WX History: May 26th

1771: Thomas Jefferson recorded the greatest flood ever known in Virginia. The great Virginia flood occurred as torrential rains in the mountains brought all rivers in the state to record high levels. Click HERE to read Jefferson’s entry in his Garden Book.

1917: A major tornadic thunderstorm took a 293-mile track across parts of central Illinois and Indiana. Once believed to be a single tornado, the later study indicated it was likely at least eight separate tornadoes. The first touchdown was about 50 miles south-southeast of Quincy, Illinois. The tornadic storm tracked due east, before beginning a northeast curve near Charleston; separate tornadic storms then curved southeast from Charleston. The towns of Mattoon and Charleston bore the brunt of the tornado. Damage from this severe tornado in Mattoon was about 2.5 blocks wide and 2.5 miles long, with over 700 houses destroyed, while the Charleston portion was 600 yards wide and 1.5 miles long, with 220 homes damaged. Damage in the two towns amounted to about 2 million dollars 1917 dollars. Dozens of farms were hit along the path, and at least three farm homes were swept away between Manhattan and Monee. Another estimated F4 tornado touched down 6 miles south of Crown Point and devastated a dozen farms. A total of 7 people died, and 120 were injured. 53 people were killed in Mattoon, and 38 were killed in Charleston. Overall, 101 people in Illinois were killed during the tornado outbreak, with 638 injured. Click HERE for more information from the NWS Office in Lincoln, Illinois.

2003: A BMI Airbus bound for Cyprus from Manchester, England encountered a violent thunderstorm over Germany. The plane bounced and twisted violently as it ran into severe turbulence with huge hailstones pounding the exterior. A football-sized hole was punched in the aircraft’s exterior. None of the 213 passengers or eight crew members was seriously hurt.


May 26, 2003 Airplane
The picture above is from the AERO News Network.

2009: Northeast of Anchorage, Alaska, two hikers climbed a ridge to see a developing storm better. Lightning knocked the couple unconscious. Regaining consciousness, they called emergency services as the woman was unable to walk. The man’s shoes looked as though they had melted.

May 26, 2009 Anchorage lightning

Source: May 2009 Storm Data.


WX History: April 4th

1804: A group of tornadoes slashed a 120-mile path across seven counties in Georgia and one county in South Carolina killing 11 people near Augusta, GA. The tornado’s path through heavy timber was still visible some 71 years later as noted in an Army Signal Corps survey.

April 4, 1804 Georgia Tornado
The clipping above is from the Army Signal Service survey report from a tornado event on March 20, 1875.  They noted damage from the April 4th, 1804 tornado was still evident.

Source: Army Signal Service annual report of 1875.

1923: An estimated F4 tornado killed 15 people and injured 150 at Alexandria and Pineville, LA. 142 homes and businesses in Pineville were destroyed.

April 4, 1923 Pineville LA tornado damage
Main Street Pineville following the tornado. The photograph is from the Vintage Postcard Collection of Alexandria, Louisiana.

Source: Vintage Postcard Collection of Alexandria, Louisiana.

1966: One of the strongest tornadoes in Florida’s history moved in from the Gulf of Mexico and ripped through Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, and Osceola County. Damage was very severe in the towns of Gibsonia and Galloway in Polk County. 11 people were killed, and 350 were injured. The tornado was classified as F4.

April 4, 1966 Florida Tornado Paths
The tornado track map above is courtesy of the Midwestern Regional Climate Center’s Tornado Tracks Tool.

1977: A Southern Airways DC-9 jet crashed near New Hope, Georgia, after being struck by large hail. The hail and associated heavy precipitation caused the engines to flame out. Seventy-two people (including nine on the ground) died.

April 4, 1977 New Hope Georgia Plane Crash

1977: A massive F5 tornado moved across northern Birmingham, Alabama, killing 22 people and injuring 130. The tornado cut a 15-mile path from just northwest of Birmingham to the town of Tarrant. 167 homes were destroyed, primarily in the Smithfield Estates subdivision. Daniel Payne College sustained significant damage. At one point, the tornado was three-quarters of a mile wide. The tornado crossed busy I-65, tossing cars and trucks like they were toys. Other tornadoes killed one other person in Alabama and one person in Georgia that day.

April 4, 1977 Smithfield tornado damage
Damage in Smithfield, Georgia following the tornado.

Source: NWS Office in Birmingham, Alabama.

2012: Storms produced large hail over portions of western Arkansas. Hail was on the ground 11 hours later in some places.