National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Tornado Destroys parts of Happy, Texas
May 5, 2002

...Tornado survey information for the Happy, Texas, tornado...
(see radar
animation and photos at the bottom)

Based on a joint damage survey by officials from the National Weather Service and Texas Tech University Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, the tornado that hit Happy, Texas, on May 5, 2002 was rated F2 on the Fujita Scale. The damage survey suggests wind speeds in the 115 to 130 mph range which places it in the lower end of F2.

There were two tornadoes in northern Swisher County on the evening of May 5th. The first developed at 6:30 pm about 5 miles west of Happy. This tornado dissipated just west of Happy around 644 pm, after causing damage to power poles and fence post. A second tornado developed shortly after the first tornado dissipated. This tornado tore a 150-yard wide path across the southern part of the city of Happy. This tornado moved east and dissipated about 6 miles east of Happy.

The second tornado resulted in 2 deaths and 4 injuries. The two fatalities occurred in a mobile home on the southeast side of town; the mobile home was rolled about 50 yards and destroyed. Four injuries also occurred in mobile homes that were in the same area.

Additionally, the church on the west side of town lost 120 feet of its roof and 30 vehicles, including two tractor trailers, were damaged or destroyed. Seventy-five utility and telephone poles were snapped. The tornado crossed I-27 and continued to produce significant damage east of Happy as it struck a home two miles east of town on Farm-to-Market Road 1075. Before crossing into southern Randall County about three miles east of Happy, the tornado produced major damage to a second home on Farm-to-Market Road 1075. Property damage associated with this second tornado was estimated at four million dollars.

Although this storm caused casualties, the National Weather Service strongly suspects that there would have been additional casualties had the integrated warning system not worked. The National Weather Service, in close cooperation with storm spotters, issued a tornado warning at 6:33 pm, 12 minutes prior to the damage in Happy. Citizens received the warning through TV and radio stations as well as from local tornado sirens. These alerts allowed many residents to seek shelter before the tornado struck.

Radar animation of the tornadic storm from 559 pm to 730 pm


Below are links to damage photos:

Far western side of Happy  (Aerial photo by Jody James-Note the damage to the roof on the church toward the right side of the image).

Damage to church; looking Southeast (photo by Tim Tinsley).

Looking West at the church (photo by Justin Weaver).

Aerial photo and ground photo of the far eastern side of Happy; 2 fatalities occurred in a mobile home that was moved about 50 yards and demolished (photo by Jody James and Justin Weaver).

Looking North in eastern Happy; Tractor trailer blown over (photo by Tim Tinsley).

Three miles East of Happy; looking South; major damage to the roof of a house (photo by Tim Tinsley).