2012 Leap Day tornado outbreak
Aerial view of damage from an EF2 tornado in Branson, Missouri.
|Duration||February 28–29, 2012|
|Tornadoes confirmed||42 confirmed|
|Max rating1||EF4 tornado|
|Duration of tornado outbreak2||2 Days 26 hours, 17 minutes|
|Damage||$475 million (estimated)|
|Casualties||15 fatalities total|
1Most severe tornado damage; see Enhanced 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. Just two days later, a larger and deadlier outbreak occurred across the eastern and southern United States.
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. 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. Other severe damage, due to several additional 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 an 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 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||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 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||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||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||0047||0.75 miles (1.21 km)||Brief tornado remained over an open field and caused no damage.|
|EF0||SE of Moundridge||McPherson||0117||2.3 miles (3.7 km)||Several trees and power lines were downed, and highway signs were twisted.|
|EF2||Harveyville||Wabaunsee||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.|
|EF1||S of Globe||Franklin, Douglas||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||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||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||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 multiple 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
|List of reported tornadoes - Wednesday, February 29, 2012|
|EF1||NW of Phillipsburg to Southern Lebanon||Laclede||0618||11 miles (18 km)||Tornado damaged multiple 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||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||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||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||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||0910||20.75 miles (33.39 km)||Multiple 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||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, IL||Cape Girardeau, Union (IL), Jackson (IL)||0947||32 miles (51 km)||This long-track multiple-vortex tornado first touched down in Oak Ridge, where multiple 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||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 structured were damaged or destroyed along the path.|
|EF1||E of Bell City to SE of Benton||Stoddard, Scott||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||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||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)||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||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||1240||0.5 miles (0.80 km)||Brief tornado caused no damage.|
|EF1||Southwestern Greenville||Muhlenberg||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||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||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||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||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||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||1842||6 miles (9.7 km)||Intermittent tornado badly damaged multiple 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||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||1922||7.2 miles (11.6 km)||Multiple 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||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||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||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. Multiple 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||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||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||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|
This violent early morning tornado produced devastating damage and multiple 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 multiple large trees and moved through the Liberty community at the southwest edge of Harrisburg, where it caused minor damage to Harrisburg Middle School. 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 considerable 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 multiple 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 multiple small one-story apartment buildings were swept away and destroyed. On June 3 another victim died in the hospital from their injuries, raising the death toll to 8. 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. 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. Counting damage and death toll, it was reported to be the worst tornado related disaster in the United States since the Joplin, MO tornado of 2011. 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 tornado 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.
Just northeast of Harrisburg, EF3 tree damage was observed as the tornado crossed Illinois Route 13, with multiple 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. 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.
- Tornadoes of 2012
- Tornado outbreak of March 2–3, 2012 - A larger and deadlier tornado outbreak that occurred immediately after this one.
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