SPC Stats

Path length: 30 miles

Width:  1800 yards

Fatalities:  0

Injuries:  16

Rating:  F4

County:  Harris, Liberty

The state of Texas had a total of 14 tornadoes during the massive November 21-23, 1992 tornado outbreak.  12 of the 14 where in the Houston County Warning area.  This summary digs into the strongest that occurred in this area.  It was an F4 that hit Channelview.

During my research, I found the survey information not only from the NWS Houston but also from Tim Marshall from Haag Engineering.  There is a discrepancy that I want to note.  The official SPC/Storm Data entry for this event states we have a tornado that traveled 30 miles through parts of Harris and Liberty Counties.  The tornado rapidly grew to almost a mile wide at Channelview with an intensity of F4.  After a about a mile at that level, it decreased to about 200 yards.  The Storm Data entry continues this tornado into Liberty County as a much weaker tornado (F1) and ending near Dayton.

Tim Marshall’s survey ends the tornado in Harris County in the Diamondhead subdivision.  He has the total path length at 12 miles and a width of 0.6 miles.  I could not find the Diamondhead subdivision.  It may no longer exist.  There is a Diamondhead Blvd near Crosby (Harris County) and it is very close to the track of this tornado.  

I discussed the survey discrepancy with Thomas Grazulis.  He believes this very well could have been two separate tornadoes: The F4 that hit Channelview and then a smaller one that tracked into Liberty County.  He will be updating his book to go with Tim Marshall’s analysis of this event.  

So, now that I have that out of the way, what damage was seen from the massive tornado?  Here is the analysis from Tim Marshall:  “The first damage was spotted just north of the Houston ship channel in a heavily wooded area.  From that point, the tornado moved northeastward, widening rapidly and increasing in strength.  The tornado crossed I-10 and entered several subdivisions.  Damage ranged from missing roof shingles to complete destruction of residences.  We found 14 homes with no interior walls left standing (F4), 88 residences with only a few interior walls left standing (F3), and 183 homes that lost roof structures.”

There were no fatalities from this event and 16 injuries were reported.

Storm Data Entry

Harris:

The most violent of the tornadoes to occur in this outbreak touched down at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Beltway 8 in the Channelview area.  The same supercell storm that produced the tornado near Hobby Airport spawned this tornado.  About a mile north of touchdown, the tornado widened to a little over one mile diameter and increased to F4.  After about a mile the tornado reduced to about 200 yards and F2 and stayed that way into Liberty County.  Over 200 homes were destroyed and up to 1000 damaged from this tornado.  The low number of injuries and no fatalities was truly amazing given the intensity and size of the tornado.  The track and damage was surveyed extensively from the air and on the ground by NWS and Haag engineering personal as well as emergency management officials. 

Liberty:

The tornado that hit Channelview continued northeast into Liberty County just north of US 90.  The tornado tracked over mostly open land but several farms and mobile homes were damaged just west of Dayton.  One person received minor injuries.  The total length of the tornado track from both Harris and Liberty Counties was 30 miles. This track was surveyed from the air and on the ground by NWS personnel.

Tornado Path

SPC coordinates are drawn in black:  Start: 29.73 / -95.28      End: 30.08 / -94.90

Used segmented county coordinates provided by NCDC.

Included the approximate area of where the Diamondhead Subdivision could have been.  This is where Tim Marshall said the Channelview path ended.  That is designated with a purple dot.  

I found a hand-drawn map from the NWS via spacecityweather.com.  It shows the area of F3 and F4 damage.  I have included that analysis below.  I compared that area with my map and highlighted with a red circle where that F3/F4 damage occurred.  

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Image via NWS from spacecityweather.com

Damage and a portion of the tornado path through Channelview. (Lance Wood/NWS Houston) via spacecityweather.com
F4 Damage along Heathfield Drive. Image via NWS from spacecityweather.com

Videos

Newspaper Clippings

Sources:

The Storm Prediction Center

NCDC Storm Events Database

November 1992 Storm Data Publication

Cluster Tornado Outbreak in Houston, TX by Tim Marshall 

Space City Rewind: November 1992 Tornado Outbreak

newspapers.com

Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 1341.

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