Tornado outbreak of May 15–17, 2013

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Tornado outbreak of May 15–17, 2013
NNVL - Devastating Tornadoes Overnight in Texas.png
Satellite image of supercell clusters in the Dallas–Fort Worth area during the evening of May 15.
Type Tornado outbreak
Duration May 15–17, 2013
Tornadoes confirmed 26
Max rating1 EF4 tornado
Duration of tornado outbreak2 1 day, 21 hours, 13 minutes
Highest winds
  • 180 mph (290 km/h)
    (Granbury, TX EF4 tornado on May 15)
Largest hail 4 in (10 cm) in diameter
(Mineral Wells, TX on May 15)
Damage US$272 million
Casualties 6 fatalities (63 injuries)

1Most severe tornado damage; see Enhanced Fujita scale 2Time from first tornado to last tornado

Part of the Tornadoes of 2013

The tornado outbreak of May 15–17, 2013 was a small but intense and deadly tornado outbreak that produced several damaging tornadoes in northern Texas, south-central Oklahoma, northern Louisiana, and northern Alabama. In mid-May 2013, an upper-level shortwave trough tracked across the Southern Plains of the United States. An associated low-pressure area and atmospheric instability resulted in the formation of tornadoes across northern Texas and Oklahoma on May 15. Afterwards the storm system weakened as it tracked westward, though six additional tornadoes were reported in Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama in the two days following May 15.[1][2] Over a period of nearly two days, the storm system produced 26 tornadoes in four states. The strongest of these was an EF4 tornado which struck Hood County, Texas on May 15. However, on May 16 and May 17 no tornadoes were confirmed to have been stronger than EF1 intensity. In addition to tornadoes, large hail was reported, peaking at 4 in (10 cm) in diameter near Mineral Wells, Texas on May 15.

The EF4 tornado in Hood County, Texas, accounted for all six deaths caused by the severe storms, making it the first deadly tornado event in Texas since the 2007 Piedras Negras-Eagle Pass tornadoes.[3] An additional 63 people were injured, many of which were due to the same EF4 tornado. A second tornado, rated EF3, was similarly damaging and impacted areas southwest of Cleburne, Texas, injuring seven. Damage across the four states due to the storm system reached roughly $272 million in damage.

Meteorological synopsis[edit]

Preliminary map of tornado, wind, and hail reports associated with the storm.

The outbreak was caused by an upper-level shortwave trough that moved northeastward from Mexico into the Southern Plains states during the nighttime the morning of May 15. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, Oklahoma, a division of the National Weather Service, initially issued a slight risk of severe thunderstorms early that morning over northwestern Texas, for a threat of large hail and damaging winds.[4] A low pressure area associated with the trough moved over Oklahoma that day, producing light to moderate rainfall and non-severe thunderstorms across that state into parts of North Texas. Later forecasts expanded the slight risk further into northern and central Texas, and later into far southern Oklahoma, and indicated an enhanced risk of a few isolated tornadoes in north Texas.[5]

The atmosphere began to destabilize due to a decrease in cloud cover over western and central Texas; the sunshine and heating, combined with sufficient wind shear and abundant low-level moisture, combined to produce a very unstable air mass. The SPC issued a severe thunderstorm watch from southern Oklahoma to central Texas that afternoon around 3:00 p.m. CDT.[6] Supercells broke out in parts of northwestern Texas during the late afternoon hours, one of which developed the first tornado of the day at 5:38 p.m., near Belcherville in Montague County. A second tornado spawned by the same storm, rated as an EF1, touched down near Lake Amon G. Carter, damaging four homes and destroying one. As forecasters realized that conditions now favored tornadic activity, the SPC issued a tornado watch from far southern Oklahoma into central Texas at 6 p.m. CDT, replacing parts of the original severe thunderstorm watch.[6]

At 7:13 p.m. CDT, storm spotters reported a large tornado on the ground near Millsap in Parker County, which caused roof damage to several homes in the town. This tornado remained on the ground as another tornado began to intensify near Mile Marker 409 on Interstate 20 southeast of Weatherford, Texas at 7:19 p.m. NWS doppler radar briefly detected both tornadoes, indicating the storm was a cyclical supercell (a type of supercell that can produce successive tornadoes), before the Millsap tornado finally dissipated.[6]

Survey analysis of the May 15, 2013 EF4 Granbury, Texas tornado detailing the tornado's track.

An EF4 tornado hit the town of Granbury, Texas in Hood County around 8 p.m. CDT, damaging or destroying around 100 homes and killing at least six people, with the most severe damage occurring in the Rancho Brazos neighborhood; the Granbury storm was the first violent tornado to hit North Texas since an F4 twister that killed three people in Lancaster in Dallas County on April 25, 1994.[7] The supercell that produced the Granbury tornado later spawned an EF3 tornado that hit the Fort Worth suburb of Cleburne in Johnson County around 9:30 p.m. CDT, producing its most significant damage just east of Lake Pat Cleburne.[7][8] The last twister of the outbreak touched down at 12:19 a.m., producing EF1 damage in the Ellis County town of Ennis, Texas, south-southeast of Dallas.[6] In total, the system produced at least 16 tornadoes that afternoon and evening across north and central Texas, from Montague to Coryell counties.[7][9]

The system continued to spin up tornadoes on May 16 and 17, though not of the same severity as the storms that occurred on the 15th, each causing only minor to moderate damage of EF0 and EF1 intensity. Four additional tornadoes occurred near the Shreveport metropolitan area on May 16, two of which touched down near Waskom, Texas, and two in Caddo Parish near the towns of Greenwood and Stonewall, Louisiana.[10] Two short-lived tornadoes touched down in Limestone County, Alabama on May 17, causing scattered damage to trees, roofs and a barn.[11]

Confirmed tornadoes[edit]

Confirmed tornadoes by Enhanced Fujita rating
EFU EF0 EF1 EF2 EF3 EF4 EF5 Total
0 15 9 0 1 1 0 26

May 15 event[edit]

List of reported tornadoes – Wednesday, May 15, 2013
County / Parish
Time (UTC)
Path length
Max width
EF0 WNW of Belcherville Montague 33°49′N 97°53′W / 33.81°N 97.88°W / 33.81; -97.88 (Belcherville (May 15, EF0)) 2233 – 2236 1.1 miles (1.8 km) 110 yd (100 m) Brief tornado caused damage to a ranch.[12][13][14]
EF0 SW of Priddy Mills 33°40′N 97°35′W / 33.66°N 97.58°W / 33.66; -97.58 (Priddy (May 15, EF0)) 2314 – 2318 3.4 miles (5,500 m) 50 yd (46 m) Tornado remained over open fields and downed several trees.[12][13][15]
EF0 SSE of Mineral Wells Palo Pinto 32°46′N 98°04′W / 32.77°N 98.07°W / 32.77; -98.07 (Mineral Wells (May 15, EF0)) 2341 – 2342 0.5 miles (0.80 km) 50 yd (46 m) Brief tornado with no damage.[12][13][16]
EF1 NE of Nocona Montague 33°50′N 97°41′W / 33.84°N 97.68°W / 33.84; -97.68 (Lake Nocona (May 15, EF1)) 2350 – 2355 1 mile (1.6 km) 200 yd (180 m) A mobile home slid off of its foundation, a few site-built homes were damaged, and several trees were downed near Lake Nocona.[12][13][17]
EF1 WSW of Sunset Montague 33°27′N 97°46′W / 33.45°N 97.77°W / 33.45; -97.77 (Lake Amon G. Carter (May 15, EF1)) 2351 – 2358 3.6 miles (5.8 km) 240 yd (220 m) Five homes were damaged, one of which was destroyed, a golf course clubhouse was destroyed, and many trees were downed south of Lake Amon G. Carter. One person was injured.[12][13][18]
EF1 Southern Millsap Parker 32°45′N 98°02′W / 32.75°N 98.03°W / 32.75; -98.03 (Millsap (May 15, EF1)) 0003 – 0019 1.95 miles (3.14 km) 400 yd (370 m) Tornado moved across the south side of town. Several homes and barns were damaged and power lines were downed.[12][13][19]
EF0 WSW of Illinois Bend Montague 33°50′N 97°35′W / 33.84°N 97.59°W / 33.84; -97.59 (Illinois Bend (May 15, EF0)) 0018 – 0020 0.9 miles (1.4 km) 150 yd (140 m) Brief tornado damaged a home and downed several trees northwest of St. Jo.[12][13][20]
EF0 E of Millsap Parker 32°43′N 97°56′W / 32.72°N 97.94°W / 32.72; -97.94 (Brock (May 15, EF0)) 0022 – 0025 0.5 miles (0.80 km) 70 yd (64 m) Brief tornado north of Brock remained over open fields and caused no damage.[12][13][21]
EF0 NNW of Bridgeport Wise 33°25′N 97°40′W / 33.41°N 97.67°W / 33.41; -97.67 (Alvord (May 15, EF0)) 0035 – 0037 0.7 miles (1.1 km) 25 yd (23 m) Brief tornado north of Alvord stayed mostly over open land and only downed a few trees.[12][13][22]
EF0 E of Dennis Parker 32°38′N 97°49′W / 32.64°N 97.81°W / 32.64; -97.81 (Tin Top (May 15, EF0)) 0053 – 0056 1.5 miles (2.4 km) 200 yd (180 m) Numerous barns and mobile homes were damaged or destroyed and numerous trees were downed south of Weatherford and southwest of Annetta.[12][13][23]
EF4 Southeastern Granbury Hood 32°25′N 97°45′W / 32.41°N 97.75°W / 32.41; -97.75 (Granbury (May 15, EF4)) 0058 – 0111 2.5 miles (4.0 km) 400 yd (370 m) 6 deaths – This slow-moving, violent tornado touched down on the west bank of the Brazos River. It then crossed the river moving eastward, before downing several trees and power lines and hitting the American Legion hall. The tornado then turned northward and damaged 97 out of 110 homes in the Rancho Brazos subdivision in Granbury, several of which were completely destroyed, and a few were wiped clean from their foundations.[24] Trees were debarked and vehicles were tossed as well.[25][26] The tornado continued north and quickly dissipated. 54 additional people were injured. All six deaths occurred in mobile homes.[12][13][27]
EF0 SSW of Aledo Parker 32°34′N 97°40′W / 32.57°N 97.67°W / 32.57; -97.67 (Annetta South (May 15, EF0)) 0105 – 0107 0.15 miles (240 m) 25 yd (23 m) Brief tornado with no known damage.[12][13][28]
EF1 Pecan Plantation Hood, Johnson 32°22′N 97°38′W / 32.36°N 97.63°W / 32.36; -97.63 (Pecan Plantation (May 15, EF1)) 0109 – 0121 2.45 miles (3.94 km) 300 yd (270 m) Tornado produced mostly minor damage in the Pecan Plantation community before crossing the Brazos River and dissipating.[12][13][29][30]
EF0 NW of Cresson Johnson 32°33′N 97°40′W / 32.55°N 97.66°W / 32.55; -97.66 (Cresson (May 15, EF0)) 0119 – 0122 0.2 miles (320 m) 30 yd (27 m) Brief tornado damaged a billboard and a few farm buildings.[12][13][31]
EF0 NNE of Evant (1st tornado) Hamilton 31°31′N 98°08′W / 31.51°N 98.14°W / 31.51; -98.14 (Pottsville (May 15, EF0)) 0134 – 0136 0.2 miles (320 m) 30 yd (27 m) First of two brief tornadoes occurring simultaneously with no damage.[12][13][32]
EF0 NNE of Evant (2nd tornado) Hamilton 31°30′N 98°08′W / 31.50°N 98.14°W / 31.50; -98.14 (Pottsville (May 15, EF0)) 0135 – 0137 1 mile (1.6 km) 40 yd (37 m) Second of two brief tornadoes occurring simultaneously with no damage.[12][13][33]
EF3 Southern Cleburne Johnson 32°16′N 97°30′W / 32.26°N 97.50°W / 32.26; -97.50 (Cleburne (May 15, EF3)) 0212 – 0223 7.8 miles (12.6 km) 1 mi (1.6 km) Large wedge tornado began to the south of town near Lake Pat Cleburne, and moved along an erratic path, damaging multiple homes near the lake, four of which sustained EF3-strength damage. Trees were snapped and uprooted, farm buildings were destroyed, and vehicles were flipped. A mobile home park in this area sustained some damage as well. The tornado caused lesser damage to homes in residential areas of southern Cleburne before dissipating. Seven people were injured.[12][13][34][35]
EF0 ESE of Cleburne Johnson 32°19′N 97°18′W / 32.31°N 97.30°W / 32.31; -97.30 (Cleburne (May 15, EF0)) 0245 – 0249 1.3 miles (2.1 km) 400 yd (370 m) Five manufactured homes suffered roof damage and several trees were downed.[12][13][36]
EF1 Ennis Ellis 32°20′N 96°38′W / 32.33°N 96.63°W / 32.33; -96.63 (Ennis (May 15, EF1)) 0505 – 0512 6.2 miles (10.0 km) 400 yd (370 m) Tornado struck downtown Ennis, causing considerable damage. 17 homes were damaged, four of which were left uninhabitable. 55 commercial properties were damaged, with 20 suffering severe damage. One person was injured.[12][13][37]
EF0 WNW of Ada Pontotoc 34°47′N 96°43′W / 34.78°N 96.71°W / 34.78; -96.71 (Ada (May 15, EF0)) 2334 – 2335 0.5 miles (0.80 km) 50 yd (46 m) A mobile home was damaged and several trees were downed.[12][38][39]

May 16 event[edit]

List of reported tornadoes – Thursday, May 16, 2013
County / Parish
Time (UTC)
Path length
Max width
EF1 W of Waskom Harrison 32°29′28″N 94°09′12″W / 32.4911°N 94.1534°W / 32.4911; -94.1534 (Waskom (May 16, EF1)) 1920 – 1924 1.5 miles (2.4 km) 500 yd (460 m) Several metal buildings were damaged and trees were downed. One person was injured.[40][41][42]
EF1 SSE of Waskom Harrison 32°27′49″N 94°03′23″W / 32.4636°N 94.0565°W / 32.4636; -94.0565 (Waskom (May 16, EF1)) 1934 – 1936 0.5 miles (0.80 km) 200 yd (180 m) Tornado caused minor damage to metal buildings, construction equipment, and a few houses. Several trees were downed as well.[40][41][43]
EF1 ESE of Greenwood Caddo 32°26′48″N 93°57′45″W / 32.4468°N 93.9625°W / 32.4468; -93.9625 (Greenwood (May 16, EF1)) 1939 – 1950 5.2 miles (8.4 km) 1,400 yd (1,300 m) Many trees were downed, several of which caused damage to mobile homes and site-built homes. One person was injured.[40][41][44]
EF1 NNE of Stonewall Caddo, DeSoto 32°20′04″N 93°48′46″W / 32.3345°N 93.8128°W / 32.3345; -93.8128 (Stonewall (May 16, EF1)) 2005 – 2009 2.5 miles (4,000 m) 350 yd (320 m) Brief tornado near a broad area of straight-line winds downed several trees.[40][41][45][46]

May 17 event[edit]

List of reported tornadoes – Friday, May 17, 2013
County / Parish
Time (UTC)
Path length
Max width
EF0 S of Athens Limestone 34°45′36″N 86°58′29″W / 34.7599°N 86.9748°W / 34.7599; -86.9748 (Athens (May 17, EF0)) 1900 – 1907 2 miles (3.2 km) 50 yards (46 m) Intermittent tornado downed trees and shifted wooden front porch pillars at a house. It then skipped northeast, where it ripped metal signs and siding off of a metal pole before dissipating.[47][48][49]
EF0 SW of Ardmore Limestone 34°57′17″N 86°52′46″W / 34.9546°N 86.8794°W / 34.9546; -86.8794 (Athens (May 17, EF0)) 1945 – 1946 0.15 miles (240 m) 50 yards (46 m) Very brief tornado caused roof damage to several houses and a barn. One brick house sustained structural damage to its bricks and foundation and several trees were downed.[47][48][50]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "NWS Damage Survey Completed For The May 16th Storm That Occurred In Extreme East Texas And Northwest Louisiana". National Weather Service Shreveport, Louisiana. May 17, 2013. Retrieved May 18, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Severe Weather Event on May 17, 2013". National Weather Service Huntsville, Alabama. May 18, 2013. Retrieved May 18, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Tornadoes Across North Texas May 15, 2013". National Weather Service Fort Worth, Texas. May 16, 2013. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  4. ^ Severe Weather Outlook at 12:53 p.m. CDT on May 15, 2013
  5. ^ Severe Weather Outlook at 11:38 a.m. CDT on May 15, 2013
  6. ^ a b c d Texas Tornadoes: As They Happened, The Weather Channel, May 17, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c Hood County twister one of the deadliest tornadoes in the last 50 years, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 17, 2013.
  8. ^ Cleburne mayor: Three EF-3 tornadoes damage or destroy 600 homes, WFAA, May 16, 2013.
  9. ^ The 16 tornadoes that occurred Wednesday defied predictions, The Dallas Morning News, May 16, 2013.
  10. ^ Thursday's storms brought 4 tornadoes to ArkLaTex, KSLA-TV, May 17, 2013. Retrieved May 18, 2013.
  11. ^ Friday storms across Alabama cause small tornadoes, heavy rains; wet weather expected to continue Saturday,, May 18, 2013.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "20130515's Storm Reports (1200 UTC − 1159 UTC)". Storm Prediction Center. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. May 15, 2013. Retrieved May 29, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s "Tornadoes Across North Texas May 15th, 2013". National Weather Service Office in Fort Worth, Texas. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. May 16, 2013. Retrieved May 29, 2013. 
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  24. ^ "Tornadoes Across North Texas May, 15-2013". NWS Dallas/Ft.Worth. May 15, 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2013. 
  25. ^ "Tornado-Ripped Granbury Continues to Recover". NBCDFW. Dallas, TX. NBCDFW. 13 October 2013. 
  26. ^ "Tornado leaves 6 dead, many homeless in town of Granbury". KTBC. Austin, TX. KTBC. 13 October 2013. 
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  35. ^ "Aerial views of Cleburne, Tx tornado damage". WWLTV. New Orleans, Louisiana. WWLTV. 13 October 2013. 
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  41. ^ a b c d "NWS Damage Survey Completed For The May 16th Severe Thunderstorms That Affected Extreme East Texas And Northwest Louisiana". National Weather Service Office in Shreveport, Louisiana. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. May 18, 2013. Retrieved September 9, 2013. 
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  48. ^ a b "Severe Weather Event on May 17, 2013". National Weather Service Office in Huntsville, Alabama. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. May 20, 2013. Retrieved September 9, 2013. 
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