May 2003 national Storm Summary

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Jun 7, 2003, 1:05:00 PM6/7/03


MAY 2003

1st-10th...Thunderstorms rattled parts of the South on Saturday with heavy rain
and hail, and showers were scattered over large parts of the West. Low pressure
in the Southeast helped produce a cluster of thunderstorms that rolled eastward
across Mississippi and Alabama. East of Meridian, MS, hail as big as golf balls
was reported near the town of Lauderdale. Columbus, MS, reported 0.97 of an
inch of rain, and Evergreen, AL, had 0.80 of an inch. During the afternoon,
thunderstorms moved into the Florida Panhandle, and showers spread through
central Georgia. A few thunderstorms formed during the afternoon along the
Appalachians from north Georgia through the western edge of North Carolina into
western sections of Virginia.
Swarms of violent thunderstorms and tornadoes crashed through the nation's
midsection, killing at least 28 people in Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee. Eight
more were missing in this hard-hit town. Houses across the region were blown
apart by Sunday's storms, trees were uprooted and power lines and other debris
blocked roads. Travelers were evacuated from the terminals at Kansas City's
main airport and given shelter in tunnels. In Pierce City, not a home or
business was left untouched in the town of nearly 1,400, and wreckage made it
impossible to walk the streets. Two bodies had been pulled from the rubble of
the town's nearly leveled National Guard Armory. Officials initially feared the
eight missing were killed in the armory, where several people had taken
shelter. After sunrise Monday authorities had found no sign of anyone else, and
regional emergency official Glenn Dittmar said he was "99 1/2 percent" sure
that no one else would be found there. "I've never been in anything like this.
It was absolutely terrible," said Pierce City clerk Julie Johnson, who rode out
the storm in the armory bathroom. The storms were blamed for at least 12 deaths
in Missouri, seven in Kansas and nine in Tennessee, where tornadoes were
suspected but not yet confirmed. They were part of a large storm system that
rolled across the Midwest and parts of the South, and also spawned twisters in
Arkansas, South Dakota and Nebraska. Damage in Arkansas included wrecked homes
and businesses. Hail as big as baseballs hammered parts of South Dakota. By
midmorning Monday, thunderstorms moved quickly eastward through the Ohio and
Tennessee valleys.
In Tennessee, a state of emergency was declared in Madison County, including
the city of Jackson, where the storms damaged the city's law enforcement
complex and tore the roof off the National Guard armory. Nine bodies had been
taken to Jackson-Madison County General Hospital, said spokeswoman Jan Boud.
Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius declared seven counties disaster areas. Cars and
trucks were tossed into a ravine full of splintered trees in Kansas City, Kan.,
and several houses were severely damaged. In the southeast Kansas town of
Franklin, about a third of the town was wiped out, said Eldon Bedene, Crawford
County emergency management director. Dogs were brought in from Wichita to
search through the debris. At Kansas City, MO, International Airport, officials
stopped all flights
and evacuated the terminals. Passengers were ushered into tunnels leading to
parking garages until the storm passed. Missouri Gov. Bob Holden toured
Northmoor, a small town in Platte County, where 25 to 30 homes were damaged or
destroyed. The town's City Hall and police station also were damaged.
Severe thunderstorms continued Tuesday over the Tennessee Valley, with heavy
winds and rain in many areas. Several tornadoes, heavy rainfall and large hail
were reported in parts of Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia. Huntsville,
AL, reported more than 3 inches of rain and Chattanooga, TN, had more than 2
3/4 inches. A tornado destroyed 32 homes and caused 20 injuries in Henderson
County, TN. Thunderstorms also hit parts of Kansas, Missouri and Illinois, but
those areas saw relatively little rainfall. High winds knocked down trees and
power lines in Osage County, KS.
Strong thunderstorms moved over the Midwest and South on Wednesday, while
another system brought rain from northern California to the Great Basin.
Tornadoes were reported Tuesday night and early Wednesday in Illinois and
Mississippi. High wind and heavy rain also hit parts of Alabama, and flash
flooding was reported in the Tennessee Valley and the lower Mississippi Valley.
Other strong storms pushed through Ohio and Michigan bringing a half to an inch
of rain.
Severe thunderstorms swept across the Plains, while cloudy skies mostly were
reported in the Pacific Northwest and Great Basin. Over the central portion of
the country, isolated strong to severe thunderstorms were found across eastern
Oklahoma, Nebraska, southwestern Iowa, western Arkansas, eastern Kansas and
western Missouri. A tornado touched down in Oklahoma City as the afternoon rush
hour began Thursday, and several warnings were issued over southeastern
Missouri and northwestern Mississippi. Rain that has been falling for days sent
the Tennessee River to its highest level in three decades and caused damage
estimated in the millions. Alabama and Georgia continued to see rivers and
streams near or above flood stage.
Severe thunderstorms hit Indiana and Ohio early Friday, bringing torrential
rainfall, hail, lightning and wind gusts up to 60 mph. Findlay, Ohio, had about
2 inches of rain, and flash flooding occurred across the state. Several areas
had wind damage, including Carroll County, Indiana, where trees were uprooted
and a barn was blown down. Hail from the size of peas to the size of golf balls
was found across Kentucky and Tennessee, but the storm weakened as it moved
over Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and northern Virginia.

11th-17th...Rain and pockets of thunderstorms spread across the upper Midwest
and from the Plains into the South on Wednesday. The National Weather Service
posted tornado warnings for parts of east-central Nebraska and south-central
Minnesota. Lines of thunderstorms formed during the afternoon from eastern
Nebraska into western Iowa, across southern Minnesota into northern Iowa, and
from extreme eastern Iowa into northwestern Illinois. Severe thunderstorm
warnings were issued for sections of central and eastern Iowa. Showers spread
from eastern South Dakota into northwestern Iowa, and across Wisconsin,
southern Michigan, Indiana, western Ohio and eastern Kentucky. In the southern
tier of states, a line of thunderstorms stretched across southeastern Oklahoma
into southern Arkansas, and thunderstorms also extended across parts of
Mississippi into Alabama. Showers spread into western Kentucky and eastward
from Alabama into Georgia and parts of South Carolina. Farther south,
thunderstorms developed during the afternoon along the west coast of Florida.
A potent storm system crossing the southern Plains is responsible for some
severe thunderstorms in Oklahoma, southern Kansas and Arkansas this afternoon.
A band of heavy rain and some embedded thunderstorms are moving through the
Tennessee Valley. Other thunderstorms were reported along a frontal boundary
that is draped across southern South Carolina and southeastern Georgia.
Rivers swollen by overnight storms flooded fields and county roads Saturday,
hindering efforts to restore electricity to homes and businesses. At least two
traffic deaths were blamed on the rain and heavy wind that started Friday and
continued into early Saturday. Officials in five counties declared local
emergencies because of the flooding and wind damage, said Jennifer Gordon, a
spokeswoman for the state Emergency Management Department. At Harrisburg High
School, the storm blew the roof off the cafeteria during a graduation ceremony,
though no one was injured. In Crittenden County, 60 people had to leave their
homes because of the storms, the department said. Most of the roof of a high
school gymnasium blew off in Hughes after a graduation ceremony was over. The
National Weather Service had not yet confirmed that tornadoes were to blame for
wind damage at Osceola, and in Jackson, Saline and White counties.

25th-31st...Memorial Day was cloudy and wet for the eastern part of the
country. The showers, often heavy, began early up and down the Atlantic Coast,
preceding a cold front that stretched North Carolina to Texas. Rainfall totals
ranged from a half-inch to 1 1/2 inches across the Mid-Atlantic states,
particularly in North Carolina and Virginia. Almost 2 inches fell in the town
of Islip in eastern New York, and Philadelphia recorded about 1 3/4 inches.
Scattered showers and thunderstorms fell over central and southern Texas. The
highest amount reported was 1.63 inches in Georgetown, Texas.
A line of thunderstorms crossed the Midwest on Friday from Wisconsin into
northeastern Arkansas, bringing damaging hail, gusty winds and lightning. The
Midwestern storms developed early ahead of a cold front, with reports of hail
the size of quarters and wind gusts up to 60 mph in Iowa. The storms began to
weaken and move east by Friday afternoon, bringing rain to Michigan and
A low-pressure system brought cloudy skies and scattered showers to the Pacific
Northwest, northern Great Basin and northern Rockies. Severe thunderstorms
struck Boise, Idaho, producing gusty winds, small hail and brief downpours.

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