National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Top 10 Weather Headlines of 2004

  • The 2004 spring severe weather season got off to a slow start, with few severe storms until the last week of May. A series of severe storm outbreaks during the last week of May and June 1 produced widespread wind damage. Southwest Indiana, southern Illinois, and the Henderson/Owensboro areas were struck several times by widespread damaging winds and isolated tornadoes. Unlike 2002 and 2003, there were no tornadoes ranked stronger than F-2 in 2004.

  • The winter season of 2003-04 was relatively quiet. An ice storm in southwest Indiana, southern Illinois, and northwest Kentucky occurred on January 25.  One of the latest snows on record covered dogwoods and redbud trees in parts of western Kentucky on April 13.

The following events are ranked subjectively based on their overall social impact. News media reports are used to help determine the social impact. Monetary damage estimates are taken into account, along with reports of injuries or fatalities.   

1. May 30 Severe Storms and Tornadoes - An outbreak of isolated supercell storms and tornadoes occurred during the midday hours, followed by a widespread damaging wind event during the evening. All combined, over 5 million dollars in damage occurred. Dozens of homes were damaged. Ten tornadoes were confirmed, including two that reached F-2 intensity. One F-2 tornado caused major damage in Newburgh, IN. Damaging winds occurred in 56 counties in southern Illinois, southwest Indiana, southeast Missouri, and western Kentucky. No injuries were reported.
2 . .May 27 Damaging Winds/Isolated Tornado - A line of severe thunderstorms crossed southern Illinois, southwest Indiana, and northwest Kentucky during the evening. Widespread extremely damaging winds in excess of 80 MPH caused at least 3 million dollars in damage. In southern Illinois, two persons were injured when their camper was overturned. One person was killed and numerous others injured in vehicle collisions with fallen trees. In Daviess County, KY, winds up to 120 MPH damaged or destroyed over a hundred homes. The governor of Kentucky visited the area.
3. Dec. 22 Winter Storm - Record snowfall amounts up to two feet paralyzed much of the region. Drifts were measured as deep as 60 inches. The National Guard was mobilized to aid motorists stranded on Interstates 24 and 64. Several structures collapsed under the weight of the snow and ice. The timing of the snow provided most of southwest Kentucky with its first White Christmas since 1990. In addition to breaking 24-hour snowfall records, the storm gave Paducah its snowiest December on record. The snow was followed by record cold. (Photo by Charlie Kiesel).
4. October 18 Tornadoes in Southern IL - A supercell thunderstorm tracked east across southern IL, producing two F-2 tornadoes with a combined path length of 23 miles. The heaviest damage and two injuries occurred about 10 miles south of Marion, near the Lake of Egypt. Mobile homes were demolished. A trucker was injured when his rig was overturned near the junction of Interstates 57 and 24. Much of the path length was through the Shawnee National Forest. Other supercell storms occurred across the region, producing large hail. Several other weaker tornadoes were also found in southern IL along with a two brief touchdowns in KY and MO.
5. July 16 Flash Flood in Evansville - About 180 residences were damaged or affected by flash flooding that occurred during the night. Severe flash flooding of Locust Creek inundated a manufactured and mobile home park near McCutchanville. Over 150 vehicles were submerged to a depth of at least four feet, and 26 residences were evacuated by boat. Downtown Evansville reported an unofficial rainfall of 4.88 inches. Damage was estimated at nearly a million dollars. Image at left is a radar-estimated rainfall graphic.
6. April 24 Tornadoes in SE Missouri - Three tornadoes were confirmed in Carter, Wayne, and Cape Girardeau Counties. Five persons were injured by the F-2 tornado at Ellsinore in Carter County. An occupant of a demolished mobile home was seriously injured. The other two tornadoes produced roof and tree damage, but no injuries. All three tornado path lengths were 4 to 8 miles.
7. July 5 Wind Damage in Evansville Tri-State Area - A swath of widespread wind damage began near Carmi, IL around noon and extended southeast to Henderson and Owensboro, KY. Tens of thousands of utility customers were still without power early the next morning. Dozens of houses were damaged. A wind gust was measured to 63 MPH at the Owensboro Airport.
8. July 13 Wind Damage - For the fourth time since late May, northwest Kentucky was raked by widespread damaging winds. This complex of storms moved due south across southwest Indiana and the Pennyrile Region of western KY.
9.   January 25 Ice Storm - About a half inch of ice coated southwest IN, much of southern IL, and the Henderson and Owensboro areas. Some roads were closed and/or nearly impassable. Tree limbs were downed, causing scattered power outages. (Photo courtesy of Norm Bredenkamp).
10. Snowstorm on February 5 - Three to five inches of snow blanketed most of southern Illinois and southeast Missouri. The snow fell at a rapid rate just before sunrise, causing a messy morning commute. Most schools were closed.

Have a safe and happy 2005!