Tornadoes in Tennessee on 1988/12/24


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- Polygons represent shapes of defined geographic areas
- The maps currently support state and county/parish polygons
- Polygons are not shown on all pages. They only appear in county and state pages, or in custom searches where a county or state has been specified

Disclaimer |?|

The Tornado History Project generates approximate paths through separate historical archives provided by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Paths generated from the NCDC data are typically more detailed, but neither archive gives exact path information. There are several reasons that paths may be inaccurate:

  • Tornado touchdown and liftoff coordinates were recorded with only 2 digits of decimal precision (i.e. [33.72, -86.15] vs [33.71689, -86.15463]). As a consequence, the observed points on the map may be slightly off from actual. Note that beginning in 2009, up to 4 digits of decimal precision are given.
  • Coordinates have not historically been calculated via GPS (Global Positioning System). Thus, tornado touchdown and liftoff coordinates should be considered as estimates only.
  • Tornadoes may not have been in contact with the ground for the entire path as depicted on the map. Storm damage in any location depicted under the "path" should not be inferred.
  • Although paths are drawn as straight lines between any two sets of coordinates, the tornado may have "zigzagged" in some way.
  • Although paths are drawn as uniform thin lines on the map, it is likely that the tornado changed size over its lifetime. Damage in any location depicted under (or not under) the "path" should not be inferred.

Even with the above in mind, the data is the best available. If you see a path that is depicted incorrectly, please post a comment in the tornado forum indicating why you belive the path to be incorrect.

Paths generated from NCDC data are typically more detailed due to the way coordinates are listed in each archive:

  • SPC database - A maximum of 2 coordinates (touchdown and liftoff) is given for each tornado, or each state segment of a tornado if it is a multi-state tornado. Thus the vast majority of paths are depicted as simple straight lines.
  • NCDC database - Some tornadoes have mutliple sets of coordinates within any state, generally corresponding to entry and exit points by county. Thus, since more coordinates have been used to draw the path, the depicted path should be more accurate. Having said that, most tornadoes do not have additional path data in the NCDC archive. When they do, paths are drawn from the NCDC data.

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Summary   Definitions |?|

The following statistics and definitions are derived from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) historical tornado archive. The Tornado History Project can not guarantee the accuracy of the underlying data within the SPC historical tornado archive. However, the data as presented here is guaranteed to match the SPC data, except where noted.

Some definitions will not be given since they are obvious (i.e. "Date", "Time", etc...)
Special Note: This site uses a unique index number to identify each tornado. This index number is not a part of the official historical tornado archive.

E (Error) (tornado search table only) - A yellow box indicates that the tornado record contains a suspected error. A red box indicates that the tornado record contains an error and has been modified from the official source. Hover over the box for the error text.
Map/Forum (tornado search table only) - Clickable icons for further content related to a tornado.
State - The state or states affected by a tornado.
Fujita - The Fujita scale is an attempt to classify damage from a tornado. F0 being the least damaging, F5 the most. For 2007 and beyond, the Enhanced Fujita (EF) is given.
Fat. - The number of fatalities attributed to the tornado.
Inj. - The number of injuries attributed to the tornado.
Width - Width in yards. It is unclear if this indicates a maximum width or mean width.
Length - Length of tornado path in miles. Note the entire track length is not necessarily all on the ground (some tornadoes "hop and skip".)
Damage - Prior to 1996, this is a range by dollar amount. For 1996 and later, actual damage estimates are in millions.
Crop Loss - Added in 2007. Given in millions of dollars.
Lat/Lon - Contains two sets of coordinates:

  • Touchdown Latitude/Longitude - For single state tornadoes, and the overall record for multi-state tornadoes, the approximate touchdown location in decimal degrees. For the state specific records of multi-state tornadoes, entry point into the state in decimal degrees.
  • Liftoff Latitude/Longitude - For single state tornadoes, and the overall record for multi-state tornadoes, the approximate liftoff location in decimal degrees. For the state specific records of multi-state tornadoes, the exit or lift-off point from the state in decimal degrees.

St. #. - The state tornado number assigned to the tornado for that specific state for that specific year. Generally, state tornado numbers were assigned in the order the tornado occurred, but that is not always the case.
SPC # - The tornado number as assigned by the SPC. Tornado numbers are not unique and reset each year. Generally, tornado numbers were assigned in the order the tornado occurred, but that is not always the case.

Date(s) (yyyy-mm-dd)TornadoesFatalitiesHighest FatalitiesInjuriesHighest InjuriesLongest PathWidest Path
1988-12-24 - 1988-12-2411 person1 person7 people7 people6 miles150 yards
User Comments   (1)      
General Comment
2016-01-19 13:13:23
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Rank: F0

Wow!  I had no idea this was an F4!  I was in my early 20's and dating a guy that lived in West End.  I remember the apartment building was like an old Holiday Inn that had been converted.  It had upper verandas with a railing on each floor.  He was having a Christmas party and it was rather crowded so I chose to stay out on the veranda most of the time.  I remember it was very very warm, balmy and still.  Something just didn't feel right.  It felt like tornado weather but in December?  We didn't have a TV or a radio going so we had no warning.  I remember sitting on the veranda and dangling my legs through the guard rail bars and saying, "Something isn't right here.  I think I need to go home."  I lived an hour south.  My boyfriend just laughed at me.  "I really think I need to go home."  Something just kept telling me to get out of there.  He thought I was just being shy about so many people there so he suggested that we go down to the ground level into a laundry room to have some "private time."  I reluctantly agreed and we were in there being "private."  All of a sudden garbage cans started slamming up against the door and you could hear the wind.  I jumped up and said, "I gotta go!"  Like an idiot I took off and jumped into my car and headed toward the interstate.  Once I was on the interstate it was like buckets of water were being thrown at the windsheild.  The wipers couldn't keep up.  You couldn't see the lines on the road.  The car was being pitched side to side.  I didn't even realize that I was driving right through it!  Got up Christmas Day and it was all over the news!  My jaw was on the ground!  So after all the family hooplah I drove back up to Nashville and was just shocked at what I saw.  The one image that sticks in my mind for some reason is the debris in the trees.  There was a toilet seat and a mattress in one tree.  I don't know why that's the image that sticks out with all the other MASSIVE amounts of damage I saw.  I should have left town the first moment I felt uneasy.  I would have missed the whole thing by a few minutes.

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