Tornado Tim

Tornado Tim author and storm chaser

In Kirksville Missouri, Tornado Tim was nearly killed by a tornado.

On May 13, 2009, Kirksville was the victim of a large tornado, a city hit by tornadoes before. A tornado estimated as an EF2 on the Enhanced Fujita scale struck the northern edge of Kirksville destroying or severely damaging many homes, several businesses, a car dealership, and at least one factory. Two residents living just outside the city limits were killed by the tornado, and as many as a dozen other area residents were injured.

Tornado Tim’s account

I was over confident when I approached the Kirksville tornado, as I had filmed multiple close encounters with tornadoes already that year. Just an hour before the Kirksville tornado I was in the edge of a tornado that hit Novinger Missouri, so my adrenalin was high and my confidence high.

Parking in front of a powerful tornado seemed like something I could control due to my recent success but I was about to be proved wrong.  I believed I was more than capable of handling another close encounter. So as this second tornado of the day came in Kirksville, there I was in front of it, filming it as it came at me.

I was staying ahead of the tornado by  a couple of hundred yards, but when I made my last turn to get out of it’s path I turned onto a dead-end road by mistake. There I was trapped in the path of the tornado.  Nothing I could do but ride out the tornado sitting in my car. All I could think was that here is where I would die.  Watch this one-of-a-kind video below.




Damage surveys conducted by National Weather Service in conjunction with emergency management have found evidence of three tornadoes from storms in Sullivan and Adair counties which struck on May 13, 2009. All tornadoes appeared to have been produced by the same supercell thunderstorm.

1) The first tornado to form touched down just north Milan, Missouri and proceeded east where it destroyed a mobile home killing a female occupant. The tornado continued eastward for a few more miles damaging numerous trees for before lifting. The damage produced by this tornado indicates it was of EF-1 strength.

2) The second tornado to form touched down approximately 5 miles west of Novinger near Highway 149. This tornado destroyed a house and an out building west of Novinger before destroying a mobile home, and producing additional power line and minor building damage on the south side of Novinger. The tornado paralleled highway 6 east of Novinger, damaging numerous power poles for a few more miles before lifting. This tornado produced EF-1 damage along its track.

3) The third tornado produced by this storm touched down about 2 miles west northwest of Kirksville and moved eastward through the northern part of the city. This tornado killed two people just northwest of Kirksville and went on to produce EF-1 damage to several structures in northern Kirksville including damage to a car dealership and several homes. Initially damage found east of Kirksville was thought to be the result of a separate tornado, however further analysis of the damage path shows that the tornado which struck northern Kirksville continued eastward into a rural area and strengthened. Several farmsteads were struck by this tornado east of Kirksville and at one point the tornado produced EF-2 damage.

Remember the Kirksville Missouri tornado of 1889 – April 27th

April 27, 1899, Kirksville, the county seat of Adair County, a city of 7,000 inhabitants, was visited by a tornado, which swept over and through the place about five o’clock in the afternoon, making a track about four blocks in width and a mile in length, killing 45 persons, injuring 150, and destroying 200 houses. Theodore Brigham was found dead on the ground several hundred feet from his house, having been carried off by the wind. An infant was carried some distance and gently deposited in a field without being injured. The house of J. T. Coonfield was blown across a ditch and jammed into the side of a hill, all its inmates escaping without serious injury. A girl sixteen years old was found dead with a two by four inch scantling thrust through her body, and a child was taken from a heap of ruins with a limb of a tree run through its neck. Newtown, with a population of 750, in Sullivan County, thirty-five miles northeast of Kirksville, was visited by the same tornado a few minutes later and half destroyed. The duration of the storm at this place was only two minutes but its work was shocking. Herman Despers’ family of five persons, father, mother and three children, were all killed, William Hayes and his wife were blown with their house, a distance of one hundred yards and killed. Laban Evans was blown 150 yards and his two daughters 200 yards and killed. One of the Desper children was found after the storm flattened against a post, dead. One of the Hayes children, two years old, was found lodged in an apple tree, dead. Four children of Henry Barbee were found alive and but slightly injured under the ruins of Widow Pierce’s house, their own house having blown off over their heads and the Pierce house blown from the other side of the street and deposited over them in such a way as to shelter them. Ten persons were killed and twenty-five injured at Newtown and the number of victims at the two places, Newtown and Kirksville, was 55 killed and 175 injured.
Information taken from the University of Missouri Digital Library
  Encyclopedia of the History of Missouri Edited by Howard Conard. Volume II

Missouri and Tornadoes

The Kirksville Missouri tornado in 2009 added to the list of reasons why those who live in Missouri should have an emergency tornado safety plan in place. With the history of tornadoes in Missouri that plan should include being vigilant all year long as the state has proven to be deadly at any time of year, not just in the spring.

Missouri has had many deadly tornadoes with 2008 proving to be one of those years. It all started early in 2008 with the first deadly tornado striking on January 7th at 6:33 PM in GREENE-WEBSTER CO. Missouri where 3 people died when a F3 tornado roared through the area. An 84 year old female was killed when her wood constructed home was destroyed in Greene County. Six injuries and two fatalities also occurred in rural areas north of Marshfield in Webster County and was a sign of what kind of year Missouri faced from killer tornadoes.
Then on May 10th 2008 at 4:59 PM in NEWTON-BARRY CO. Missouri a powerful F4 tornado caused 14 fatalities and 200 injuries from just west of Highway 43 to Highway 86 in Newton County. One man was killed as he was taking shelter in a mobile home in Barry County. The deadly day continued at 05:10 PM JASPER CO. Missouri when an F1 tornado caused one fatality (17-year old female) which occurred when a large tree fell on a mobile home she was in.
2007 was a good example that Missouri can get tornadoes at any time of the year with killer tornadoes striking in both March and October. The first deadly tornado in 2007 was on March 1st early in the morning at 6:33 AM about 3 miles southwest of Caulfield Missouri where one person was killed from an F3 tornado. It was reported that two gas stations, four mobile homes and two frame homes suffered extensive damage. Then later in the year an F2 tornado struck on October 17 at 11:05 PM in the evening in Paris Missouri where it tossed a Mobile home 1/3rd mile into field.