Leander, Texas

Thursday, March 16, 2000 around 4 pm

Peter Yang photographed the funnel cloud from Blockhouse Creek about 3 miles away as I stood directly underneath the cloud base seen at the bottom of the funnel. The cloud base was turning very slowly and drifted slowly Northeast. It was so close to the ground that I mistaked it for a wall cloud since I could see no funnel.The wall cloud if there was one, would be seen near the top of the photograph several thousand feet higher. Once the funnel became a tornado it reversed it's direction and followed a Southeast track through Mason Creek. I was standing on my front porch when the tornado reached my house. Using the Fujita Scale table below as a guide, it appears that we received F1 level damage while the houses behind ours sustained damage closer to F2 levels.

Photos from Glass Street in Leander about a mile from ground zero
Courtesy of Jim Kinter Jr. K5KTF


F-Scale Number Intensity PhraseWind Speed Type of Damage Done
F0Gale tornado 40-72 mphSome damage to chimneys; breaks branches off trees; pushes over shallow-rooted trees; damages sign boards.
F1Moderate tornado 73-112 mphThe lower limit is the beginning of hurricane wind speed; peels surface off roofs; mobile homes pushed off foundations or overturned; moving autos pushed off the roads; attached garages may be destroyed.
F2Significant tornado 113-157 mphConsiderable damage. Roofs torn off frame houses; mobile homes demolished; boxcars pushed over; large trees snapped or uprooted; light object missiles generated.
F3Severe tornado 158-206 mphRoof and some walls torn off well constructed houses; trains overturned; most trees in forest uprooted
F4Devastating tornado 207-260 mphWell-constructed houses leveled; structures with weak foundations blown off some distance; cars thrown and large missiles generated.
F5Incredible tornado 261-318 mphStrong frame houses lifted off foundations and carried considerable distances to disintegrate; automobile sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 meters; trees debarked; steel re-inforced concrete structures badly damaged.


Radar showing the line of thunderstorms that produced this tornado (captured by Leander Fire Dept)

This is a simulated ground zero view I had of the tornado at the moment just before I retreated to cover just milliseconds before it hit Mike and Kelly Bouldin's home. Ronald Taylor's roof is the simulated debris here, and this image depicts the picture in my mind that I shall never forget. Notice that except for the swirling vortex of roofing materials, the tornado was otherwise invisible to me.

The Bouldin house on Greening Way showing classic F2 tornado damage. This is where I began my house to house search for injured neighbors. I found a very shaken but uninjured Bouldin family inside.

The side of Ron Taylor's home showing the area very near touchdown.

Front of our house showing F1 levels of roof damage. Our Border Collie Shiloh escaped the tornado through the opening in the fence and hid under a bed for hours. She was presumed lost until I noticed a tail wagging under the edge of the bed some 3 1/2 hours later. Fortunately, the tornadic wind blew and held both front doors open for her.


Path of the twister through our backyard. Amazingly our storage building suffered no damage other than minor paint scuffs from flying debris. The storage building one door down in back of ours was tipped and rolled a short distance.

The top was ripped off of my weather instrument shelter leaving the thermometer and charcoal fluid untouched. The late Lou Withrow was the MIC at the Austin National Weather Service office when I received my Severe Weather Spotter Training. Lou was my Skywarn instructor and helped me design and build the instrument shelter.

A shot showing the general direction that the twister came from and the damaged deck railing that I built just one month before the storm.

View of the tornado's path from behind our storage building.

Only posts remain in a 125 foot fence as Caroline and John Olenoski survey their F2 category roof damage. Only three fence sections can be accounted for. The rest were swept away.

Largest section of our F1 roof damage. Building materials donated by Cashway Lumber appear at the edge of Mason Creek Blvd.

Leander Police seal off damaged areas from onlookers and potential looters as firemen search for gas leaks and cut power.

Caroline looks on as repairs commence on her roof.

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E-Mail message I received from the National Weather Service on March 22, 2000:


Thank you for your message. Although I only had time for a quick scan at your web page, it looked great. I've bookmarked it for when I can take my time and really enjoy reviewing it. I agree that the damage in your subdivision was F2 in places, with most of the damage in the F0 or F1 range.

Thank you for your account in this tornado outbreak - it will be very helpful when I write our Storm Data Report.

Larry Eblen
Official Storm Data Report
Larry Eblen-MIC National Weather Service
Date: Unknown

A strong weather system produced scattered showers and thunderstorms over Central Texas on the afternoon of Thursday March 16. Funnel clouds were first reported by the public and by the Leander Police Department near 4 pm that afternoon. A small, short-lived F0 tornado struck near the police station near 4 pm, with no significant damage. Shortly after 4 pm, another rope-shaped funnel was observed west of Leander. Photographs of this developing tornado indicate a generally-long and rope-shaped structure that slowly twisted and wound its way to the surface. The tornado touched down in the western part of Mason Creek Subdivision located on the west side of Leander and moved slowly eastward. Damage near the tornado touchdown was F0 level approaching F1. It damaged eaves of roofs, took shingles off roofs and knocked down large tree branches. More significant damage was noted along Greening Way and Mason Creek Boulevard in the west and central part of the subdivision, where several large trees of over 1 foot diameter were uprooted. This indicated damage in the lower levels of the F2 scale. In addition, the tornado had destroyed approximately 30 percent of one home. Again, this indicated minimal F2-level damage. The tornado began to lift as it approached Old Bagdad Road on the eastern side of the subdivision. Most of the damage in this part of the subdivision was at the F0 level. In all, the tornado damaged 24 homes and several outbuildings. The tornado was estimated at 200 yards wide with a path length of 1.5 miles.

Web page design and all photography (except tornado photos) by:
Steve Culp
Severe Weather Spotter WI-1 (Western Williamson County)
HAM Radio Callsign W5SDC