Tornadoes of 2012

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Tornadoes of 2012
A graph of the 2012 United States tornado count
A graph of the 2012 United States tornado count
TimespanJanuary - December 2012
Maximum rated tornadoEF4 tornado
Harrisburg, Illinois on February 29
Henryville, Indiana on March 2
Crittenden, Kentucky on March 2
Marquette, Kansas on April 14
Tornadoes in US785
Damages (US)At least $4.8 billion[1] (estimated)
Fatalities (US)68
Fatalities (worldwide)81
Tornado seasons
2010 · 2011 · 2012  · 2013 · 2014
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Tornadoes of 2012
A graph of the 2012 United States tornado count
A graph of the 2012 United States tornado count
TimespanJanuary - December 2012
Maximum rated tornadoEF4 tornado
Harrisburg, Illinois on February 29
Henryville, Indiana on March 2
Crittenden, Kentucky on March 2
Marquette, Kansas on April 14
Tornadoes in US785
Damages (US)At least $4.8 billion[1] (estimated)
Fatalities (US)68
Fatalities (worldwide)81
Tornado seasons
2010 · 2011 · 2012  · 2013 · 2014

This page documents the tornadoes and tornado outbreaks of 2012. Extremely destructive tornadoes form most frequently in the U.S., Bangladesh and Eastern India, but they can occur almost anywhere under the right conditions. Tornadoes also appear regularly in neighboring southern Canada during the Northern Hemisphere's summer season, and somewhat regularly in Europe, Asia, and Australia.

There have been 983 tornadoes reported in the U.S. in 2012, of which at least 785 have been confirmed. There have been 81 confirmed fatalities worldwide: 1 in Poland, 1 in Japan, 5 in Indonesia, 6 in Turkey and 68 in the United States.



Map of all killer tornadoes within the United States in 2012. Only affected counties with fatalities are highlighted along the tracks.

The year began with an unusual number of tornadoes during January 2012. The first major tornado outbreak occurred on January 22–23, when a spring-like system moved across the southern Mississippi valley, producing at least two dozen confirmed tornadoes across Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama. As a whole, January was the third most active on record, behind 1999 and 2008. Despite this, a significant contrast in activity occurred for the month of February. Despite a slow beginning, the month of February ended with a significant tornado outbreak on the 28th and 29th with a strong EF4 doing significant damage and killing eight in Harrisburg, Illinois. Another ramp-up in activity occurred in early March, with one of the largest outbreaks ever recorded in the United States for that time of the year. This outbreak produced 160 reported tornadoes, and affected areas across Indiana and Kentucky in particular. Using the adjusted preliminary tornado count (85% of the total preliminary reports in order to remove overcount), 2012 attained record tornado activity on March 23 with 319 reports, eclipsing the previous record of 317.

A relative lull in tornado activity occurred in mid-March, but activity soon rose again by the end of the month when an EF2 killed one person on March 23 near Louisville, Kentucky. The beginning of April also started off active, with a tornado outbreak occurring in North Texas, including the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. An EF2 caused significant damage in the city of Arlington, where a state of disaster was declared. An EF3 also caused significant damage in Forney, Texas; despite this, no fatalities were reported throughout the outbreak. From April 13–16, an outbreak producing over 95 confirmed tornadoes swept across the Midwest, Kansas and Oklahoma in particular. A tornado emergency was issued for the city of Wichita late on April 14 as an EF3 moved across the southeastern portion of the city. A couple hours later, an EF3 in Oklahoma killed six people when it hit the city of Woodward just after midnight. One EF4 tornado was confirmed in Kansas on April 14, where it stripped trees of bark and destroyed a farmstead. On April 30, several tornadoes swept across Oklahoma and Kansas.

By contrast, May was much quieter than usual for what is normally the most active month. Several minor outbreaks were spread around the month but no major outbreaks and no fatalities took place. June was also quiet, although there were a few small outbreaks. These included an EF2 on June 4 that caused three fatalities in Diehlstadt, Missouri and a small outbreak in Florida associated with Tropical Storm Debby that killed one person.

The summer months were among the quietest on record as a persistent ridge prevented any significant storms from developing in the United States, as cooler air was unable to penetrate southward and was held into Canada (similar to February 2010 when warm air was suppressed into the Caribbean). July was very quiet with only 13 confirmed tornadoes. August and September were also generally very quiet as well, broken only by an active period after Hurricane Isaac made landfall, producing a sizable multi-day tornado outbreak.


United States yearly total

Unofficial totals through October 2; Official through June 30



There were 97 tornadoes reported in the U.S. in January, of which 79 were confirmed.

January 9–11

Radar image of the severe thunderstorm that spawned an EF1 tornado near Mission Bend, Texas on January 9

On the morning of January 9, a mid-level area of low pressure moved east-northeast across the Big Bend of Texas and triggered the development of a surface low in southeastern Texas before noon local time. Along the eastern side of this system, warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico was drawn northward and created an environment favoring supercell thunderstorms, though widespread clouds limited the extent of activity.[2] A line of strong thunderstorms developed in southeastern Texas around 9:00 a.m. CST moved slowly eastward. Only isolated reports of damaging winds and a few tornadoes accompanied this line and no tornado or severe thunderstorm watches were issued.[3] Five tornadoes touched down in association with this line of storms, one of which was an EF1 that caused significant damage to a home near Mission Bend, Texas.[4]

Developing into an upper-level system over the Ark-La-Tex region on January 10, the risk for more widespread severe weather was evident; however, only isolated reports were received that day.[5][6] Continuing eastward, additional severe weather was expected along coastal North Carolina on January 11 before the system moved into the Atlantic Ocean.[7] However, a severe storm developed in South Carolina and moved into western North Carolina, outside the area anticipated to support tornadoes, and soon spawned a tornado around 5:22 p.m. EST. Rated as a low-end EF2, the tornado tracked for 2.5 mi (4.0 km) and damaged or destroyed dozens of structures near Ellenboro. Ten people were injured by the storm. Continuing northeast, the thunderstorm spawned another, more intense EF2 tornado around 6:04 p.m. that caused extensive damage in the South Fork community. There, several mobile homes were completely destroyed and a few homes sustained significant damage. Eight people in the community were injured by the tornado. Another EF0 tornado touched down less than 20 minutes later before the event ended.[8]

January 17


As a line of intense thunderstorms moved southward throughout much of the Ohio River Valley and Southeast, many tornadoes were reported. The first tornado of the day occurred near Madison, Indiana, and was rated an EF0 on the Enhanced Fujita scale; only minor damage was reported. The second tornado occurred in Floyd County, Indiana, which destroyed portions of homes and trees; it was later rated an EF1. The third tornado touched down near Clarksville, Indiana, and was rated an EF0 due to the minor damage it caused. One of the first confirmed tornadoes on January 17 was an EF1 near St. Matthews, Kentucky, which injured a truck driver on I-265. The most significant tornado was an EF2 southwest of Scottsville, Kentucky that tore the roof from one home and destroyed numerous weaker structures. Another EF2 tornado destroyed a mobile home and badly damaged several permanent homes near Sandy Hook, Mississippi. A total of 14 tornado reports were called in this day.

January 22–23

A home in Center Point, Alabama mostly destroyed by an EF3 tornado

During the late afternoon of January 22, a particularly dangerous situation tornado watch was issued for much of Arkansas and parts of Tennessee and Mississippi. At roughly sunset, severe storms developed along a pronounced line in central Arkansas with the southern cells prompting tornado warnings. An intense cell developed near Fordyce, Arkansas early that evening with severe damage reported according to KATV coverage. A tornado emergency was issued downstream for Rison. An inspection conducted by the National Weather Service in Little Rock, Arkansas reveals that the tornado was rated an EF2. Several more tornadoes touched down before the storms reformed into a squall line near midnight.

Overnight, another round of tornadoes developed in Alabama ahead of the squall line. Early that morning, more very severe tornadoes hit the western and northeast parts of Birmingham. Severe damage was reported in those areas, as well as in Chilton County, some of the same places hit extremely hard by the catastrophic April 27, 2011 outbreak. At least 2 people were killed.[9] After an inspection conducted by the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, the tornado was rated an EF3, the strongest so far that month.[10] Across Alabama, insurers estimated damage from the tornadoes to have been at least $30 million.[11]

January 25–27


On January 25, several tornadoes were reported in Texas and Louisiana with a strong storm system that dumped heavy rain across Texas. One of these tornadoes, rated EF1, struck Austin, Texas and caused significant damage to homes and businesses.[12] Losses throughout the city amounted to $1.5 million.[13] A day later on January 26, four more tornadoes were confirmed and on January 27, one tornado was confirmed. Throughout the entire outbreak, 29 tornadoes were confirmed, however, all were weak.


There were 63 tornadoes reported in the U.S. in February, of which 55 were confirmed.

February 24 (Indonesia)

On February 24, a strong tornado struck South Sulawesi province in Indonesia, killing five people and damaging 98 structures.[14]

February 28–29

A shopping center in Harrisburg, Illinois destroyed by an EF4 tornado

A severe weather system that started in Central Nebraska and Central Kansas brought straight-line winds, golfball-size hail, torrential rain, and significant tornadoes to Kansas' midsection. There was a small confirmed tornado touchdown near North Platte, Nebraska. Late on February 28, an EF2 tornado struck the small town of Harveyville, Kansas near Topeka, killing one person and injuring 12 others.[15] The town's only church was completely destroyed, several homes received moderate to severe damage, and every building in the small community received a form of damage. Other tornado touchdowns were reported near Hutchinson, Kansas earlier in the day. As the storms moved into Missouri and Arkansas overnight, the threat grew stronger. At 3:00 am CST on February 29, Branson, Missouri was reporting severe damage to the town from an EF2 tornado with homes destroyed and several houses sustaining severe damage as the storms rocketed through the Missouri/Arkansas border corridor at more than 60 mph (95 km/h). Many people were injured there.[16] Three other deaths occurred in southern Missouri.[17]

The storms continued to grow stronger as they progressed eastward, and they impacted Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio on February 29. A moderate risk of severe weather was issued, with strong tornadoes possible. One was quickly reported south of Evansville, Indiana. An EF4 tornado slammed into Harrisburg, Illinois early that morning. The southern and eastern parts of the city were heavily damaged with one neighborhood severely damaged, another neighborhood leveled, and part of a commercial shopping strip destroyed. Seven people were killed by that tornado.[17] An 8th victim died several months later.[18] Other severe damage, due to two tornadoes, was reported in Middle Tennessee east of Nashville that afternoon, where three people were killed.


There were 225 tornadoes reported in the U.S. in March, of which 149 were confirmed.

March 2–3

Damage in downtown West Liberty, Kentucky from an EF3 tornado

A moderate risk of severe weather was issued for March 2 a day in advance for a large area from near Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Dayton, Ohio as an intense storm system tracked across the region in a very high shear environment. Intense tornadoes are possible.[19] On the morning of March 2, it was upgraded and a high risk of severe weather was issued for Middle Tennessee and central Kentucky, later extended into central and southern Indiana and southern Ohio. The Storm Prediction Center mentioned the potential for significant tornadoes. Multiple PDS tornado watches were issued shortly thereafter. For only the second time in history (the first being April 27, 2011), Dr. Greg Forbes, severe weather expert for The Weather Channel, issued a TOR:CON (short for "tornado condition index", a scale to rate the risk of tornadic activity over a given region based on atmospheric conditions) rating of 10; this time for the Louisville, Kentucky region.

Tornadoes began early; shortly after 9:00 am CST, an intense tornado north of Huntsville, Alabama resulted in severe damage to houses and heavily damaged a high school. A long-lived tornadic supercell also formed just north of the Ohio River that afternoon, resulting in extreme damage to numerous communities in southern Indiana, including Marysville and Henryville.[20] At around 6:00 pm EST, an EF3 tornado affected the West Liberty, Kentucky with extensive damage to its downtown area. By 8:20 pm EST, the Weather Channel was posting that 76 tornadoes had been reported, and the outbreak was not yet over. There was a final tornado-related death toll of 40 people—22 in Kentucky, 13 in Indiana, 4 in Ohio and 1 in Alabama. An additional storm-related death occurred in Georgia.[21]

March 15


As a weak disturbance moved across the Ohio Valley, energy associated with the system, combined with abnormally warm temperatures, led to the formation of severe thunderstorms from Michigan to the Gulf States, where the Storm Prediction Center had already issued a Slight risk. As the day progressed, isolated thunderstorms began to form and quickly strengthened into tornado-producing cells across the state of Michigan, with Tornado Warnings being issued for Lenawee, Washtenaw, Lapeer, and Monroe Counties. After surveying the area, the National Weather Service confirmed three tornado touchdowns on March 15 across Michigan.[22] The first was an EF0, causing minor tree and power line damage. The second was rated an EF2, uprooting many trees and causing minor structural damage 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Columbiaville, Michigan, 5 miles (8.0 km) northwest of Lapeer, Michigan.[23] The final was an rated an EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with winds between 135 to 140 miles per hour (217–230 km/h). This tornado impacted the Dexter area, where severe structural damage was recorded.[24][25][26][27][28][29][30]

March 18–24


Several tornadoes touched down on March 18 near North Platte, Nebraska. Two tornadoes were rated as EF3s. On March 19, several more tornadoes touched down in Southwest Texas, including one about 25 miles southwest of San Antonio, Texas which was rated an EF1. Other tornadoes touched down in Louisiana and Mississippi on March 20 and March 21.[31] There was even a small tornado in eastern North Carolina on March 21. On March 23, several tornadoes were reported across Illinois, Indiana, Alabama, and Kentucky, including an EF1 just south of Louisville, Kentucky. One fatality occurred with an EF2 in Illinois on March 23. On March 24, a weak EF0 touched down in Florida as the system moved eastward.

March 20 (Australia)

At 5 am, a tornado struck the Townsville suburb of Vincent. The tornado was accompanied by heavy rain, and damage was said to be "worse than Yasi".[32]


There were 233 tornadoes reported in the United States in April, of which 205 were confirmed.

April 3


Severe thunderstorms developed that afternoon over parts of the southern Plains. The most severe weather was in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex where at least 15 tornadoes were reported. Severe damage has been reported in the Dallas area and all the way to the Shreveport area in Texarkana region, with houses reportedly destroyed. Flights at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and at Dallas Love Field were grounded. Passengers and airport employees were moved into shelters as the storm system created multiple funnel clouds. In Lancaster, just south of Dallas, the Schneider National facility was impacted and semi trucks were thrown into cars and tossed in the air.[33][34] No severe injuries or deaths were immediately reported. The city of Arlington was hit with an EF2 tornado and declared a state of disaster shortly afterward.[35]

As the storms tracked east, an especially destructive storm resulted in very severe damage, including reports of an elementary school heavily damaged and houses flattened with an EF3 in Forney and reports of several other houses being damaged or destroyed with an EF2 near Royse City.

An EF0 was also confirmed in Caddo Parish in northwest Louisiana, where minor damage occurred.

April 9 (Turkey)

A destructive tornado struck a construction site in Elazığ Province, Turkey, killing at least six people and injuring seven others. All of the fatalities took place at a housing complex within the construction site in Maden. Several homes were reportedly destroyed nearby along the tornado's 11 km (6.8 mi) path.[36][37]

April 13–16


An impressive low pressure area began tracking into the Central Plains on April 13, and a high-end slight risk of severe weather was issued with isolated strong tornadoes possible. Central Oklahoma was hit by large hail and several tornadoes. One tornado caused damage in Norman, Oklahoma, where there were severall reports of injuries. Other tornadoes were reported in rural areas.

EF4 Damage on April 14th

For only the second time in history (previously for April 7, 2006), a day two high risk of severe weather was issued by the Storm Prediction Center. In the discussion, the SPC stated that a major tornado outbreak was likely across central Kansas and north-central Oklahoma during the afternoon and overnight hours of April 14. It was later expanded to include a second high risk area across much of Nebraska, where a rare 45% tornado probability was given during the morning update of April 14. During the morning hours, the high risk area was expanded again to combine the two separate areas into a single large one.

Several PDS Tornado Warnings were issued. Many tornadoes were reported, but most of them were in rural areas with little damage despite being considered "large and extremely dangerous".

An EF2 tornado struck and damaged the Greater Regional Medical Center in Creston, Iowa. The hospital was triaging and moving patients. A temporary hospital was set up at Southwest Community College.

A tornado touched down near Lyons, Kansas and produced EF4 damage in the area. At least four tornadoes were reported near Dodge City, Kansas. Other tornadoes began touching down in Oklahoma as well.[38]

Late in the evening, a long tracked supercell tracked across a long swath of south-central Kansas and into Wichita around 10:15 pm CDT (0315 UTC) causing damage across the southern part of the city and McConnell Air Force Base. The eastern side of Wichita was badly damaged by an EF3 tornado. Supercells were also responsible for several tornadoes just west and north of Greensburg, Kansas and Hesston, Kansas, towns that had been previously hit by (E)F5 tornadoes in 2007 and 1990, respectively. Just after midnight, a tornado entered the southwest side of Woodward, Oklahoma, killing six. This included four in a mobile home park.

April 29–May 1


A single tornado touched down in Oklahoma on April 29. After this, several tornadoes touched down during the afternoon and evening hours of April 30 across portions of Oklahoma and Kansas, where a Slight risk of Severe Weather was issued by the Storm Prediction Center several hours earlier.

A slight risk of Severe Weather was issued across two areas on May 1, with the first encompassing portions of Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and the second covering portions of Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia. Across Minnesota, a brief tornado touchdown was recorded, while numerous tornado touchdowns, funnel clouds, and wall clouds were reported across Indiana and Illinois.


There were 139 tornadoes reported in the U.S. in May, of which 121 were confirmed.

May 6 (Japan)

On May 6, an F2 tornado tracked through the town of Tsukuba, Ibaraki roughly 40 mi (64 km) away from Tokyo, Japan, killing one and injuring forty-five others. The tornado destroyed 40-50 houses and left roughly twenty thousand people without electricity. A second tornado, rated F1, struck Moka, Tochigi and injured one person.[39][40]

May 19


On May 19, a mini-outbreak of tornadoes occurred in south-central Kansas west of Wichita. Among the tornadoes were two EF3s, one of which destroyed two farmsteads just northwest of Harper, Kansas. The other EF3 occurred a few miles to the north and badly damaged or destroyed many wind turbines. A wind speed measurement at 300 feet (91 m) above ground in this tornado revealed 166 mph winds which is high-end EF3. Other weaker tornadoes touched down just to the north in the Spivey and Kingman areas.[41]

An EF0 unrelated to this event also touched down on May 19 in St. Petersburg, Florida and ripped the roof off of a motel.[42]

May 25


Two main areas of severe weather affected the continent during the evening of May 25. Several tornadoes were confirmed across southern Kansas, including an EF2 and an EF1 in Rush County near the town of LaCrosse. Another EF2 was confirmed in nearby Russell.[43]

Severe weather was also reported in eastern Ontario and southern Quebec where several funnel clouds and tornadoes were reported including one near downtown Ottawa.[44] Two tornadoes were confirmed from this event: an F1 in Mirabel and an F0 in Brownsburg-Chatham, both northwest of Montreal. A church in the Mirabel area was destroyed and several homes had roof damage. Silos and barns were also destroyed in the area.[45]


There were 116 tornadoes reported in the U.S. in June, of which 112 were confirmed.

June 1


A moderate risk of severe weather was issued for parts of northern Virginia, most of Maryland, eastern West Virginia, extreme south-central Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.[46] Several tornadoes, mostly weak, touched in late afternoon and evening hours for parts of eastern Virginia as well as eastern and northern Maryland. A tornado damaged over 100 homes in the Hampton Roads region of southern Virginia. Another tornado caused damage to several structures and some injuries in Harford County, Maryland. Strongest tornadoes were however rated as EF1. The tornado activity was part of the same storm system that brought heavy rains across the Great Lakes region which flooded parts of Toronto's Union Station disrupting subway and GO Train service in the rush hour.[47][48][49]

There were several tornadoes confirmed across parts of Florida and South Dakota as well.[50]

June 4


An isolated EF2 tornado touched down in Diehlstadt, Missouri late on June 4. It was only on the ground very briefly, but hit a mobile home while down, killing three occupants. It was the first killer US tornado since the April 14 outbreak. The tornado was embedded in a larger microburst.[51] A brief landspout tornado also touched down in Arkansas and was rated an EF0 as well as a brief EF0 in Texas.[52]

June 7 (Australia)

A damaging tornado tore through the northern Perth suburbs of Dianella and Morley at about midday. Winds associated with the tornado were estimated at 180 km/h.[53][54]

June 7 (Netherlands)

An F2 tornado touched down in the town of Montfort. Several houses were badly damaged, but there were no casualties reported.[55][56] The tornado only reached F2 strength for a short time; it was F0 or F1 during most of its lifetime.

June 12 (Italy)

Venice tornado seen from a window of the Venice Marco Polo Airport

A tornado (likely an F2) hit the east part of the city of Venice (Veneto, North-East Italy), notably the isles of Saint Helen, Saint Erasmus and Lido, and the nearby town of Treporti; no casualties reported.[57][58][59][60]

June 23–26


Several tornadoes were spawned from the outer bands of Tropical Storm Debby in the Florida peninsula. On the afternoon of June 23, at least one tornado touched down in Naples, Florida with significant damage reported.[61] Further tornadoes touched down starting in the morning of June 24 and continuing through the day across several regions of Florida. One person was killed in Lake Placid from an EF2 tornado there that damaged numerous houses.[62] At least 18 tornadoes were confirmed over the two-day period in Florida. The 10 tornadoes (all EF0) in South Florida was the region's largest tornado outbreak in over 50 years.[63]


There were 24 tornadoes reported in the U.S. in July, of which at least 13 were confirmed.

July 14 (Poland)

An unusually strong wave of twisters ravaged the northern region of Pomerania in Poland, killing a 60-year old man in Wycinki and injuring at least 10 other people. Winds associated with the deadly tornado were estimated at 200 km/h. [64]

July 24 (Saskatchewan)

Reports of at least four tornadoes across the Canadian province of Saskatchewan on July 24, an unknown amount of structures were damaged. This follows on two reported Tornadoes on July 21, 2012, as well as several more confirmed touchdowns earlier in the month across the largely, rural farmland of Saskatchewan. [65]

July 26


At least six weak tornadoes touched down across Pennsylvania and New York. The tornadoes all caused only minor damage to structures and downed a few trees. This was the most active day for tornadoes in July 2012.[66][67]


There were 52 tornadoes reported in the U.S. in August, of which at least 23 were confirmed.

August 4 (Scotland)

A small tornado touched down in the Strathclyde area of Scotland, most notably the city of Glasgow. No damage or casualties were reported. [68]

August 27-September 1


On August 27, a rain band from Hurricane Isaac produced a brief EF0 tornado near Vero Beach, Florida that damaged about 100 structures.[69] Two days later, on August 29, several weak tornadoes touched down across Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi in association with the landfall of Isaac.[70] This continued through September 1 as Isaac's remnants moved northward into the Midwest. Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois all recorded several, mostly weak, tornadoes.[71][72]


There were 43 tornadoes reported in the U.S. in September, of which 23 were confirmed.

September 8


During the morning of September 8 late in the 10:00 AM hour, a waterspout formed just off the coast of Queens and moved onshore near Breezy Point. Once onshore, the storm caused structural damage and downed power lines. Damage continued into Brooklyn before the tornado dissipated.[73] The tornado received a rating of EF0. [74] Ten minutes after that tornado, another, stronger tornado touched down in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, about 5 miles from the Breezy Point tornado, and was given a preliminary high-end EF1 rating.[75]

The storms were associated with a vigorous low pressure system that spawned severe weather across New England, Pennsylvania, New York as well as across the Canadian border into southern Ontario and Quebec. An F0 tornado was also confirmed damaging a 5-story building and nearby businesses in downtown Drummondville, Quebec. [76] as well as an F2 east of Napanee, Ontario which destroyed a trailer and a shed. The trailer rolled for about 30 meters [77]


There have been 6 tornadoes reported in the U.S. in October, of which 6 has been confirmed.

See also


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  56. ^ Montfort tornado video footage, tornado reaches maximum strength at 2:38
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External links