May 6, 2003 Tornado Outbreak
Radar velocity image from Paducah radar, showing tornado signature in Massac County, IL

The night of May 6, 2003 will long be remembered in southern Illinois, southeast Missouri, and western Kentucky for the devastation, injuries, and two fatalities wrought by a series of tornadoes.  See the map below for tornado tracks and intensities for the entire outbreak. Click on map for full-size view.

The strongest, most destructive, and deadliest tornado of the night  was rated F-4, with peak winds near 210 MPH. This tornado tracked 33 miles across the southernmost counties of Illinois (see map above). Below are damage photos from this tornado, which claimed two lives and injured dozens more. The first two photos are of a permanent home near Hillerman in western Massac County that was swept clean off its foundation. The occupants of this home survived.

The occupant of a mobile home in the same area was not as fortunate. The first photo below shows the frame of the mobile home wrapped around two trees that were stripped of all their limbs. The second photo shows part of an overturned train between Hillerman and the Mermet Lake Conservation Area, located just west of U.S. Route 45.

* Additional information on the F-4 tornado in southern Illinois: Ground damage photos / Radar images / Initial storm assessment


The next most intense tornado of the night, and the only other tornado rated stronger than F-2, struck the southeast Missouri city of Jackson in Cape Girardeau County. This F-3 tornado tore through the center of Jackson, causing over 10 million dollars damage in the city.

Additional information on the Jackson, Missouri tornado: Initial storm assessment


Event Overview:

* Specific details of each F-2 or stronger tornado 

* Preliminary Storm Data report for the month of May, 2003  (pdf format)

 * National Weather Service products that were issued for this tornado outbreak: SPC Convective Outlook / Tornado Watch

Information on other tornadoes
  Map of Tornado Paths
Initial assessments of weaker tornadoes 

Hickman, Graves Co. KY (F1 tornado)
McCracken Co. KY (F0 tornado)
Graves Co. KY (F1 tornado)
Union, Henderson Co. KY (F1 tornado)
McCracken Co. KY (F1 tornado)
Eastern Cape Girardeau Co. MO (F1 tornado)
Scott Co. MO (F1 tornado)
Marshall Co. KY (F0 and F1 tornadoes)

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