Path length: 2 miles

Width:  83 yards

Fatalities:  1

Injuries:  0

Rating:  F2

County:  Hillsborough

Tornado Path

SPC coordinates:  Start: 27.83 / -82.30 


This quick-hitting tornado developed just east of Interstate 75 near Riverview, 12 miles SE of Tampa.  It took four minutes for this tornado to travel two miles.

Most of the damage was to the Cowley Cove mobile home complex. A total of nine mobile homes had some degree of damage.  Three of the 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”.

Five parked cars were damaged as well as several sheds and outbuildings.  The tornado lift in rural southern Hillsborough County.

Per Storm Data, “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.”

In Loving Memory

Gary Lee Davis, 49

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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