SPC Stats

Path length: 2 miles

Width:  83 yards

Fatalities:  1

Injuries:  0

Rating:  F2

County:  Hillsborough

This quick-hitting tornado developed about a mile east of Interstate 75 near Riverview, 12 miles SE of Tampa.  It took 4 minutes for this tornado to travel 2 miles.  Most of the damage was to the Cowley Cove mobile home complex. Three mobile homes were completely leveled and two others were severely damaged.  Gary Lee Davis and three of his dogs died when his mobile home was lifted and tossed about 100 feet.  The NWS Storm Data entry states the home “disentegrated on impact”.  5 cars were damaged as well as several sheds and outbuildings.  The tornado lift in rural southern Hillsborough County.

Storm Data Entry

A short-lived but strong tornado touched down one eighth of a mile east of Interstate 75 and one half mile north of Big Bend Road in Riverview where it snapped a dozen tree tops. The tornado moved east and descended into the Cowley Cove mobile home complex where it widened to 250 feet and damaged nine mobile homes and snapped an additional dozen trees.

Three mobile homes were completely leveled, two were severely damaged, one moderately damaged and three incurred minor damage, all on Cowley Cove Court. One human fatality, a 50 year old male, and three dogs, occurred when the occupants mobile home was lifted up by the tornadic winds and tossed nearly a 100 feet from its foundation where it disentegrated on impact. At least five parked vehicles where damaged by the tornado along with several sheds and outbuildings. Most of the damage occurred along a 3/16 mile path in the Cowley Cove mobile home complex before it lifted, moved east and sporatically touched down in rural southern Hillsborough county. The tornado dissipated nearly two miles east of it’s initial touchdown north of Dixon Drive.

Of note, a parked undrivable vehicle that was in the direct path of the tornado had most of it’s contents sucked from the hatchback storage compartment including a removed 100 pound transmission.

Inspection of the vehicle found that the hatchback skin was buckled, bowed and pushed outward from the inside of the vehicle by the transmission casing that eventually smashed upward and out through the rear hatchback window.

Tornado Path

SPC coordinates (only one point since path is short):  Start: 27.83 / -82.30  

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

Images from the December 1996 Storm Data Publication

Cover of the December 1996 Storm Data Publication. It was in this mobile home that Gary Lee Davis was killed. The home was thrown 100 feet. The Storm Data caption notes: "There is no damage to the mobile home in the center of the photograph yet the twittered frame of the neighbor's homes lies on a few yards away."
Map via Walt Zaleski, WCM, NWS Ruskin, FL showing the path of the tornado.
Aerial view of the damage path looking east northeast.
A vehicle damaged by the tornado. The transmission in the foreground was originally located in the hatchback portion of the car. Per Storm Data, as the tornado roared through, "the unsecured transmission because a 100-pound projectile and eventually broke through the hatchback window and was left laying beside the car."

Newspaper Clippings

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