Happy, Texas Tornado Damage

May 5, 2002

Click on any image below for a larger version.  (Images from video unless otherwise labeled.)

02050513.jpg (17041 bytes)  Looking north just after the tornado moved through Happy and crossed I-27 as it moved east.  Happy, Texas is located south of Amarillo, about 15 or so miles south of Canyon, Texas, which is the gateway to the Palo Duro Canyon.
02050501d.jpg (27396 bytes) Damage along the service road on the eastern edge of Happy.
02050502d.jpg (27705 bytes) This image was shot just before sunset on the day of the tornado, while search and rescue operations were still underway.  At least two people, a couple living in a trailer home, were killed by the tornado.  Their son, who was also in the trailer home, was critically injured, and reported to be barely clinging to life.
02050503d.jpg (27170 bytes) This and the following images were shot around sunrise on May 6.  Overturned large tractor-trailer rig (18 wheeler) located on the northern edge of the tornado track, about two blocks west of I-27.  The driver of this rig was reported to have been injured, but he remained in the cab of the tractor.  Another 18 wheeler was overturned on highway 87, which runs north/south through Happy, about 2 blocks west of this location.  The driver of the second 18 wheeler was ejected from the tractor's cab and was seriously injured.
02050504d.jpg (28220 bytes)  
02050504ad.jpg (41184 bytes) Looking south at the underside of the rig.
02050512d.jpg (30252 bytes) After the rig was turned on its side, it was pushed across the ground by the force of the tornado's winds.
02050505d.jpg (33591 bytes) Looking west from behind the 18 wheeler toward the area where one of the trailer homes was destroyed.
02050507d.jpg (29393 bytes) Looking southeast toward the center of the tornado track.  This small white building appeared to have been constructed from cinder blocks.  Anyone who could have made it into this building before the tornado struck would have survived.  The windows were broken, suggesting that anyone inside might have been injured by flying glass and debris, but they would have been protected from the majority of the debris and from the force of the tornado's winds.
02050508d.jpg (28905 bytes) Looking southeast along the northern side of the tornado's path.  The debris on the right was the remains of a trailer home.  Note the small white building located just above the cab of the pickup truck, and its proximity to the debris of the trailer.  The trailer was thrown about 75 yards east-southeast from its point of origin. 
02050509d.jpg (35931 bytes) Another view looking southeast.  Note the traditional home in the distance.  The roof was removed, but the exterior walls remained intact.  We'll take a closer look at this home shortly.
02050510d.jpg (30173 bytes) A view of the floor of the trailer home.  I didn't have time to look closely, but I did not find evidence that tie downs were used in an attempt to keep the wind from moving this trailer.  I am unsure whether the outcome would have been different.  No underground storm cellars were seen near the trailer homes.
02050511d.jpg (44775 bytes) The remnants of a riding lawn mower.  It appeared that this lawn mower originated from a home about 100 yards to the northwest.  The home suffered roof damage, but again, the exterior walls remained standing.
02050513d.jpg (42669 bytes) Looking southwest at the home mentioned earlier.  Note again that the roof was removed, but the exterior walls remained standing.  I have don't know whether anyone was at home during the tornado, but the occupants of this home should have easily survived.  Wind blown debris may have entered the living area and could have caused injuries, but the outcome should have been much better than for anyone either exposed to debris and wind outdoors or inside a trailer home.  Note the dark objects located in the upper left of the image.
02050514d.jpg (37217 bytes) Looking southwest at the "objects" mentioned above.  These "objects" were a pile of three vehicles that had been thrown by the tornado's winds. 
02050515d.jpg (46027 bytes) Another image of the home, this time looking northwest toward the mobile home pictured earlier and in the direction from which the tornado came.

Copyright 2002 - Samuel D. Barricklow - All rights reserved

Video of this event is available through Storm Stock

Visit The Storm Shop - your source for excellent SKYWARN training and Storm Chase adventure videos, photographs and books.

Go to the Site Contents page

Go to Storm News and Archives

Go to Site Entry page

Last revised: November 28, 2008