April 1996 tornado outbreak sequence

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F3 tornado
Max rating1 F3 tornado
1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale

The April 1996 tornado outbreak sequence was a series of tornado outbreaks that occurred over a three-day period between April 19 to April 21, 1996 across a large area of eastern North America. It was the most notable outbreak of the year; the 19th was the most prolific tornado outbreak in Illinois history.

Thirty-three tornadoes hit Illinois. It broke the old record of 25 set on August 10, 1974. This outbreak can also be compared to the May 2004 tornado outbreak sequence as it was a very huge, deep and vigorous system. The same system produced tornadoes in Ontario on the 20th; and destructive tornadoes also occurred in Arkansas and Texas on the 21st.

Meteorological synopsis[edit]

The outbreak occurred when the warm front of a deep storm system moved north and east out of Missouri. April 19 started off cool and skies were overcast ahead of the warm front. Meteorologists were trying to figure out if the warm front would move into Illinois that afternoon. As the day wore on, temperatures warmed, dew points rose, and thunderstorms started to explode in Iowa during the mid-afternoon hours. Although there were some doubts on specifics, the potential significance of the outbreak was rather foreseeable, with storm chasers traveling from the Great Plains and the Storm Prediction Center issuing a high risk early on.

The outbreak across the south-central U.S. on the 21st was produced by a different weather system.

April 19[edit]

Illinois[edit]

Thirty-three tornadoes hit Illinois and spread west and south into Missouri, and Iowa and east and north into Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana on Friday, April 19. The town of Decatur was hit by a large F3 tornado, as were the towns of Urbana and Ogden. Major damage and injuries occurred in all three locations, and one person was killed in Ogden.

Indiana[edit]

In Indiana, 21 unconfirmed tornadoes were produced as the cold front moved into the area during the evening hours. Temperatures had warmed well into the 70's and lower 80's (20 to 26°C) before the storms hit. Five people were injured in Morgan County.

April 20[edit]

One of Canada's most prolific tornado outbreaks struck Ontario.

A vigorous branch of the jet stream from the Pacific Ocean combined with rich low-level moisture kept the storm system rolling, spinning off more tornadoes in the Southeast. One tornado hit Carroll County, Mississippi killing teenager Dexter Forman when a tree fell on his mobile home. Another tornado did massive damage to Berea, Kentucky but no one was killed.

April 21[edit]

On the 21st, while a final tornado was produced by the first system in southern Quebec, more tornadoes raked through eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas, killing a father and son and two kids in St. Paul and Fort Smith, respectively. KFSM-TV produced Sunday's Fury, a video production of the tornado that struck the Fort Smith / Van Buren, Arkansas area.[1]

117 tornadoes broke out in the Great Lakes, Midwest and Southeast region over the three-day period. The entire outbreak killed six people.

Tornado table[edit]

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
FU F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
0 56 33 18 11 0 0 118

Confirmed tornadoes[edit]

April 19 event[edit]

F# Location County Time (UTC) Path length Damage
Illinois
F0 N of Mattoon Coles 2120 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Brief tornado with no damage.
F0 N of Fairgrange Coles 2135 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Brief tornado with no damage.
F1 NW of Paris (1st tornado) Edgar 2210 2 miles
(3.2 km)
Machine sheds, barns and grain bins were destroyed. One home was damaged. Six farms in the area were affected.
F0 NW of Paris (2nd tornado) Edgar 2212 1 miles
(1.6 km)
A machine shed was destroyed while another shed, a garage and a baseball field were damaged.
F1 Rutland area LaSalle 2240 0.5 miles
(0.8 km)
A large building, a home and a garage were damaged.
F0 SW of Winchester Scott 2244 2 miles
(3.2 km)
A tree fell onto a car.
F0 NE of Valmeyer Monroe 2245 1 miles
(1.6 km)
Damage was limited to trees.
F0 W of Raritan Henderson 2300 5 miles
(8 km)
Caused minor damage. Most of the damage came from the second tornado that hit the area.
F2 S of Havana Mason 2307 9 miles
(14.4 km)
Two trailers, farm buildings and trees were destroyed. One home had major damage and eleven others had minor damage. A semi-truck was blown over into a field. One person was injured.
F1 E of Raritan Henderson 2310 3.5 miles
(5.6 km)
15 homes, a barn, and outbuildings were damaged. Heavy damage occurred at one farm where a bushel, three grain bins, and irrigation equipment were damaged or destroyed.
F0 Brimfield area Peoria 2310 4 miles
(6.4 km)
Minor damage to a church and a business. A van was pushed sideways into a bush and trees were damaged.
F1 Easton area Mason 2317 9 miles
(14.4 km)
Two homes were destroyed with five other sustaining major damage. The high school was also damaged and a barn and a home were lifted off of their foundations.
F2 E of Jacksonville Morgan 2318 6 miles
(9.6 km)
One home was destroyed while farm buildings were either damaged or destroyed. Two guard towers, one greenhouse and fencing at a prison were damaged. Two railroad cars near a chemical plant (which was also damaged) were overturned.
F0 Freeburg area St. Clair 2320 1.5 miles
(2.4 km)
Caused damage to trees and power lines.
F0 N of Dickeys Kankakee 2325 4 miles
(6.4 km)
Caused minor damage to farm buildings.
F0 W of Island Grove Morgan 2331 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Brief tornado with no damage.
F0 NE of New Berlin Sangamon 2332 4 miles
(6.4 km)
Damage to three homes, a barn and machine shed. Two semis were blown over on Interstate 72.
F3 E of Armington Logan, Tazewell, McLean 2358 9.4 miles
(15 km)
Two homes, a church and several outbuildings were destroyed. Over 15 other homes were also damaged while barns, farm equipment, trees and grain bins were damaged or destroyed.
F0 W of Chester Randolph 0000 1.5 miles
(2.4 km)
Utility sheds and trees were destroyed.
F3 Bishop Hill/Galva area Henry 0000 3.5 miles
(5.6 km)
150 homes were damaged including 26 with major damage and 15 beyond repair. The city of Galva's sewage treatment plant was heavily damaged. Four people were injured.
F0 Momence area Kankakee 0001 5 miles
(8 km)
Two homes had roof damage.
F0 Galva area Henry 0010 1 miles
(1.6 km)
Gravestones at a cemetery were pushed over.
F3 Decatur area Macon 0022 14.5 miles
(23.2 km)
8-10 homes, one church, a grain silo and the Sims Lumber Company were destroyed. A school gymnasium, several buildings at a manufacturing plant and several homes were damaged. 29 people were injured and damage was estimated at $9 million.
F2 Salem area Marion 0035 20 miles
(32 km)
Several buildings at the County Fairgrounds, eight mobile homes and two homes were destroyed while 46 homes and mobile homes and 23 businesses were damaged. Two-ton trucks were turned 180 degrees by the tornado. Seven people were injured. Damage was estimated at $7 million.
F0 NW of Tiskilwa Bureau 0040 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Damage was limited to a power pole.
F1 S of Milmine Piatt 0055 0.3 miles
(0.5 km)
A grain bin was destroyed while homes, cars and trees were damaged. Trucks were overturned, and a grain auger was thrown over a set of railroad tracks.
F0 SW of Baldwin Randolph 0059 2 miles
(3.2 km)
Caused damage to trees and power lines.
F1 S of Monticello Piatt 0100 2 miles
(3.2 km)
Two homes, three single engine planes, two gliders and a hangar were destroyed near or at the airport. A church, one home, one hangar and a machine shed were damaged.
F1 Greendale area Marion, Clay 0105 5 miles
(8 km)
A farm house, a barn and farm buildings were destroyed. Trees and power lines were downed.
F0 S of Tilden Randolph 0112 3 miles
(4.8 km)
Damage to trees and power lines.
F0 NW of Breman Randolph 0115 2 miles
(3.2 km)
Roof damage to a home and barn with trees and power lines down.
F1 W of Mulkeytown Perry, Franklin 0120 2.5 miles
(4 km)
A church, a house and trees were damaged while outbuildings were destroyed. A tractor-trailer was overturned.
F1 Vernon area Fayette, Marion 0120 11.5 miles
(18.4 km)
Three barns, several sheds and a home were destroyed.
F3 Urbana area Champaign 0134 4 miles
(6.4 km)
33 homes were destroyed while 83 homes and five businesses had minor to moderate damage. Damage was estimated at $9 million and twelve people were injured.
F3 Ogden area Champaign 0155 2 miles
(3.2 km)
1 death - Major damage throughout most of Ogden. 68 homes, twelve businesses, three churches, a library was destroyed and the grade school were heavily damaged. 179 homes and twenty businesses had minor to major damage. One person was killed along Interstate 74 and thirteen people were injured.
F0 NW of Catlin Vermilion 0208 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Brief touchdown with no damage.
F3 NE of Frisco to SW of Barnhill Jefferson, Hamilton, Wayne 0215 17 miles
(27.2 km)
Three homes were destroyed with 50 others sustaining moderate to severe damage. 45 outbuildings and barns were damaged or destroyed, as well as 60-70 grain bins. Hardest hit area was the town of Piopolis.
F1 N of Carmi White 0230 1 miles
(1.6 km)
Ten hangars, eight planes and an automobile were destroyed at the airport. A church was also damaged.
F2 Zion area Lake 0432 2 miles
(3.2 km)
400 homes and businesses were damaged with 32 sustaining major damage. Five trucks were overturned and trees were blown down. Two people were injured.
Missouri
F0 NE of Bloomsdale Ste. Genevieve 0000 0.3 miles
(0.5 km)
Damage was limited to trees.
F0 SE of Mine La Motte Madison 0210 0.3 miles
(0.5 km)
Brief touchdown with no damage.
F3 Perryville area Perry 0230 11.5 miles
(18.4 km)
Thirteen homes were destroyed and 68 homes were damaged including five with major damage. Six businesses and 69 outbuildings were damaged or destroyed.
F2 S of Doniphan Ripley 0300 10 miles
(16 km)
A mobile home was overturned. Trees fell on homes and cars.
F2 NW of Poplar Bluff Butler 0305 2.5 miles
(4 km)
Numerous barns and utility poles were destroyed while homes, hay balers and farm equipment were damaged. Grain bins and other items were carried some distance.
F1 N of Bernie Stoddard 0403 0.6 miles
(1 km)
A house trailer was destroyed and several houses were damaged. Two schools and a grocery store sustained roof damage.
Texas
F0 W of Pidcoke Coryell 0030 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Several barns were destroyed.
F2 N of Commerce Hunt 0038 0.5 miles
(0.8 km)
Two mobile homes were destroyed while two homes, trees and power lines were damaged.
Indiana
F1 Landersdale area Morgan, Johnson 0040 5 miles
(8 km)
Six buildings were destroyed and 50 others damaged. 4 people were injured.
F1 SW of Burr Oak Marshall 0150 1 miles
(1.6 km)
Farm buildings were damaged and power lines were downed.
F1 SE of Plymouth Marshall 0205 1 miles
(1.6 km)
A mobile home was damaged and a truck was overturned.
F0 N of Milford Kosciusko 0252 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Brief touchdown with no damage.
F0 NW of Emison Knox 0315 1 miles
(1.6 km)
A pole barn was destroyed and two train cars were blown over.
F2 SW of Yankeetown Warrick 0440 2 miles
(3.2 km)
Several buildings at a manufacturing plant were damaged. Five railroad box cars were overturned, and two metal culverts were lifted. Two mobile homes were destroyed as well.
F2 W of Arthur Pike 0442 0.8 miles
(1.3 km)
One home was destroyed with ten others sustaining minor to moderate damage. 10-15 barn and small sheds were destroyed.
F0 NW of Heltonville Lawrence 0457 1 miles
(1.6 km)
Several homes were damaged and numerous trees were downed.
F0 E of Freetown Jackson 0505 1 miles
(1.6 km)
F1 SW of Burnsville Bartholomew 0545 1 miles
(1.6 km)
Damage to several farm buildings and a transmission tower.
F0 Westport area Decatur 0555 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Several farm buildings were destroyed while the South Decatur High School sustained damage. A transmission tower was also blown down.
F1 E of Harris City Decatur 0601 1.2 miles
(1.9 km)
Several buildings were damaged or destroyed.
F2 NW of Greenville Floyd 0608 1 miles
(1.6 km)
Six homes were damaged while mobile homes were overturned.
Iowa
F0 Preston area Jackson 0117 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Damage to trees and power lines.
F0 S of Preston Clinton 0117 0.2 miles
(0.32 km)
One home had roof damage.
Kentucky
F1 Mount Washington area Bullitt 0640 1 miles
(1.6 km)
118 homes were damaged, with 3 homes and two mobile homes being destroyed.
Source: Tornado History Project - April 19, 1996 Storm Data, NCDC Storm Data

April 20 event[edit]

F# Location County Time (UTC) Path length Damage
Kentucky
F1 SW of Goodnight Barren 0830 0.5 miles
(0.8 km)
A mobile home was swept away, injuring four people.
F1 E of Hiseville Barren, Metcalfe 0834 4 miles
(6.4 km)
A church was heavily damaged. Two trailers and several barns were destroyed, and other property damage occurred.
F0 S of Pierce Green 0845 3 miles
(4.8 km)
Several barns were destroyed and utility poles were snapped.
F2 NW of Geneva to NE of Preachersville Lincoln 0926 12 miles
(18.4 km)
Twenty homes and mobile homes and six businesses were destroyed, as well as a church and two show pavilions at the county fairgrounds. One home was picked up and slammed into the ground 50–100 feet away. Seven people were injured.
F1 SW of Quail Rockcastle, Pulaski 0928 2 miles
(3.2 km)
Barns, trees and homes were hit. A church steeple was also toppled while trees were downed, with some falling onto homes. A flying trailer knocked out power lines and landed on a mobile home.
F1 N of Ottawa Garrard 0930 6 miles
(9.6 km)
A dozen barns were destroyed and six cows were killed.
F2 Berea area Madison 0945 2 miles
(3.2 km)
800 homes were damaged including 35 completely destroyed or heavily damaged. 40 businesses were damaged including 26 businesses destroyed or severely damaged. A storage tank was also toppled into a plant producing equipment for space shuttles. A tourist center was also damaged. Ten people were injured and damage was estimated at close to $13 million.
F1 Wagersville area Estill 0955 5 miles
(8 km)
40 homes and 20 barns were damaged - including three destroyed homes and twelve destroyed barns. Farm machinery was also damaged.
Tennessee
F2 SE of Barnesville Lawrence 1145 0.5 miles
(0.8 km)
One home lost its roof. 12 people were injured.
F2 SE of Summertown Lawrence 1150 1 miles
(1.6 km)
25 homes were damaged, including two heavily.
F2 N of Lynnville Giles 1156 1 miles
(1.6 km)
A brick structure was damaged and a mobile home was leveled.
F2 W of Cornersville Marshall 1203 1.5 miles
(2.4 km)
Seven mobile homes were destroyed and ten others were damaged.
Mississippi
F1 W of Winona Carroll 1340 6 miles
(9.6 km)
1 death - A pump house was destroyed while a veterinary clinic, a barn, a cabin, trees and a church were damaged. Fatality occurred when a tree fell onto a mobile home.
Alabama
F0 Birmingham area Jefferson 1709 0.3 miles
(0.5 km)
Some minor structural damage occurred and trees were downed.
North Carolina
F0 SE of Sugar Hill McDowell 1750 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Roof was partially removed from a home.
F1 SE of Boone Watauga 1800 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
16 vehicles at an amusement park were damaged with one person injured.
Texas
F1 Timpson area Shelby 2115 5 miles
(8 km)
Two trailers were destroyed, and trees and power lines were downed.
Louisiana
F0 SW of Kingston De Soto 2145 0.5 miles
(0.8 km)
Damage was limited to trees.
Ontario
F3 SW of Williamsford to Meaford Grey 2350 25 miles
(40 km)
See article on this tornado
F3 SW of Arthur to E of Violet Hill Wellington, Dufferin 0010 37.5 miles
(60 km)
See article on this tornado
F0 SW of Orillia Simcoe unknown unknown See article on this tornado
Source: Tornado History Project - April 20, 1996 Storm Data, Southern Ontario Tornadoes of 1996, NCDC Storm Data

April 21 event[edit]

F# Location County Time (UTC) Path length Damage
Quebec
F0 Ormstown Le Haut-Saint-Laurent unknown unknown
Oklahoma
F0 NE of Perry Noble 2200 2 miles
(3.2 km)
Brief touchdown with no damage.
F1 NE of Ratliff City Carter 2242 0.5 miles
(0.8 km)
Power poles, outbuildings, and trees were damaged.
F1 W of Healdton Jefferson, Carter 2330 4.5 miles
(7.2 km)
A mobile home was damaged and windows were blown out of homes.
F0 SE of Fox Carter 2335 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Brief touchdown with no damage.
F0 NW of Wilson Carter 2335 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Brief touchdown with no damage.
F0 N of Oil City Carter 2345 2.5 miles
(4 km)
Weak tornado with no damage.
F0 SE of Chigley Murray 2351 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Brief touchdown with no damage.
F1 N of Barnsdall Osage 0000 0.5 miles
(0.8 km)
F0 SE of Davis Murray 0025 1 miles
(1.6 km)
One home had roof damage and a mobile home was blown off its foundation.
F1 NW of Sulphur Murray 0028 3 miles
(4.8 km)
A church, an apartment complex and a restaurant were damaged. Outbuildings, radio antennas and trees were destroyed as well. 12 homes had minor to major damage.
F0 NW of Nowata Nowata 0028 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
F0 NW of Scullin (1st tornado) Murray 0049 0.5 miles
(0.8 km)
Damage to barns and silos.
F0 NW of Scullin (2nd tornado) Murray 0050 0.5 miles
(0.8 km)
Damage to barns and two silos.
F1 W of Fairland Ottawa 0115 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
F0 McAlester area Pittsburg 0215 3 miles
(4.8 km)
F1 NE of Richville Pittsburg 0230 5 miles
(8 km)
F1 NE of Lewisville Haskell 0300 1 miles
(1.6 km)
F3 Fort Smith, AR area Sequoyah, Sebastian (AR), Crawford (AR) 0212 10.1 miles
(16.2 km)
2 deaths - 498 homes were destroyed while 620 had major damage and 1275 had minor damage. 98 businesses were damaged or destroyed and 246 apartment units were damaged. The downtown business district of Fort Smith was devastated near the Garrison Avenue Bridge. Homes were also destroyed in Van Buren. 89 people were injured.
Texas
F0 E of Sunset Montague 0125 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Power lines were blown down.
F0 NE of Bowie Montague 0130 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Brief touchdown with no damage.
F0 NW of Gainesville Cooke 0200 2 miles
(3.2 km)
Two barns were destroyed and trees were damaged.
F0 NW of Lindsay Cooke 0205 2 miles
(3.2 km)
Several homes had siding damage and trees were damaged.
F0 S of Gainesville Cooke 0220 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Brief touchdown with no damage.
F0 SW of Dixie Grayson 0233 1 miles
(1.6 km)
A barn was destroyed and trees were damaged.
F0 W of Denison Grayson 0307 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Damage to trees and power lines.
F0 NW of Lindsay (2nd tornado) Cooke 0325 1 miles
(1.6 km)
A fence was destroyed and trees were damaged.
F0 NW of Dixie Grayson 0358 2 miles
(3.2 km)
A barn was destroyed and trees were damaged.
F0 SE of Locust Grayson 0440 2 miles
(3.2 km)
Trees and power lines were damaged.
Missouri
F0 S of Seymour Webster 0430 2 miles
(3.2 km)
A garage and a barn were destroyed.
Arkansas
F2 S of Fern Franklin 0455 3 miles
(4.8 km)
Seven homes were destroyed and several other buildings were damaged. Numerous trees were also downed and two people were injured.
F3 SW of Dutton to SW of Weathers Madison 0515 15 miles
(24 km)
2 deaths - Worst damage occurred in the St. Paul area. 8 homes and a mobile home were destroyed while a church was also damaged. Six people were injured.
F2 NE of Yellville Marion 0640 12 miles
(18.4 km)
Trailers were either damaged or destroyed with homes and businesses also being damaged. Six people were injured.
F1 N of Natural Dam Crawford 0708 1 miles
(1.6 km)
Several homes were damaged.
Source: Tornado History Project - April 21, 1996 Storm Data, Quebec tornadoes 1985-present, NCDC Storm Data

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sunday’s Fury: KFSM Coverage of the 1996 Fort Smith, Van Buren Tornado". Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS. 2015-04-22. Retrieved 2017-05-09. 

External links[edit]