SPC Stats

Path length: 4 miles

Width:  300 yards

Fatalities:  0

Injuries:  28

Rating:  F1

County:  Palm Beach

Four tornadoes are found in the SPC Database for August 7, 2003.  Two were in Palm Beach County, FL.  The NWS Miami summary described this event as “unusual” for August to see such a strong tornado form in South Florida.  

From the summary, “The tornadoes apparently occurred with back-building thunderstorms developing along a sea-breeze convergence line reinforced by thunderstorm outflow boundaries from the southwest and west. The tornadoes also occurred in a very low shear environment, which is unusual because it’s harder to get strong tornadoes without shear in the environment. Therefore, in order to produce a tornado in such an environment, everything must come together just right including some interaction with a boundary of some kind. There are almost never cold fronts in South Florida in the summer, and the jet stream is almost always removed far to the north, so boundaries in South Florida in the summer are usually limited to thunderstorm outflow boundaries and the sea breeze convergence line. Even if everything comes together just right…it’s still quite unusual to get such a strong tornado producing such damage in August in South Florida!

The summary also stated that some of the damage was very close to being classified F2.  They estimated though that max winds were near 100 mph (upper F1 range).  This upper F1 damage was found at A Garden Walk mobile home park.  A total of 58 homes (most mobile homes) were destroyed.  Several cars and trucks were overturned.  There were 28 minor injuries.

Storm Data Entry

A SKYWARN spotter sighted a funnel cloud that touched down near North Lake Boulevard and North Military Trail.  The tornado moved south through the Garden Walk Mobile Home Park then turned southeast and crossed I-95, overturning a semi-tractor trailer.  The tornado proceeded east through Riviera Beach damaging the roofs of many houses and businesses.  Twenty-eight persons suffered minor injuries, 58 homes were destroyed, 21 homes suffered major damage and 150 homes had minor damage.  Several cars and trucks were overturned and damage was estimated at $70-80 million.

Tornado Path

Click Map To Enlarge

SPC coordinates:  Start: 26.80 / -80.07   End:  26.77 / -80.05    

The starting and ending coordinates are not correct when compared to the Storm Data entry and the NWS Miami summary on this event.

The tornado developed near North Lake Boulevard and North Military Trail and moved SE through a mobile home park.  This is all west of I-95.  It is noted that the tornado crossed I-95 overturning a semi.  The tornado dissipated in Riviera Beach just north of Blue Heron Boulevard and Old Dixie Highway.

The official coordinates have everything way too east and southeast.  

I found a track map via NWS Miami and included it below our map. 

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

Radar and Tornado/Damage Photos via NWS Miami

Tornado at Palm Beach Gardens. (Photo/Jeff Hooper) courtesy South Florida Sun-Sentinel via NWS Miami.
Damage at A Garden Walk mobile home park. Photo by Shannon O'Brien/The Palm Beach Post via NWS Miami.
Roof of Pepsi plant at Riviera Beach. Staff photo by Shannon O'Brien courtesy Palm Beach Post via NWS Miami.

Newspaper Clippings

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the January 1956 Climatological Data National Summary (CDNS) and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:

Path Length:

  • SPC/NCDC have a 23 mile path.
  • CDNS and Grazulis have a 29 mile path.

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