On this date in 2002, an unusually widespread and strong late season outbreak of severe weather struck from Louisiana to Pennsylvania.
Seventy six tornadoes were reported across 17 states between Friday night on November 9 and the early morning hours of Monday the 11th.
It was the second largest November tornado outbreak in recorded history and one of the largest all-time. A total of 36 people died.
Tennessee was the hardest hit with seventeen killed. Two waves of severe weather hit the Volunteer State, with severe weather beginning on Saturday night, November 9th and continuing into into the predawn hours in western sections of the state. Two people died in northwestern Tennessee as tornadoes swept through Montgomery County.
The main action in Tennessee and nationally came starting on Sunday afternoon as severe weather erupted along a long line like a string of firecrackers. The town of Mossy Grove, TN was “wiped off the map” by a destructive tornado that killed 7 people. A NOAA Weatheradio prompted a well prepared theater manager in Van Wert, Ohio to evacuate his patrons minutes before a tornado heavily damaged the building, throwing a vehicle on the stage.
Alabama was also hard-hit with twelve fatalities. The Saragossa Tornado, which killed eight, was on the ground for 73 miles, making it the fourth longest path length of any tornado in modern Alabama history. The town of Carbon Hill was dealt a heavy blow. In June 2002, the town’s high school had burned to the grounfd. On this deadly night, an F3 tornado destroyed the town’s elementary school.