Path length: 26.09 miles
Width: 325 yards
County: Saline, Gallatin
SPC coordinates: Start: 37.6945 / -88.65 End: 37.7996 / -88.1926
Used NCDC County coordinates as well
Note: Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.
An outbreak of 35 tornadoes occurred across six states on February 29, 2012. During the early morning, a squall line with embedded supercells pressed through parts of Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. The strongest tornado of the day occurred between 451am and 504am CT.
This tornado developed approximately a mile north of Carrier Mills, IL. It moved east-northeast through the town of Harrisburg. The south and southeast portions of Harrisburg were devastated. 200+ homes and 25 businesses were heavily damaged/destroyed. At least 10 homes or other buildings were leveled. This occurred near a destroyed strip mall on the east side of US Route 45. The Harrisburg Medical Center was also hit.
The tornado continued to trek east of Harrisburg. It moved across Illinois Route 13. In this area, a farm home and a business were destroyed. Hundreds of trees were snapped/uprooted. The tornado crossed Highway 142 into Gallatin County.
Initially in Gallatin County, the twister moved east-northeast through open farm country. It then headed toward Ridgway. In the town, 140 homes and businesses were damaged. Numerous cars were tossed mainly on the east side of town. A large historic church was destroyed. The tornado lifted 4 miles ENE of Ridgway.
The NWS estimated the peak winds to be near 180 mph. There were 8 fatalities, all in the leveled homes in Harrisburg. Per the Southern Illinoisan, the victims were: Jaylynn Ferrell, 22; Lynda Hull, 74; Mary Osman, 75; R. Blaine Mauney, 74; Donna Mae Rann, 61; Randall Earl Rann, 64; Donald R. Smith, 70; and Gregory Swierk, 50.
Details via the NWS Paducah Event Narrative and The Southern Illinoisan.
Radar and Damage Photos via NWS Paducah
NCDC Storm Events Database – Saline County
NCDC Storm Events Database – Gallatin County
February 2012 Storm Data Publication
Note: There are some images/videos in our summaries that were licensed to us to be used only on this website. If you would like to use an image/video in your project or blog, please contact us and we will grant permission if possible.
Newspaper clips are embedded via newspapers.com. Please see their terms and conditions.
Would you like to see more summaries like this one? Support Tornado Talk on Patreon! Become a Patron!