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The 1988 Superstorm was one of the worst 'superstorms' to ever hit, and is the #1 worst storm outbreak in any winter month. The storm was actually an entire line of at least 23 extropical cyclones, all of which produced at least 3 twisters each, and Storm U [or Storm 21, the one on 13 February] was among the worst of those extropical cyclones.

Areas Affected

All coastal states within the eastern/middle part [except for Texas, ironically enough] were affected by the extropical cyclones. The tornados lasted from 31 January to 16 February--a full 17 days straight! The storm, however, still took its toll on northern states after the tornadoes were officially done. It brought several torrential blizzards in areas like Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Ohio, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, New Hampshire, and especially Massachusetts. Other than twisters, this storm also brought torrential rain in areas like Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas. The storm system then split into multiple storms after 15 February, but then, it still kept producing twisters. Multiple strong tornadoes were reported, especially the most damaging tornado in Florida in terms of damage as of 1988, and also the deadliest in the entire outbreak for that one too. That twister was known as the Myakka City 1988 Supertornado. Now, that tornado was seriously considered to be rated an F4 because of F4 damage to multiple strong structures, but further analysis revealed that most of the F4 and possible F5 damage was because of multiple debris pieces hitting it from a few hundred feet outside of that tornado, thus weakening the structure as a whole. But stronger tornadoes did happen on multiple other days, like the photogenic small but rather violent 300-metre rope F5 in Ocala on 4 February.

Tornado Statistics

More than 225 tornadoes claimed at least 200 fatalities and over 6,500 injuries. This included three F5s and eleven F4s, as more than half of the tornadoes were in Florida. This bypassed the average between 1950 and 1990 of 42 twisters per year, and that was the entire reason, along with at least 44 other tornadoes in 1988 in Florida as well, only one being rated anything higher than F1 [that one was an F4 tornado], combining into at least 166 tornadoes for Florida within the entire year as well.

Tornado Totals By State

Florida

Confirmed
Total
Confirmed
F0
Confirmed
F1
Confirmed
F2
Confirmed
F3
Confirmed
F4
Confirmed
F5
122 47 [5 anticyclonic] 29 21 [3 anticyclonic] 17 7 1



Georgia

Confirmed
Total
Confirmed
F0
Confirmed
F1
Confirmed
F2
Confirmed
F3
Confirmed
F4
Confirmed
F5
19 13 1 3 1 1 0



Tennessee

Confirmed
Total
Confirmed
F0
Confirmed
F1
Confirmed
F2
Confirmed
F3
Confirmed
F4
Confirmed
F5
23 14 2 3 2 1 1



South Carolina

Confirmed
Total
Confirmed
F0
Confirmed
F1
Confirmed
F2
Confirmed
F3
Confirmed
F4
Confirmed
F5
45 33 2 6 2 1 1 [anticyclonic]



North Carolina

Confirmed
Total
Confirmed
F0
Confirmed
F1
Confirmed
F2
Confirmed
F3
Confirmed
F4
Confirmed
F5
14 7 1 3 3 0 0



Alabama

Confirmed
Total
Confirmed
F0
Confirmed
F1
Confirmed
F2
Confirmed
F3
Confirmed
F4
Confirmed
F5
6 3 0 1 1 1 0



Combined Tornadoes

Confirmed
Total
Confirmed
F0
Confirmed
F1
Confirmed
F2
Confirmed
F3
Confirmed
F4
Confirmed
F5
229 117 35 37 26 11 3



January 31st

Cullman, Alabama Tornado

F3 tornado
Tornado 12.jpg
Duration 10:36 AM EDT – 11:04 AM EDT
Intensity 320 km/h (200 mph) (1-min)

This rope F3 tornado tracked into Cullman, Alabama, and was one of the very first tornadoes of the outbreak that wasn't any lower than F2 rating. It was also the first tornado in the outbreak. The tornado formed 5 miles west of Cullman at 10:35 AM, and gained intensity as it plowed through ground at 20 miles an hour. Most of the farmland was entirely stripped of its crops it had originally grown, as at least 20 barns were completely shredded. It was also one of only 3 tornadoes F3 or above to achieve an anticyclonic title. It finally hit Cullman at 10:52 AM, slammed into multiple subdivisions, and left multiple vehicles totaled, several homes leveled. The tornado took a direct hit on the downtown area, and left a total of 16 businesses affected, and 62 other buildings completely leveled or collapsed. At least 30 industrial buildings were either entirely shredded apart, collapsed, or completely swept away altogether. It destroyed a Tractor Supply Inc along with $9 million of farm equipment, as all the merchandise in the store was disturbed and some of it got completely destroyed. The tornado died just 1 minute after hitting the store.

The result of the twister was at least 313 buildings damaged, 130 destroyed, as this was also the only tornado to claim more than one fatality in Alabama. It claimed three fatalities, all in a mobile home when it got completely swept away, as 74 people were injured in this tornado's 9-mile path, as $16 million in damages were reported, more than half of it on farm equipment.

Atlanta-Macon, Georgia Tornado

F2 tornado
Tornado 30.jpg
Duration 2:21 PM EDT – 4:57 PM EDT
Intensity 220 km/h (140 mph) (1-min)

This was the longest-lasting tornado in any winter month and held that record for 27 years. The storm's speed significantly increased to 45 miles an hour, as the tornado formed as a small F0 rope in downtown Atlanta. It took a few minutes, but the twister reached F1 strength near the suburbs, as many homes were horribly damaged on the roof, as more than 500 vehicles were totaled. It reached F2 strength in Sandy Springs, Georgia, destroying 232 homes, leaving at least 1,300 damaged, and was still a 200-metre rope. The twister left Atlanta at 2:40 PM, but left 4 people dead so far, all in Sandy Springs, and left more than 300 people injured because of how populated the area is. The tornado remained over open fields for the next 120 minutes, remaining very consistent with F1 and F2 strength wind. It crossed a junction from I-75 and then slammed into I-475, throwing at least 100 vehicles and totaled 34. No fatalities occurred there, but at least 40 people were injured. The twister finally hit Macon at 4:50 PM, leaving many buildings with no roofing left at all. It tracked to Southfork Road Subdivision and left only 2 homes intact. 29 homes recieved F2 damage, as 40 recieved F0 to F1 damage. One 92-year-old man got killed in Macon when his house entirely collapsed on him. It finally died when it hit a forest. It left a swath 116.6 miles long, up to 250 metres wide, and lasted much longer than anyone predicted. Five people were killed, more than 400 others injured, along with nearly $120 million in damages along the entire path, $110 million in Atlanta alone.

Clover-York, SC 1988 Twister [1st tornado in this area of this outbreak]

F5 tornado
Tornado 293.jpg
Duration 4:29 PM EDT – 4:52 PM EDT
Intensity 445 km/h (275 mph) (1-min)

This is only the 2nd of at least 11 fatal tornadoes that would rake through the York County area between 1985 and 2015, the first fatal tornado being an F4 in 1986 that claimed two lives in an automobile, demolished three older buildings and damaged at least 29 more. At least 400 trees were destroyed in the 1986 tornado. The 1988 tornado, however, would be the most fatal tornado in that area's history for 30 years. It would also be the only F5 tornado in South Carolina until 2006, which took only two lives and left only three injuries for that one. This one, however, was one of the worst tornadoes in Carolina history. It formed around 6 miles northeast of the edges of South Carolina, moving southwest at 45 miles per hour. It didn't take long for the tornado to intensify. Just 1/3 of a mile outisde downtown, it leveled a church along with another building beside it. When it hit downtown, traffic was almsot at its worst. At least 21 vehicles were thrown, but had the civil defense sirens not started wailing about 20 minutes before the tornado hit, there would've been more than 40 fatalities. Nineteen of those cars were shredded beyond recognition, as several brick buildings were entirely leveled. A post office nearby, when the tornado turned straight for the suburbs, got entirely shredded apart, as in the suburbs, at least 59 homes were destroyed, 27 damaged. Nine well-built and well-anchored brick homes were entirely swept away by this tornado, as all trees were stripped "naked" of any cosmetics, including leaves, bark, and the branches, and were also thrown over 500 feet away. Any buildings within a 1/3 of a mile radius from this gigantic 1/2 mile funnel had the roof torn off. It turned again, this time heading for a shopping centre and then after demolishing all four stores, went turning for York. This was an isolated tornado, which is the reason why it got extremely strong in the first place. The twister then hit York, with multiple brick homes being completely swept away and/or entirely flattened. It was known to be the only anticylonic F5 tornado on record so far, as it finally died out after 23 minutes and 19.1 miles of being on the ground.

This twister killed 12 people in Clover and 7 others in York, resulting into 19 fatalities and at least 300 injuries. Over 200 homes were entirely destroyed, 57 others damaged. The mass majority of downtown Clover was entirely leveled. In fact, this tornado was so bad that it was claimed to be a Statewide Emergency--one of only thirty-two twisters to have ever done that ever since 1950.

Pensacola 1988 "Twin Cyclones"

F3 tornado
Tornado 238.jpg
Duration 5:40 PM EDT – 6:05 PM EDT
Intensity 295 km/h (185 mph) (1-min)

Two deadly F3 tornadoes tracked at least 29.5 combined miles within just 25 minutes when it hit a populated area. The twisters started out as five waterspouts that converged into two massive F3 tornadoes. This is the 1st tornado that hit land in the photo as it lasted significantly longer. The second tornado killed 4 people and tracked at least 11.4 miles, destroying 69 homes and leaving 310 damaged, with at least 54 injuries. The first tornado remained on the ground for 25 minutes and at least 18.1 miles overall. During that time, it hit an area just over a mile away from the first twister. Within just 20 minutes, at least 118 homes were entirely destroyed, 445 others damaged, as numerous automobiles and trees were also horribly damaged, thrown, or likely destroyed. At least five extra fatalities were reported from the 2nd tornado, about 150 injuries. This combined into 9 fatalities, almost 200 homes destroyed, >750 damaged, resulting into about $95 million in damage, and just over 200 injuries. This was the only time a rare phenomena like this has ever happened in Florida for around 20 years until 2008 [two tornadoes simultaneously hit Anna Maria Island, destroying 95% of all the buildings there as both were rated EF4 and EF3 respectively].

No siginificant tornado activity took place for the next 3 days, but there have been numerous reports of F0s and possible F1s on the ground.

4th February

At least 6 notable tornadoes happened on this one day, along with a combined total of eight fatalities and over 100 injuries.

Greenville 1988 Tornado

F2 tornado
Tornado 219.jpg
Duration 8:57 AM EST – 9:39 AM EST
Intensity 250 km/h (155 mph) (1-min)
A very high-end F2 tornado tied to be the deadliest tornado of 4th February. The tornado formed 30 miles southeast of Greenville, moving northwest at 50 miles per hour. Within its 42-minute duration, it tracked at least 34.91 miles, was up to 1/6 of a mile wide, and caused minor damage along most of its path. However, it rapidly intensified while nearing Greenville. One minute, winds were estimated to be around 75mph [or F0 strength] and then two minutes later, it's quickly estimated that the wind speed was around 140mph in several areas. Wind speeds of up to 155mph destroyed at least 44 homes in Greenville, damaged 68 others just before it turned away. One fatality was claimed in Greenville, the other in an automobile when it was thrown for about 40 feet. The tornado killed a total of 2 people, left 29 injuries in its path, and about $9 million.

Jellico, TN

F2 tornado
Tornado 297.jpg 150px
Duration 11:22 AM EST – 11:29 AM EST
Intensity 215 km/h (130 mph) (1-min)
A photogenic but strong tornado hit the mountain town of Jellico at around 11:25 AM that morning. In just a few minutes, several homes sustained significant damage, with around 28 structures damaged. One person was killed when a mobile home was destroyed. Throughout the rest of its path, the tornado caused very minimal property damage. However, many structures in its path were well-built, so the tornado got an F2 rating. One fatality and six injuries were claimed from this tornado.

=== Incomplete, WIP ===

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