At the time of this writing, 2018 ended just over a year ago.  However, we haven’t forgotten about some of the biggest tornado events of that year.  Following in the theme of Tornado Talk producing a Top 10 tornado events countdown starting in 2016 with the podcast, in this Funnel Feature we look back at the Top 10 Tornadoes of 2018 as voted on by our Discord Server. 

#10: May 28 - Cope, CO

Path length:  Unknown

Width:  Unknown

Fatalities:  0

Injuries:  0

Rating:  EF0

County:  Washington

This beautiful landspout was also accompanied by a “twin”.  They caused no damage and their path length and width were not able to be determined as it was over rural areas.  An EF-1 tornado did hit the Cope Airport after these lifted, and caused severe damage to the Airport.  Tornado photos via Mike Charnick from the NWS Denver Summary of the event.  

Video via Live Storms Media (YouTube embed)

#9: December 1 - Taylorsville, IL

4-Panel of Taylorville tornado, 5:20 pm via NWS Central IL

Path length:  12.49 miles

Width:  900 yards

Fatalities:  0

Injuries:  22

Rating:  EF3

County:  Christian

This tornado touched down at 5:01 PM southeast of Morristown IL, where it heavily damaged a farmstead.  The tornado toppled hundreds of trees as it “curved northeast” toward Taylorsville.  Just south of Taylorsville the tornado slammed into Hewittville where it reached EF-3 strength with estimated winds around 150 mph.  At Hewittville, multiple homes were severely damaged or destroyed, including a mobile home that was anchored to the ground with wood posts set into a concrete foundation that made a basement and crawl space.  The residents of this home were severely injured and found unconscious buried in debris in the crawl space.  

The tornado strengthened slightly to 155 mph at the north side of Hewittville where a house was completely destroyed and many others damaged.  The tornado then moved through Taylorsville damaging homes, and taking down trees and powerlines and finally lifting 1.8 miles north of Taylorsville.  

506 structures were impacted, with 61 homes and 7 businesses suffering major damage, and 28 homes being completely destroyed.  Damage was estimated at $119,000,000.


NWS Central IL Summary, NCDC Entry

Severe tree damage caused by the tornado, from the NWS Summary
Aerial view of tornado damage in Taylorsville from the NWS Summary

Video via Kiah Lewis (YouTube embed)

#8: March 19 - Jacksonville, AL

Damage to apartments near the Jacksonville State Campus, from the NWS Summary

Path length:  35 miles

Width:  2000 yards (1.13 miles)

Fatalities:  0

Injuries:  4

Rating:  EF3

County:  Calhoun, Cleburne (AL) / Haralson (GA)

The tornado was rated EF-3 with maximum winds around 150 mph.  It caused extensive tree damage, damaged or destroyed many homes and caused damage to the entire Jacksonville State University campus, where several buildings were significantly damaged.  The tornado crossed Choccolocco Mountain and moved east-southeast across the heavily forested area “wiping out” thousands of trees.  It crossed into Haralson County Georgia, causing tree damage for about a mile before it lifted.  Four people were injured but thankfully there were no fatalities. 


NWS Birmingham Summary, NCDC Entry

Radar shot of the tornado as it crossed over Jacksonville, from the NWS Summary.
EF-3 damage to a house from the NWS Summary

Video via Live Storms Media (YouTube embed)

#7: June 13 - Wilkes-Barre, PA

One of the destroyed Plazas near the Wyoming Valley Mall, from the NWS Summary.

Path length:  2.9 miles

Width:  200 yards

Fatalities:  0

Injuries:  6

Rating:  EF2

County:  Luzerne

On June 13, 2018, a couple of supercells moved through Pennsylvania.  An EF-2 tornado hit Bradford County, in Franklin Township and a brief EF-1 tornado touched down in Cambria County, near Loretto.  

However, the most damaging tornado of the day comes in at number 7 on our list of top tornadoes of 2018.  This “catastrophic” EF-2 tornado struck a shopping center in Wilkes-Barre.  The tornado was rated as a high-end EF-2 with peak winds at 130 mph.  It touched down near the Wyoming Valley Mall and struck several shopping plazas.  Many stores were gutted as the tornado tore through them.  Several vehicles were destroyed at a car dealership.  23 businesses were heavily damaged or destroyed.  A sign from Dick’s Sporting Goods was found 7 miles away. 

The tornado crossed Interstate 81, roared up Wilkes-Barre Mountain, through the state Game Lands and lifted near Llewelyn.  Damage was estimated at $5,000,000, the costliest tornado in the State of Pennsylvania in 2018.  The tornado struck at 10:22 pm, and had it struck just three hours earlier when many of these stores were open, it would’ve easily injured many more people than the 6 people that it did injure. 


NWS Binghamton Summary, Article via Capital Weather Gang

Video via Access Aerial (YouTube embed)

#6: April 15 - Lynchburg, VA

EF-3 damage to a home in Elon, from the NWS Summary

Path length:  25.8 miles

Width:  600 yards

Fatalities:  0

Injuries:  12

Rating:  EF3

County:  Campbell, Independent City of Lynchburg, Ameherst

Number 7 on our list is the strongest tornado to strike Virginia during 2018. This EF-3 tornado was originally rated EF-2 by the NWS in Blacksburg, but after consulting wind engineers the rating was upped to EF-3 with peak winds of 150 mph. 

The tornado first touched down in Northwestern Campbell County where it produced EF-1 tree damage.  It intensified to an EF-2 as it moved northeast along Timberlake Road, flipping cars as it moved into Lynchburg.  It reached its peak width (600 yards) in Lynchburg, as it downed trees, damaged roofs on homes and businesses and it struck a trailer park.  

The twister reached a peak intensity of EF-3 as it ripped into Elon.  In Elon, dozens of homes were heavily damaged or destroyed, and one large, but poorly built home was completely swept off its foundation.  Many large pine trees were snapped off and de-barked/denuded in this area.  The tornado went up over Shady Mountain downing hundreds of trees, and crossed the Lexington Turnpike and tracked through Thrashers Lake Park before it lifted. 

In Campbell County, 28 buildings were damaged and 6 were destroyed.  In Lynchburg, 322 buildings were damaged and 34 destroyed.  In Amherst County, 166 homes were damaged, and 22 were destroyed, which would be all added 516 buildings damaged, and 62 destroyed.  There was $20,000,000 in damage.  This was the first tornado to cross through Lynchburg city limits since the official NWS records began in 1950.  This was only the third EF-3 in the National Weather Service Blacksburg VA County Warning Area (CWA).  


NWS Blacksburg Summary, NCDC Entry 1, NCDC Entry 2

Home in Elon that was swept away. From the Damage Assessment Tool.

Video via WSLS 10 (YouTube embed)

#5: August 3 - Alonsa, Manitoba

Path length:  7.5 miles

Width:  880 yards

Fatalities: 1

Injuries:  1

Rating:  EF4

Number 5 on our top 10 tornadoes of 2018 is the only tornado on this list to not be in the United States.  The Alonsa tornado was the only tornado in North America in 2018 to be rated EF-4.  This was the strongest tornado in Canada since the 2007 Ellie Manitoba F5.  From what we can find, Environment Canada does not issue PNS statements or damage survey results like the National Weather Service does in the US, however, the articles cited below were crucial for writing this brief summary.  

Most of the tornado’s track was through poplar forests and prairie grasslands. The tornado leveled and swept away two homes from their foundations, and collapsed the walls of another home.  Two cabins on the shore of Lake Manitoba were destroyed and many trailers and vehicles were reportedly destroyed.  An elderly couple were injured when their house was swept away.  77-year-old Jack Furrie later died of his injuries.  


Article from CBC, Damage Path Investigation, Faculty of Engineering, University of Western Ontario

Video via The Weather Network (YouTube embed)

#4: July 19 - Marshalltown, IA

Path length:  8.41 miles

Width:  1200 yards

Fatalities: 0

Injuries:  22

Rating:  EF3

County:  Marshall

Per the NCDC Summary, “This tornado developed northwest of Marshalltown west of the little hamlet of Marietta.  The tornado traveled southeast on the western side of the Iowa River producing extensive crop and tree damage.  The tornado strengthened quickly and took on a wedge appearance as it entered northwest Marshalltown.  The tornado tracked more easterly as it entered town producing widespread EF1 and EF2 damage.  The tornado went directly through the business district of Marshalltown with EF2 and EF3 damage to many structures including the county courthouse which lost the spire off the clock tower.  

The tornado continued east through housing areas before encountering the Lennox plant on the east side of town, producing EF3 damage once again. The tornado began to weaken rapidly after this point and dissipated near power plant located on the east side of town.  The tornado produced a total of 22 direct injuries.  An additional indirect injury resulted during the clean-up of storm debris when a tree fell on a man.” 

Another EF-3 tornado struck Pella IA, about 45 miles south of Marshalltown. 


NWS Des Moines SummaryNCDC Entry

Damage to the Lennox Plant via the NWS Des Moines summary
Buildings destroyed in Downtown Marshalltown from the NWS Des Moines Summary.

#3: May 1 - Tescott, KS

Ottawa County Tornado from Brian Emfinger via NWS Summary

Path length:  15.78 miles

Width:  880 yards

Fatalities: 0

Injuries:  0

Rating:  EF3

County:  Saline, Ottawa

Coming in at Number 3 is the May 1, 2018, Tescott KS tornado. This tornado touched down in northern Saline County and moved northeast into Ottawa County.  In Saline County the tornado produced EF-1 damage as it tore apart a metal barn.  In Ottawa County the tornado probably was probably stronger than EF-3 as noted by the NWS Survey, however, it reached peak intensity over a rural area, where it couldn’t hit anything to show its true intensity. 

With that being said, however, a trailer was blown away and never found.  A truck was thrown 300 yards, and there was also ground scouring, a detached garage was swept away and near the end of the track a house was heavily damaged as its roof and multiple exterior walls were torn off.  The tornado was widely photographed and videoed by storm chasers.


NWS Topeka Summary, NCDC Entry, List of May 2018 Tornadoes

Photograph of the truck that was thrown 300 yards and ground scouring, from the NWS summary
EF-3 damage to a house, via the NWS Summary

Video via StormLapse (YouTube embed)

#2: June 28 - Capitol, MT

Photograph by Roger Hill of the beautiful tornado, from the NWS Rapid City Summary.

Path length:  7 miles

Width:  880 yards

Fatalities: 0

Injuries:  0

Rating:  EF3

County:  Carter (MT) / Harding (SD)

This photogenic tornado, much like our previous tornado in Tescott, was probably an EF-4 however it only rated a “low-end” EF-3 tornado as it struck rural areas.  The tornado touched down in Carter County, MT south of Capitol.  It produced mostly EF-1 damage in Montana and strengthened to EF-2 as it neared the South Dakota border. 

The tornado reached EF-3 strength (estimated winds 136 mph) in South Dakota.  A house had its roof and exterior walls destroyed.  The most impressive damage was to a five-ton tractor that was shredded by the tornado and pieces of it were found miles away.  Other pieces of farm machinery were lofted and destroyed.  Heavy hay bales and several vehicles were lifted and never recovered.  Sheds and barns were swept away, and one even had its concrete foundation broken into pieces and scattered.  Trees in the path of the tornado were debarked as well.


NWS Rapid City Summary, NCDC Entry 1, NCDC Entry 2, List of June to July 2018 Tornadoes

From the NWS Rapid City Summary - shed that had it’s foundations blown away.
From the NWS summary, pieces of shed’s foundations that was scattered by the tornado.

Video via Daniel Kalbach (YouTube embed)

Video via Daniel Kalbach (YouTube embed)

#1: June 6 - Laramie, WY

Path length:  11.30 miles

Width:  600 yards

Fatalities: 0

Injuries:  0

Rating:  EF3

County:  Albany

Tornado Talk’s Top Tornado of 2018 is the June 6, Laramie WY EF-3.  This was easily the most beautiful tornado of the year.  The widely visible funnel was seen as far as 50 miles away.  However, the photos and videos taken close to it show the incredible beauty of the tornado.  The tornado touched down 3-4 miles west of Highway 30 and moved east crossing the highway, through mostly open fields.  It snapped many wooden power poles, several large steel galvanized power poles, bending them at 90-degree angles at the ground.  This coupled with ground scouring caused the tornado to be rated at EF-3 with 150 mph winds. 

The tornado moved into the Laramie Mountain Range and lifted.  A satellite EF-2 tornado touched down briefly 2 miles south of the main EF-3 tornado. This satellite tornado destroyed a well-built garage, caused tree damage and blew some shingles off nearby homes. 


NWS Cheyenne Summary, Damage Assessment Tool, Capital Weather Gang Article

Photograph from the DAT showing the ground scouring caused by the tornado

Video via James Hammett Storm Chasing (YouTube embed)

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