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The Forgotten F5 of 1998: A Look Back

Thursday marks the 17th anniversary of the violent "Forgotten F5" on April 16, 1998. That violent and historic tornado was part of a larger violent tornado outbreak that affected much of Tennessee, north Alabama, and adjacent areas. This same event was responsible for the infamous Nashville tornado, a strong F3 tornado in its own right, that ended up overshadowing the violent events in southern Tennessee that afternoon.

Many people do not know that the original F5 track across Wayne, Lawrence, Giles, and Maury Counties has since been separated into three separate violent tornado tracks, all occurring from the same parent supercell thunderstorm that struck southern Tennessee. We have since learned that the Wayne County track and the Giles/Maury County tracks were actually separate violent F4 tornadoes from the F5 tornado in Lawrence County that afternoon. That violent Lawrence County, TN F5 tornado was responsible for 21 injuries along its 19.3 mile track across the county.

A rare High Risk of severe weather had been in place across Tennessee and adjacent areas during the day, and a major tornado outbreak was expected. In total, 63 tornadoes occurred in the overall tornado outbreak, with 13 fatalities. The violent tornado outbreak of April 16, 1998 is a stark reminder of how violent our weather can be in the Tennessee Valley region, especially this time of year. We must always be vigilant and weather aware, and the Tennessee Valley Weather Team will always be here to keep you informed of severe weather threats when they threaten the area.

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