Tornadoes of 1998

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Tornadoes of 1998
FEMA - 961 - Photograph by Liz Roll taken on 04-12-1998 in Alabama.jpg
Damage from the F5 Birmingham, Alabama tornado
Timespan January - December 1998
Maximum rated tornado F5 tornado
Tornadoes in U.S. 1,424[1]
Damage (U.S.) $1.72 billion
Fatalities (U.S.) 130[2]
Fatalities (worldwide) >130

This page documents the tornadoes and tornado outbreaks of 1998, primarily in the United States. Most tornadoes form in the U.S., although some events may take place internationally. Tornado statistics for older years like this often appear significantly lower than modern years due to fewer reports or confirmed tornadoes, however by the 1990s tornado statistics were coming closer to the numbers we see today.


The 1998 tornado season saw record numbers of tornadoes and also the most fatalities since 1974 (surpassed in 2011). A number of tornado events resulted in large loss of life. In February, a series of tornadoes caused 42 fatalities in Florida. In March, a tornado killed 12 in Georgia. In April an F5 tornado killed 32 in the Birmingham, Alabama area (no stranger to killer tornadoes). By year's end, 130 people had been killed in the United States.


Confirmed tornado total for the entire year 1998 in the United States.

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
883 382 116 35 6 2 1424


There were 47 tornadoes confirmed in the US in January.


There were 72 tornadoes confirmed in the US in February.

February 9–12[edit]

February 9–12
Tornadoes confirmed 25
Max rating1 F4 tornado
Areas affected Southeastern United States and Eastern Texas
1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale

A massive and rare February derecho affected parts of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi with widespread damaging winds and produced 25 (F0-F4) tornadoes.

February 22–23[edit]

The 1998 Kissimmee tornado outbreak of February 22–23, 1998, was the deadliest tornado event in Florida history. Forty-two people were killed and 260 were injured; seven tornadoes were involved in the event (max rated F3). The previous record for the highest tornado death toll in Florida history was 17 on March 31, 1962.

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
4 3 2 3 0 0 12


There were 72 tornadoes confirmed in the US in March.

March 7–9[edit]

On March 7, a colossal-sized storm system produced 15 Tornadoes across The southeast. In addition, heavy rain caused flooding in the There.

March 20[edit]

The 1998 Gainesville-Stoneville tornado outbreak was a deadly tornado outbreak that struck portions of the southeastern United States on March 20, 1998. Particularly hard hit was the Gainesville, Georgia region where at least 12 people were killed in an early morning F3 tornado. The entire outbreak killed 14 people and produced 12 tornadoes across three states with the town of Stoneville, North Carolina being also hard hit by the storms.

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
3 4 3 2 0 0 12

March 28[edit]

A tornado touched down at approximately 5:25 AM in the town of Mattoon, Illinois. Winds reached around 152 miles per hour and damaged over 90 homes damaged and eight homes and six businesses were destroyed. Tornado Warnings were in effect but had expired at 5:00 AM leaving no warning from tornado sirens or trained spotters in the field. Unusually, the tornado spawned at the back end of a storm instead of the front. At least three people were injured.

March 29[edit]

The 1998 Comfrey – St. Peter tornado outbreak was an unseasonably-strong tornado outbreak which affected the Upper Midwest region of the United States on March 29, 1998. 16 tornadoes struck across the region—14 in Minnesota and two in Wisconsin. Thirteen of the tornadoes in Minnesota were spawned by a single supercell thunderstorm. Two people were killed, and 21 others were injured. Most of the damage was caused by three tornadoes—one rated F4 on the Fujita scale that hit the town of Comfrey, Minnesota, an F3 that hit St. Peter, Minnesota, and an F2 that hit Le Center, Minnesota.

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
6 3 5 1 1 0 16


There were 182 tornadoes confirmed in the US in April.

April 6–9[edit]

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
39 13 7 2 0 1 62

The Birmingham Tornado was a tornadic event that occurred on April 8 striking the western part of Jefferson County, Alabama, near Birmingham, and continuing into neighboring St. Clair County. The Dunwoody, Georgia tornado was a significant tornado that tore across the northern suburbs of metro Atlanta late on April 8, striking parts of DeKalb and Gwinnett counties. The most severe damage was in the Dunwoody area, where the storm reached a high-end F2 on the Fujita scale, making it one of the strongest and most damaging recorded to have hit that area.

These tornadoes were part of a larger outbreak that started on April 6 across the Great Plains and ended on April 9 across the Carolinas and Georgia. A total of 62 tornadoes touched down from the Middle Atlantic States to the Midwestern United States and Texas. The Birmingham Tornado was one of only two F5 tornadoes that year. The other hit in Lawrence County, Tennessee on April 16, as part of the same outbreak as the Nashville tornadoes. The tornado outbreak was responsible for at least 41 deaths, including 7 in Georgia and 34 in Alabama.

April 15–16[edit]

The 1998 Nashville tornado outbreak was a two-day tornado outbreak which affected portions of the Midwestern United States, Mississippi and Tennessee Valleys on April 15 and April 16, 1998, with the worst of the outbreak taking place on the second day. On that day, at least ten tornadoes swept through Middle Tennessee—three of them touching down in Nashville, causing significant damage to the downtown and East Nashville areas. Nashville became the first major city in nearly 20 years to have an F2 or larger tornado make a direct hit in the downtown area.

In addition, the outbreak produced several other destructive tornadoes in Middle Tennessee. One of them, southwest of Nashville, was an F5 tornado—one of only two ever recorded in the state. That tornado remained mainly in rural areas of Wayne and Lawrence counties. Other tornadoes during the 2-day outbreak struck Arkansas, Alabama, Illinois and Kentucky.

12 people were killed by tornadoes during the outbreak including 2 in Arkansas, 3 in Kentucky and 7 in Tennessee including one in Nashville and three by the F5.

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
25 17 10 7 3 1 63


There were 310 tornadoes confirmed in the US in May. On May 7, a tornado outbreak in the Southeast spawned 20 tornadoes in North Carolina, including an F3 tornado in Clemmons and an F4 tornado in Caldwell County.

May 4[edit]

Two tornadoes hit Los Altos and Sunnyvale in California's Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley).[3]

May 30–31[edit]

The Late-May 1998 Tornado Outbreak and Derecho was a historic tornado outbreak and derecho that began on the afternoon of May 30 extending throughout May 31, 1998, across a large portion of the northern half of the United States and southern Ontario from southeastern Montana east and southeastward to the Atlantic Ocean. The initial tornado outbreak, including the devastating Spencer tornado, hit southeast South Dakota on the evening of the May 30. The Spencer tornado was the most destructive and second deadliest tornado in South Dakota history. 13 people were killed; 7 by tornadoes and 6 by the derecho, and damage was estimated at at least $500 million in damage. Over two million people lost electrical power, some for up to 10 days.

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
7 8 3 0 1 0 18


There were 376 tornadoes confirmed in the US in June.

June 2[edit]

The 1998 Eastern Tornado Outbreak of June 2, 1998 was one of the most significant tornado outbreaks in recent history over the east-central United States. This severe weather event spawned a total of 50 tornadoes from New York to South Carolina and caused an estimated $42 million in damage, 80 injuries and 2 fatalities. For portions of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, it was the second historic severe weather outbreak in three days, as it immediately followed the Late-May 1998 Tornado Outbreak and Derecho on May 30–31, 1998, which spawned 41 tornadoes over NY, NJ, PA and Vermont, caused an estimated $83 million in damage, 109 injuries and 1 fatality.

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
15 22 7 2 1 0 47


There were 82 tornadoes confirmed in the US in July.


There were 61 tornadoes confirmed in the US in August.


There were 104 tornadoes confirmed in the US in September.

September 24–30[edit]

The 1998 Hurricane Georges tornado outbreak was six day tornado outbreak associated with the passage of Hurricane Georges in the Southeast United States. Most of the tornadoes produced by the storm formed in the outer bands of the storm and were relatively weak; however, one F2 tornado touched down in Florida. The outbreak produced 47 tornadoes—20 in Alabama, 17 in Florida and 10 in Georgia—and was the most extensive tornado event in Florida history, with touchdowns reported the entire length of the state.

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
26 20 1 0 0 0 47


There were 86 tornadoes confirmed in the US in October.


There were 26 tornadoes confirmed in the US in November.


There were 6 tornadoes confirmed in the US in December.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "U.S. Annual Tornado Maps (1952 - 2011): 1998 Tornadoes". Storm Prediction Center. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved May 14, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Annual U.S. Killer Tornado Statistics". Storm Prediction Center. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved January 18, 2016. 
  3. ^ San Francisco State University

External links[edit]