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Top 10 Headlines of the Decade: 2000-09

  • The past decade contained some of the most tragic weather events in recent memory.  While a series of killer tornadoes grabbed headlines in 2002, 2003, and 2005, winter weather took the spotlight in 2004 and 2009. Of particular note in 2008 and 2009 were several major windstorms, a few of which originated from atypical meteorological situations. These included a decaying tropical system (Ike) in 2008 and the southern Illinois windstorm in May of '09.  
  • A variety of records were set, including 24-hour rainfall, 24-hour snowfall, and tornado records.
  • Precipitation records were not the only ones that fell. From the coldest December (2000, Paducah) to the hottest August (2007, Paducah), we witnessed an equally impressive range of extreme temperatures.

The following weather events were ranked according to the responses of seventy participants of an informal, unscientific survey. The participants consisted mainly of meteorologists, emergency management officials, and trained spotters. The participants represented a broad geographical cross-section of the Paducah office's service area.

 1. Photo of tornado, courtesy of Deaconess Women's Hospital in Evansville Jan., 2009 Ice Storm - In terms of socioeconomic impact and disruption of lives, the Ice Storm of '09 was the weather event of the decade. The ice storm resulted in record power outages in western Kentucky, parts of southeast Missouri, and the southernmost counties of Illinois. Preliminary damage estimates were in the neighborhood of one-half billion dollars in the Paducah National Weather Service forecast area. There were fourteen known fatalities either directly or indirectly related to the storm in western Kentucky and southeast Missouri. Heavy sleet accumulations across much of southern Illinois and parts of southeast Missouri caused dozens of roof collapses. Average score: 1.8. (Photo of Paducah NWS radar, courtesy of Beau Dodson)

Photo of tornado, courtesy of Deaconess Women's Hospital in Evansville 2. Nov., 2005 Evansville Area Tornado - The deadliest tornado in Indiana since 1974 took the lives of two dozen persons in the middle of the night. About 200 others were injured. A mobile home park on the southern outskirts of Evansville suffered the vast majority of the fatalities and injuries. This F-3 tornado crossed the Ohio River three times during its 41-mile trek across three Ohio River counties of southwest Indiana as well as Henderson County, KY. Average score: 3.6. (Photo courtesy of Deaconess Women's Hospital in Evansville) 
Photo of tree on house in Mayfield, KY

3. Sept. '08: Remnants of Ike - Wind gusts up to hurricane force over a period of several hours damaged hundreds of roofs and caused widespread power outages. The extensive tree damage caused by Ike would pale in comparison to the ice storm to follow in January of 2009. Ike set a new record for power outages for the state of Kentucky, only to be eclipsed by the ice storm several months later. About 50 people were injured, mostly by falling trees. Average score: 5.7. (Photo courtesy of Tony Crouch, Mayfield, KY). 

Aerial photo of damage taken by NWS staff4. April, 2002 Tornadoes - Three separate tornado outbreaks on the 21st, 24th, and 28th collectively killed three and injured over 100 people. The nation's first tornado fatality of 2002 occurred in Wayne County, IL on the 21st. On the 24th, a long-track tornado across Carter and Butler Counties in Missouri produced F-4 damage near Poplar Bluff. A tornado outbreak in the wee morning hours of April 28 was the result of a single supercell that tracked across Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky. Average score: 5.8. (Aerial damage photo by NWS Paducah staff).

Damage photo taken near Madisonville, KY showing near total destruction5. Nov. 15, 2005 Tornadoes  - Just a couple weeks after the tragic Evansville tornado, the strongest fall tornado on record in the Paducah NWS forecast area struck the Madisonville, KY area. This F-4 tornado, which was the strongest of 2005 in the United States, injured about two dozen people and destroyed about 150 buildings on its 15-mile path. Another long-track tornado killed one person in Marshall County, KY. This F-3 tornado tracked 44 miles from Graves County to Lyon County, KY.  Average score: 5.99. Photo taken by NWS staff near Madisonville, KY.

Photo of Hurricane Creek bridge near the Big Muddy River6. March, 2008 Historic Flooding - Southeast Missouri and southern Illinois bore the brunt of this record rainfall event. A 24-hour rainfall record was set at Cape Girardeau, where a foot of rain fell in less than 36 hours. Dozens of flood victims were airlifted by Coast Guard helicopters. Record flooding of the Black River inundated large parts of Poplar Bluff. There were three fatalities and tens of millions of dollars in damage. Average score: 6.04. Photo of bridge on Hurricane Creek near Carterville, IL (courtesy of Ken Curry).

Aerial photo of demolished mobile homes in Massac County, IL 7. May 6, 2003 Tornadoes - A total of 21 tornadoes occurred during the evening. Two persons were killed in an F-4 tornado that tracked 33 miles along the Ohio River Valley in extreme southern Illinois. Near Cape Girardeau, Missouri, the city of Jackson was struck directly by an F-3 tornado that caused well over 10 million dollars in damage. Average score: 6.1. (Aerial photo of demolished mobile homes in Massac County, IL by NWS staff).
Photo of snow-clogged Indiana 168 near Fort Branch, IN

8. Dec. 22, '04 Snowstorm - Near-blizzard conditions and record 24-hour snowfall paralyzed travel just a few days before Christmas. Gusty winds piled one to two feet of snow into drifts up to five feet deep. Large sections of Interstate 24 in western Kentucky and Interstate 64 in southwest Indiana were closed or impassable for days. The National Guard was mobilized to rescue over 1,000 motorists stranded on the roads. Average score: 6.3. Photo of snow-clogged Indiana Route 168 near Fort Branch, IN (courtesy of Charlie Kiesel).

Photo of damaged building in Carrier Mills, IL

 9. May 8, '09 Southern IL/SE Missouri Windstorm - An extremely damaging, mesoscale wind event known as a derecho tore a path of destruction from Perry and northern Bollinger Counties of Missouri east across the Marion/Carbondale area to near Harrisburg, IL. Frequent, widespread gusts from 80 to 110 mph damaged over 10,000 homes in Williamson County alone.  One fatality and numerous injuries were reported. The power outages and tree damage resulting from this storm were comparable to the January, 2009 ice storm in western KY. Average score: 6.6. Photo taken in Carrier Mills, IL by NWS Paducah staff. 

Photo of heavily damaged building and vehicles in Owensboro10. Jan. 3, 2000 Owensboro Tornado - Only three days into the new decade, two F-3 tornadoes struck northwest Kentucky late in the afternoon. Owensboro, KY sustained severe damage. About 100 homes were destroyed, another 700 received major damage, and a total of roughly 2,000 homes received at least minor damage. About 18 persons were injured. The other F-3 tornado occurred in Crittenden and Webster Counties of KY. Average score: 8.1. Photo taken by NWS Paducah staff.    

Have a safe and happy decade: 2010-2019!