National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Top 10 Weather Headlines of 1999

Contrary to popular belief, 1999 was actually one of the most destructive weather years this decade in our region. The year began on a stormy note, with two severe thunderstorm outbreaks and two ice storms in January. This was followed by a moderately active severe weather season in the spring. The severe weather season ended around the first of July, followed by a deadly heat wave that took at least 6 lives. Then came the most destructive event of the year, the drought. Hardly any rain was recorded at some stations during the months of August and September. A conservative estimate of crop losses in just the counties served by our office exceeds 150 million dollars. The following is a list of the top ten events in our area in 1999.

1. Summer Drought - Crop losses exceeded 150 million dollars. This was one of the costliest events of the decade in our area, even exceeding the Ohio River Flood of 1997. Total rainfall for the three-month period from July through September was only an inch and a half at Paducah, compared to a normal rainfall of about 10 inches for the same period.

2. July Heat Wave - Six deaths were blamed on intense heat and humidity - 4 in southern Illinois, 1 in southeast Missouri, and 1 in western Kentucky. Afternoon heat indicies frequently topped 105 degrees during the last week of the month.

3. January Tornadoes - During the evening of January 21 into the wee morning hours of January 22, a series of tornadoes struck southeast Missouri and adjacent portions of southern Illinois and western Kentucky. Although no fatalities were reported, a number of injuries occurred, primarily to residents of mobile homes. The strongest tornadoes were F-2 intensity (on a scale of 0 to 5).

4. March 14th Heavy Snow - An intense storm dumped 8 to 14 inches of snow over parts of southeast Missouri, southern Illinois, and southwest Indiana. A stretch of Interstate 57 in southern Illinois was shut down.

5. January 17 Severe Thunderstorms - A line of severe thunderstorms raked parts of southeast Missouri and southwest Kentucky with winds up to 100 MPH. Total damage was well in the millions of dollars, and at least 15 injuries were reported. One of the hardest hit locations was Fort Campbell (near Hopkinsville), where damage was in the millions and numerous injuries occurred. 

6. January 1-2 Ice Storm - The year got off to a rough start, as heavy icing glazed parts of southern Illinois and southeast Missouri. Up to an inch of ice accumulation downed numerous trees and power lines. The governor of Illinois issued a disaster declaration for the entire state. 

7. May 17 Derecho - A derecho, which is a severe thunderstorm complex, swept across the entire region. The concentration of heaviest damage was from southeast Missouri across southern Illinois, where gusts to near 90 MPH were estimated. Almost every county in our area reported winds of around 60 MPH or greater.

8. May 5 Tornadoes - This was one of the largest severe thunderstorm outbreaks of the spring, second only to the May 17 derecho. This was a relatively long-lived outbreak that featured different types of storms, from supercells to lines. Two F-2 tornadoes were spawned by storms in Pike County, Indiana. Wind gusts to 68 MPH were measured at Evansville.

9. April Flooding - Early-month thunderstorms deluged parts of the region with anywhere from 2 to 8 inches of rain. The St. Francis River in southeast Missouri jumped an incredible 24 feet in 24 hours, finally cresting at its 4th highest level on record (30.8 feet). After the initial small river and stream flooding, minor flooding occurred on the larger rivers, including the Ohio and Mississippi.

10. April 5 Severe Storms - Severe thunderstorms produced locally damaging wind over southeast Missouri. A single severe storm tracked northeast from the Bootheel area of Missouri across the Paducah area into southern Illinois.