21 Mar 1835 – Tornado – Eight were killed and many injured in one of the state’s most destructive tornadoes up to that time. It occurred in the southern part of Tipton County.
24 Apr 1908 at 3am F2 Tornado in Fayette and Tipton County – Two homes and three churches were damaged or destroyed at Mason.
29 Apr 1909 at 6:30pm 8 killed and 40 injured the tornado was approx. 100 yards wide and traveled 20 miles. F3 – At least a dozen small homes were destroyed in rural Crittenden County, north of Marion. Five people were killed in three homes. In Tennessee, 15 people were injured at Locke as the entire town was torn apart. East of Quito, Tipton County, at least three (possibly eight) people were killed in tenant homes.
29 Apr 1909 at 6:45pm 14 killed 50 injured in a 200 yard wide and f60 miles long tornado. F3 Tipton/Crockett/Madison/Gibson/Carroll – This was almost certainly a family of tornadoes, and probably in the same family as several of the preceding events. The tornado was sighted as it passed 4 miles SE of Covington, moving to the ENE, and destroying barns and small homes. From Bells, Crocket County to beyond Medina in SW Carrol County, the damage was reportedly continuous and severe. Six people died at and south of Bells (possibly two separate tornadoes) as at least 11 homes were destroyed. Five people died in Madison County, 5m S of Humboldt, and three children died at the edge of Medina. The funnel was sighted 9 miles N of Jackson. Many of the injuries to plantation workers were serious and some may have died.
29 Apr 1909 Tornadoes Map – The map of what was titled, “Tornado paths across Tennessee, April 29, 1909” as it appeared in the Monthly Weather Review for that month. After the early years of John P. Finley (1878-1883), few tornado outbreaks were mapped in any detail until the 1950’s. A few single major tornadoes, like the Tristate Tornado of 1925, were surveyed. This map is typical of the period in that all types of wind damage were roughly linked by long straight lines. This project found that the four mapped Tennessee “paths” consisted of at least 14 distinct tornadoes, 10 of which are listed here as significant.
5 Jun 1916 at 10pm 2 killed 63 injured in a 300 yard wide and f25 mile long tornado. F2 Crittenden, AR/Tipton, TN Moved NE from 2 miles N of Marion, AR to 2 miles SW of Munford, Tennessee. The tornado destroyed 20 or more homes on plantations in Arkansas, with one death and 60 injuries. In Tennessee, the tornado destroyed a house and barn, killing a baby and injuring the rest of the family. The nature of this event, as it crossed the Mississippi River about 13 miles N of Memphis, will forever be a mystery. There, the steamer or packet-boat “Eleonore” was hit by what the captain called as “electric tornado.” The boat overturned and at least 19, and possibly 34, passengers and crew drowned. The boat had tied-up on the western shore to ride out the storm when “trees began to snap” and “the Elenore was ripped from its mooring.” The 20-inch-thick tree that the boat was tied to was one of those that was snapped. the deaths are not counted, for there is no clear evidence that the event was a true tornado at that point.
Severe Winter Storms of 1917-18 (Statewide): Ice gorges along the Mississippi River developed rapidly and rose to twenty-five feet at Bessie and Richardson Landing in Tipton County. According to old river men, these ice floes in West Tennessee in the early part of 1918 were the worst ever in the history of river traffic on the Mississippi River. The ice tore steamboats and barges from their docks and moorings and sank several commercial and government vessels. During the same period, ice jams and dams formed on the Tennessee from Chattanooga northward to Knoxville and even up the French Board and Holston rivers.
An eight-inch snowfall in West Tennessee on December 8, 1917, was only a harbinger of worse times ahead. The ground was frozen for days as temperatures remained below zero. A record fifteen degrees below zero was reached on January 11, 1918. By the twelfth, the Mississippi River was frozen so solid at Randolph, Tipton County, that people walked across it into Arkansas. According to Don Porter, a TVA hydrologist/historian, teams of mules were driven across the frozen Mississippi River at Cottonwood Point near Dyersburg, in Dyer County.
A mid-January 1918 snowfall closed mines, businesses, highways, and railroads statewide. When trains could run, they were sometimes eighteen hours behind schedule. That year a so-called coal famine closed schools and businesses throughout the region. In fact, the coal shortage was so grave in Tennessee that Washington gave the State Fuel Administrator the most far-reaching authority ever granted under such circumstances to deal with the situation.
From December 1917 until mid-March 1918, snow clung to the ground in Middle Tennessee. At times the area endured rare blizzard conditions with heavy snow and blinding winds. Much of that time the thermometer hovered slightly above or below zero during the evening hours. Ponds and streams were frozen solid for weeks. In fact, they were so deeply frozen that no one worried about the ice breaking while ice skating.
All-time low temperatures were recorded across the state. December 1917 through January 1918 was the coldest overall period in recorded Tennessee history. Tazewell registered -29 degrees F; Johnson City -25 degrees F; Springville -22 degrees F; Jackson -21 degrees F; and Rogersville, Dover, and Kenton all dropped to -18degrees F. The mercury also fell to -20 degrees F in Trenton and -19 degrees F in Johnsonville, but these were not record lows. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Tennessee occurred on December 30, 1917, when the mercury dropped to -32 degrees F in Mountain City, Johnson County.
According to the February 17, 1993, Chattanooga Times, “The city [of Chattanooga] remained in the deep freeze through most of the rest of the month, and yet another cold wave was predicted on January 29. But rain came instead, causing the most sudden rise of the Tennessee River in history. The river rose 13 feet in 12 hours.”
From January to March 1918, Scott County endured very freakish weather, including a very rare sand-and-ice storm that originated out of the Southwest and was followed by an eight-inch snowfall. Gale-force winds exceeding twenty miles per hour placed two inches of sand and ice on top of the eight inches of snow already on the ground. This was followed by an additional four inches of snow and one inch of ice. This snow-sand-ice pack was as sharp as razor blades and severely injured the legs of wild and domestic animals walking on it. Trails had to be broken through the ice and snow to get cattle, horses, and other domestic livestock to feed and water. Rabbits were stranded and became vulnerable prey to man and predators alike. This perilous and frigid weather did not break until March. [See chart in image]
23 Dec 1921 at 5:15pm 2 injuries in a 150 yard wide F2 tornado. Tipton County – This reformation of an Arkansas tornado caused $20,000 damage at the village of Phelan. During the brief touchdown, a greenish funnel was visible, and two people were injured in the collapse of a brick store.
24 Oct 1925 at 2am 3 injured 2 miles long F2 — Tipton – Three barns were destroyed and two dozen small homes were damaged at “Mt. Carmel,” NE of Covington. “Giant forest trees” were uprooted.
21 Apr 1928 2:20am 1 killed 30 injured 200 yard wide and 20 miles long F2 – Tipton – Moved NE from near Tipton, passing through the town of Atoka, and destroying homes 2 miles south of Brighton and 2 miles south of Covington. Six stores, a bank, and 20 homes were “reduced to rubble” at Atoka, and one boy was killed. $100,000.
21 Apr 1928 A twister touched down at 2:22am near Tipton and traveled northeast toward Atoka (Tipton County), where it split and traveled toward the Mr. Carmel, Melrose, and Liberty Communities, all in Tipton County. In Atoka, fifteen homes and practically the entire town business district were destroyed. One person was killed and several injured. Several other homes were also damaged in the area.
7 May 1933 5:45pm 6 killed 20 injured 300 yards wide and 15 miles long F3 – Tipton – Moving ENE, the tornado “cut a hideous gash through the heart of the county.” About 30 homes and 75 other farm buildings were damaged or destroyed. Four deaths were in one home at the edge of Charleston. Two people died in a home 6 miles south of Covington. $75,000.
4 Mar 1964 at 10:30am 3 injured 200 yard wide 5 miles long F2 – Tipton – Moved NE from east of Brighton to Clopton, Mr. Carmel, and 3 miles SE of Covington. Twenty-five homes and a half dozen barns were damaged or destroyed in and near Clopton.
31 May 1967 at 12 noon 1 killed 1 injured 10 yards wide and 0.2 miles long F1 – Tipton – Hit Elm Grove. A parsonage under construction was destroyed. A carpenter was killed, and a workman was injured.
3 Apr 1968 at 945pm 4 killed 32 injured 1000 yards wide and 25 miles long F3 – Shelby/Tipton – Moved NE from west of Millington, to east of Atoka, near Brighton, and to 5 miles east of Covington. About 100 trailers in Millington sustained moderate damage to total destruction. Many rural and urban homes were destroyed or damaged. Two people were killed in homes in Atoka and two in Brighton.
3 & 4 Apr 1974 – Tornadoes – Tornado Super Outbreak of 1974 (see p. 69). Forty-Seven people were killed and over 774 injured in Bradley, Cannon, DeKalb, Fentress, Franklin, Knox, Lincoln, McMinn, Overton, Pickett, Polk, Putnam, Tipton, and Warren counties by a super outbreak of tornadoes. Some of the twisters reached category F4+ intensity. This was the highest number of tornadoes ever to touch down in Tennessee within a twenty-four-hour period. In terms of lives list, it was the second most severe period of tornadic activity in Tennessee history. In terms of number injured, it was the worst.
7 Jun 1974 at 11:45am 1 killed 1 injured 100 yard wide and 0.3 miles long F1 – Tipton – A cotton gin was demolished at “Mt. Carmel” near Covington. A man was crushed under one of its walls.
25 Apr 1975 at 1am 1 killed 1 injured 400 yards wide and 6 miles long F1 – Tipton – Moved NE from 2 miles SW of Gilt Edge to town, then to west of Covington. A baby was killed when a trailer was destroyed.
Significant Tornadoes, 1880-1989 V2 by Thomas P Grazulis