained minor roof damage as well.
EF2 NW of Cassville Barry 36°42′N 93°55′W / 36.70°N 93.92°W / 36.70; -93.92 (Cassville (Feb. 29, EF2)) 0642 1.7 miles (2.7 km) 1 death – Four mobile homes and one frame home were destroyed near Cassville. Another frame home was significantly damaged, and a tractor trailer was flipped. The fatality occurred when an elderly man was killed in the destruction of his mobile home. Four others were injured.
EF1 NW of Edgar Springs to NE of Lake Spring Phelps, Dent 37°43′N 91°53′W / 37.71°N 91.88°W / 37.71; -91.88 (Edgar Springs (Feb. 29, EF2)) 0706 19 miles (31 km) The damage from this tornado was limited to downed trees as it impacted heavily forested areas along its path.
EF2 Kimberling City to S of Kissee Mills Stone, Taney 36°38′N 93°13′W / 36.64°N 93.22°W / 36.64; -93.22 (Branson (Feb. 29, EF2)) 0713 22 miles (35 km) This high-end EF2 tornado caused extensive damage in Branson. First touching down and striking Kimberling City, the tornado damaged 30 homes in town. At the Port of Kimberling Marina, four large boat docks were damaged or destroyed and nearly 150 boats were damaged, one of which was sunk. Several other homes were damaged further to the east before the tornado struck Branson, causing severe damage in the downtown area and entertainment strip. 14 theaters and attractions, 25 restaurants, 21 hotels, two shopping centers, and several small businesses were all heavily damaged. The tornado blew out or cracked roughly 70% of the windows at the 12-story/295 room Hilton Branson Convention Center, and vehicles at the Ride the Ducks attraction were flipped over as well. Over 100 homes and mobile homes were damaged or destroyed in the Branson area, and many trees and power lines were downed. The tornado continued east of town through more rural areas before dissipating. 47 people were injured.
EF2 W of Jewett to ESE of Sedgewickville Madison, Bollinger 37°27′N 90°07′W / 37.45°N 90.12°W / 37.45; -90.12 (Marquand (Feb. 29, EF1)) 0910 20.75 miles (33.39 km) Barns and homes sustained roof damage along the path, and one small and poorly-constructed home was completely destroyed and swept from its foundation with debris strewn in all directions. A mobile home was flipped onto its roof, and a businesses had half of its roof torn off. Numerous large trees were snapped and uprooted along the path, and many power poles were downed as well. One person was injured.
EF2 ENE of Mayfield Bollinger, Cape Girardeau 37°28′N 89°52′W / 37.47°N 89.86°W / 37.47; -89.86 (Mayfield (Feb. 29, EF2)) 0934 7.65 miles (12.31 km) Multiple-vortex tornado damaged three frame homes. Each home had a majority of its windows blown out, including one that part of its roof torn off. One of these homes had its attached garage lifted and tossed 100 yards (91 m) downwind. Two mobile homes had their roofs partially ripped off, large trees were snapped and uprooted, and outbuildings were destroyed as well.
EF2 Oak Ridge to SE of Makanda, Illinois Cape Girardeau, Union (IL), Jackson (IL) 37°30′N 89°44′W / 37.50°N 89.73°W / 37.50; -89.73 (Oak Ridge (Feb. 29, EF2)) 0947 32 miles (51 km) This long-track multiple-vortex tornado first touched down in Oak Ridge, where homes sustained primarily partial roof loss. Additional homes sustained similar damage near Pocahontas. The tornado crossed into Illinois, where several homes were damaged in the town of Alto Pass before it dissipated near Makanda. Thousands of trees were snapped and uprooted along the path, power lines were downed, and many barns and grain bins were destroyed.
EF3 W of Asherville to W of Bell City Stoddard 36°54′N 90°13′W / 36.90°N 90.21°W / 36.90; -90.21 (Asherville (Feb. 29, EF2)) 1000 21 miles (34 km) 1 death – Barns, outbuildings, and mobile homes were destroyed along the path, with a fatality occurring in one of the mobile homes. A frame home was destroyed, while another was severely damaged. Several other frame homes sustained minor damage, and a total of 50 structures were damaged or destroyed along the path.
EF1 E of Bell City to SE of Benton Stoddard, Scott 37°01′N 89°48′W / 37.02°N 89.80°W / 37.02; -89.80 (Bell City (Feb. 29, EF2)) 1024 17.5 miles (28.2 km) Grain bins and silos were destroyed, while several barns were damaged. Homes sustained roof and siding damage. Irrigation pivots were overturned and chicken houses were destroyed as well.
EF2 S of Marion Williamson 37°38′N 89°03′W / 37.63°N 89.05°W / 37.63; -89.05 (Marion (Feb. 29, EF2)) 1028 14.5 miles (23.3 km) A large metal warehouse building was heavily damaged, and numerous homes sustained mainly minor roof damage. Hundreds of trees were snapped or uprooted along the path, and many power lines were downed. Several barns and outbuildings were destroyed or heavily damaged as well.
EF4 SW of Carrier Mills to ENE of Ridgway Saline, Gallatin 37°44′N 88°33′W / 37.74°N 88.55°W / 37.74; -88.55 (Harrisburg (Feb. 29, EF4)) 1051 26.5 miles (42.6 km) 8 deaths – See section on this tornado
EF2 Mounds to NW of Metropolis Pulaski (IL), Ballard (KY), McCracken (KY), Massac (IL) 37°07′N 89°12′W / 37.11°N 89.20°W / 37.11; -89.20 (Mounds (Feb. 29, EF2)) 1100 26.5 miles (42.6 km) This strong, long-track tornado crossed the Ohio River twice along the Illinois-Kentucky line. The tornado touched down in the town of Mounds, where a railroad cross arm was ripped off and driven into a vehicle. The tornado crossed into Kentucky and passed near the towns of Oscar and Bandana, destroying chicken houses, barns, a machine shed, and a mobile home. Several frame homes in this area sustained damage to their roofs, siding, and gutters. Past Bandana, the tornado heavily damaged or destroyed several homes and mobile homes and blew the steeple off of a church. Sheds and barns were destroyed, with debris deposited in trees hundreds of yards away. Vehicles in this area were moved up to 75 yards away from where they originated, and two semi-trailers were overturned. The tornado then crossed back into Illinois, where additional barns and sheds were destroyed before the tornado dissipated near Metropolis. Hundreds of trees were snapped and uprooted along the path. Five people were injured, one seriously.
EF1 NE of Henderson Henderson 37°52′N 87°35′W / 37.87°N 87.58°W / 37.87; -87.58 (Henderson (Feb. 29, EF1)) 1157 1 mile (1.6 km) This tornado moved along the north bank of the Ohio River, completely destroying a poorly-constructed cabin and partially destroying three others. Several power poles were blown over as well.
EF0 NE of Madisonville Hopkins 37°20′N 87°29′W / 37.34°N 87.49°W / 37.34; -87.49 (Madisonville (Feb. 29, EF0)) 1240 0.5 miles (0.80 km) Brief tornado caused no damage.
EF1 Southwestern Greenville Muhlenberg 37°13′N 87°11′W / 37.21°N 87.19°W / 37.21; -87.19 (Greenville (Feb. 29, EF1)) 1445 700 feet (210 m) Brief tornado touched down in the southwestern part of Greenville, where an apartment building lost portions of its roof decking and large branches were snapped off of trees. A barn structure had part of its roof torn off, and several houses sustained minor siding damage.
EF2 Eastern Greenville to S of Cleaton Muhlenberg 37°13′N 87°11′W / 37.21°N 87.18°W / 37.21; -87.18 (Greenville (Feb. 29, EF2)) 1445 5.4 miles (8.7 km) Second of two tornadoes to strike Greenville during this outbreak. The tornado touched down in the eastern part of town, where Muhlenberg South Middle School lost a significant portion of its roof and metal bleachers were tossed, frame homes had roofs ripped off, and large trees were snapped. A mobile home was rolled and destroyed, injuring the occupant. The tornado continued off to the northeast before lifting south of Cleaton, moving a modular home off of its cinder block foundation, ripping the roof off of a barn, and causing minor siding damage to a several additional homes.
EF2 SE of Clarkson Grayson 37°29′N 86°10′W / 37.48°N 86.16°W / 37.48; -86.16 (Clarkson (Feb. 29, EF2)) 1542 2 miles (3.2 km) Three mobile homes were tossed through the air and destroyed, one of which was thrown 400 yards. A brick home had its roof torn off and sustained some collapse of exterior walls. A convenience store sustained roof damage, headstones were knocked over in a cemetery, and trees were snapped as well. One person was seriously injured.
EF2 N of Glendale to SE of Elizabethtown Hardin 37°37′N 85°54′W / 37.62°N 85.90°W / 37.62; -85.90 (Elizabethtown (Feb. 29, EF2)) 1555 5 miles (8.0 km) Several homes had their roofs ripped off, while other homes were damaged to a lesser degree. A barn was damaged and a work garage was destroyed. A trucking company housed in a metal industrial building was largely destroyed, with debris from the structure strewn across the Lincoln Parkway and into a nearby mobile home park. Numerous trees, power lines, and fences were downed along the path.
EF2 Southern Hodgenville LaRue 37°34′N 85°46′W / 37.56°N 85.77°W / 37.56; -85.77 (Hodgenville (Feb. 29, EF2)) 1605 1.7 miles (2.7 km) This intermittent tornado touched down to the west of Hodgenville and moved through the southern part of town. Damage near the beginning of the path consisted of minor roof damage and downed fences. In Hodgenville, two cars in a parking lot were rotated and one was flipped onto the other. Three homes in town sustained major damage, one of which lost its roof and an exterior wall. A daycare center sustained heavy roof damage, and several other structures had less severe damage to their roofs. Many trees were downed along the path.
EF2 Southeastern Hodgenville LaRue 37°34′N 85°44′W / 37.56°N 85.73°W / 37.56; -85.73 (Hodgenville (Feb. 29, EF2)) 1612 0.9 miles (1.4 km) Second of two EF2 tornadoes to strike Hodgenville during this outbreak. A work garage and two homes were significantly damaged, one of which had major damage to its exterior walls. A dumpster was thrown 75 yards into a tree, snapping it. Several treetops were damaged as well.
EF2 N of Mize to Malone Morgan 37°52′N 83°22′W / 37.87°N 83.37°W / 37.87; -83.37 (Grassy Creek (Feb. 29, EF2)) 1842 6 miles (9.7 km) Intermittent tornado badly damaged homes and mobile homes in the Grassy Creek community. Barns and outbuildings were also damaged or destroyed. A billboard was blown over and a lodge was destroyed in Malone near the end of the path.
EF1 SE of Center Metcalfe 37°08′N 85°41′W / 37.13°N 85.68°W / 37.13; -85.68 (Center (Feb. 29, EF1)) 1847 1.1 miles (1.8 km) Numerous trees were snapped and several barns were damaged.
EF2 N of Russell Springs to WSW of Windsor Russell, Casey 37°07′N 85°05′W / 37.12°N 85.08°W / 37.12; -85.08 (Russell Springs (Feb. 29, EF2)) 1922 7.2 miles (11.6 km) Mobile homes and modular homes were badly damaged or completely destroyed along the path. One modular home was twisted counterclockwise off of its foundation, with roughly a quarter of the house itself blown away. A brick home sustained major roof damage and collapse of one exterior wall. Outbuildings were damaged and destroyed, including a large dairy barn that had much of its roof torn off with the debris scattered into a nearby grove of trees. Many trees were downed along the path.
EF1 ENE of Science Hill Pulaski 37°11′N 84°35′W / 37.18°N 84.58°W / 37.18; -84.58 (Science Hill (Feb. 29, EF1)) 1953 1.5 miles (2.4 km) One barn was destroyed and several others suffered major damage. The top of a silo was blown off and several homes suffered major roof damage.
EF1 Newburgh Warrick 37°57′N 87°24′W / 37.95°N 87.40°W / 37.95; -87.40 (Newburgh (Feb. 29, EF1)) 1203 2 miles (3.2 km) A high-end EF1 tornado caused significant damage as it moved through Newburgh. Numerous homes had varying degrees of roof damage, two of which had their roofs blown off. Two businesses sustained roof damage, and another business had damage to its brick exterior wall. 12 telephone poles and numerous large trees were downed as well.
EF1 NW of Smithville to W of Bakers Crossroads DeKalb, White 35°58′N 85°50′W / 35.97°N 85.83°W / 35.97; -85.83 (Smithville (Feb. 29, EF1)) 2147 13 miles (21 km) 1 death – A small home was knocked off of its stilt foundation and rolled down a hill, killing a woman inside. Other homes sustained minor to moderate roof damage, a small warehouse structure was destroyed, a mobile home was damaged, and a church had its steeple blown off. Trees were snapped and uprooted, and barns were damaged with debris scattered across fields and into power lines.
EF0 NNW of Sparta White 36°01′N 85°32′W / 36.02°N 85.53°W / 36.02; -85.53 (Sparta (Feb. 29, EF0)) 2202 1.8 miles (2.9 km) A home and barn suffered roof damage, and several trees were snapped or uprooted along the path.
EF2 NNW of Crossville Cumberland 36°05′N 85°07′W / 36.09°N 85.11°W / 36.09; -85.11 (Crossville (Feb. 29, EF1)) 2230 5.1 miles (8.2 km) 2 deaths –Severe damage occurred in the Rinnie community as a result of this large wedge tornado. An unanchored and poorly-built brick home was slid off of its foundation and destroyed, a nearby home had its roof torn off, and a mobile home was completely destroyed with debris scattered hundreds of yards away. Other homes sustained roof and siding damage. More than 1,000 trees were uprooted or snapped along the path. 7 people were injured.
EF0 NE of Greenback Blount 35°41′N 84°08′W / 35.68°N 84.14°W / 35.68; -84.14 (Greenback (Feb. 29, EF1)) 0030 0.75 miles (1.21 km) Damage was limited mainly to trees, though an awning was removed 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

Notable tornadoes[edit]

Harrisburg–Ridgway, Illinois[edit]

EF4 damage to a strip mall in Harrisburg.

This violent early morning tornado produced devastating damage and fatalities in Harrisburg, Illinois, and caused additional severe damage in the neighboring town of Ridgway shortly before sunrise on February 29, 2012. The Harrisburg/Ridgway tornado was spawned by a semi-discrete supercell thunderstorm embedded within a larger squall line of storms that was racing through southern Illinois at the time. Touching down to the southwest of Carrier Mills at 4:51 a.m., the tornado initially snapped tree limbs at EF0 intensity as it moved to the northeast and clipped the northern edge of town. A church in this area had its steeple bent over and one of its exterior walls bowed out. EF0 damage continued to the north of Ledford, with a home sustaining minor damage in that area. Past Ledford, the tornado strengthened to EF1 intensity as it uprooted large trees and moved through the Liberty community at the southwest edge of Harrisburg, where it caused minor damage to Harrisburg Middle School.[7] The tornado continued to intensify as it entered the southwestern edge of the city at 4:56 a.m., tearing through the Dorrisville neighborhood at EF2 strength, where many homes sustained significant damage and numerous trees were snapped and uprooted. A few small homes were destroyed, and a farm service business in this area sustained heavy damage. The tornado then rapidly intensified into a violent EF4 as it crossed South Commercial Street, where some businesses were completely leveled with only piles of rubble left behind. Several other businesses were damaged, and the large Christ Lutheran Church was flattened with debris wind-rowed long distances through a nearby field. A paper check from the church was later found in the yard of a residence 45 miles away. Continuing at EF4 strength, the tornado proceeded to level a large strip mall just to the south of the Walmart Supercenter, with large amounts of debris strewn into a nearby retention pond. EF4 damage continued as the tornado entered the Gaskins City neighborhood, where devastating damage occurred. Numerous homes in this area were badly damaged or destroyed, several of which were leveled or swept from their foundations. Seven people were confirmed dead in this area, with most of the fatalities occurring at a small apartment complex along Brady Street, where small one-story apartment buildings were swept away and destroyed.[8][9][10] On June 3 another victim died in the hospital from their injuries, raising the death toll to 8.[11] Vehicles were tossed and destroyed, many trees and power lines were downed, and metal fence posts were bent to the ground in this area as well. Harrisburg Medical Center also sustained major damage as the tornado exited Harrisburg and continued off to the northeast.[12][5] Peak winds in Harrisburg were estimated to have been about 180 mph, and the width of the tornado path was 275 yards (251 m). About 200 homes and about 25 businesses within the city were destroyed or severely damaged, with many other structures being damaged to a lesser degree. In addition to the 8 fatalities, 95 other people were injured, some critically. The following night, a mandatory curfew was in place in the affected areas; 5PM Wednesday afternoon through 7AM Thursday morning.[13] Counting damage and death toll, it was reported to be the worst tornado related disaster in the United States since the Joplin, Missouri tornado of 2011.[14] Harrisburg Unit 3 schools were closed until 5 March 2012 and upon reopening offered trauma counseling to its students.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] The tornado damage in Harrisburg dominated national airwaves for several days with both Anderson Cooper, and Diane Sawyer doing special reports.[18][19] 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.

Just northeast of Harrisburg, EF3 tree damage was observed as the tornado crossed Illinois Route 13, with hardwood trees denuded and debarked in this area. A house was destroyed at high-end EF2 intensity near this location as well, sustaining loss of its roof and exterior walls. The tornado continued through very sparsely populated areas of Saline County, traversing open farm fields and debarking several additional hardwood trees at EF3 strength. As the tornado passed to the south of Eldorado, trees were uprooted and another house had significant roof and exterior wall loss, with the damage at that location rated high-end EF2. As the tornado approached the Gallatin County line, a house sustained EF3 damage and was left with only interior rooms standing. The tornado then crossed into Gallatin County, snapping trees and inflicting high-end EF2 damage to another home. The tornado continued northeastward before striking the town of Ridgway, where severe damage occurred.[20][21] In Ridgway, the tornado damaged about 140 homes and businesses, with considerable damage to some structures in the downtown area. Numerous cars were tossed around, mainly on the east side of town. A factory building was severely damaged, many large trees were snapped and uprooted, power lines were downed, and about a half dozen grain bins were completely destroyed. Most of the damage in Ridgway was within the EF2 range, though a small pocket of low-end EF4 damage occurred where large and well-built brick church was almost entirely leveled with only part of the front wall left standing. No fatalities occurred in Ridgway, though 13 people were injured, one critically. Past Ridgway, the tornado snapped and uprooted trees at EF1 to EF2 strength before dissipating east-northeast of town. The Harrisburg/Ridgway tornado had a total path length of 26.5 miles and was on the ground for 22 minutes.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jeff Masters (April 9, 2012). "First U.S. billion-dollar disaster of 2012: March 2-3 tornado outbreak". Weather Underground. Archived from the original on April 9, 2012. Retrieved April 9, 2012.
  2. ^ "Harveyville Tornado Claims 1 Life". Retrieved 2012-05-01.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Six now reported dead in southern Illinois tornado". Southern Illinois News. Southernillinois.14wfie.com. 2012-02-29. Archived from the original on 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2012-12-07.
  4. ^ "13 killed as tornadoes rake Midwest states". NBC News. February 29, 2012. Archived from the original on February 29, 2012. Retrieved February 29, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c https://apps.dat.noaa.gov/StormDamage/DamageViewer/
  6. ^ "Harveyville, Kan., had no warning before tornado made direct hit". March 1, 2012. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
  7. ^ Stevens, Sharon (March 1, 2012). "Harrisburg Middle School suffered tornado damage". St. Louis, Missouri. KSDK News. Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  8. ^ http://www.dailyregister.com/news/x1957361037/Seventh-person-dies-from-Harrisburg-tornado
  9. ^ http://www.kfvs12.com/story/17042746/storm-reports-from-nws
  10. ^ "Storm toll in Illinois lowered to 6 dead from 10 – governor's office". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on 2012-03-04. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  11. ^ Bradfield, Robert (June 2, 2012). "Family reflects on life of 8th person killed from Harrisburg tornado". Harrisburg, Illinois. WPSD-TV, LLC. Archived from the original on June 7, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  12. ^ http://www.ahanews.com/ahanews/jsp/display.jsp?dcrpath=AHANEWS/AHANewsNowArticle/data/ann_030112_tornado&domain=AHANEWS Archived 2014-09-13 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ http://www.usc.salvationarmy.org/usc/www_usc_kan.nsf/0/4518B59A261F326A862579B50056D556?opendocument
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-04. Retrieved 2014-09-13.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-14. Retrieved 2014-09-13.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2012-06-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ http://www.dailyregister.com/news/x1785610593/FEMA-IEMA-officials-begin-conducting-damage-assessments
  18. ^ http://www.tv.com/shows/abc-world-news-with-diane-sawyer/harrisburg-illinois-devastated-by-tornadoes-2400488/
  19. ^ https://plus.google.com/106168900754103197479/posts/Aqu2xb2Gyup
  20. ^ Davey, Monica (2012-03-01). "Southern Illinois Town Is All Too Versed in Taking a Hit". The New York Times.
  21. ^ "Chicago Tribune article". Chicago Tribune.[dead link]

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