Storm Highway by Dan Robinson
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                   Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 12:30AM CST

2012: Year of the I-64 corridor tornadoes

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Since 2001, I-64 has been by far my favorite highway. Well-traveled (58 times so far from STL to KY/WV), it's taken me west from West Virginia to the Great Plains to see tornadoes, and finally to my new home in the St. Louis metro. But in 2012, this highway - specifically the corridor 50 miles north and south of it from West Virginia to St. Louis - has had a remarkable year of tornadoes itself. The following map from the SPC shows all tornado reports so far this year in the US, with the concentration along I-64 standing out prominently:

US tornado reports through November 13 (Source: SPC)

While the I-64 corridor is well within the Midwestern 'Tornado Alley' and sees a few events each year, the number of tornadoes along it this year is quite impressive. Here is a breakdown of the events:

  • January 17 - Indiana/Kentucky - Tornadoes of up to EF2 intensity struck in and around the Louisville metro area. [ SPC reports ]
  • February 29 - Harrisburg, Illinois EF4 - In addition to the pre-dawn Harrisburg tornado, several more damaging early-morning tornadoes hit western and central Kentucky. [ SPC reports ]
  • March 2 - Henryville, Indiana EF4 and West Liberty, KY EF3 - This corridor's biggest day this year was of course March 2, with several long-track supercells producing numerous tornadoes across Indiana and Kentucky, the most significant occuring in within 50 miles of I-64. [ SPC reports ]
  • March 23 - Opdyke, Illinois EF2 - Several tornadoes occured in a cold-core regime in southern Illinois, with the deadly Opdyke tornado crossing I-64 near the Belle Rive exit east of Mount Vernon. [ SPC reports ]
  • May 1 - Indiana tornadoes - While the 'main event' of this day was in the Champaign, IL area, one tornado occured near the Louisville metro area. [ SPC reports ]
  • June 29-30 derecho - While not tornadic, this was one of the most damaging and high-impact convective severe weather events to ever strike the central Appalachian region. The derecho affected the I-64 corridor across West Virginia, eastern Kentucky and central Virginia. [ SPC reports ]
  • August 31 - St. Louis area tornadoes - The remnant circulation of Hurricane Isaac produced several tornadoes north of I-64 at St. Louis in Missouri and Illinois. [ SPC reports ]
  • September 25 - Okawville, Illinois EF1 - This tornado crossed I-64 twice at Okawville, flipping tractor-trailers at both points. [ SPC reports ]

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