The Topeka, Kansas Tornado of June 8th 1966

Today marks the fifty third anniversary of one of the most destructive and deadly Tornadoes in Kansas history.

The enormous Tornado that struck Topeka, Kansas on the 8th June 1966 killed seventeen people, injured over five hundred people and caused over two hundred million dollars in damage1.

1: At the time, highest in American history. With modern-day inflation taken into consideration, the Tornado still ranks as one of the costliest on record. Estimated at around one point eight billion dollars.


The Tornado formed at around 7:00pm west of Auburn in southwest Shawnee County, cut a twenty two mile long path, at times half a mile wide, across the heart of the city.

Total destruction happened along an eight block section in the center of Topeka. Every building on the campus of Washburn University was either destroyed or heavily damaged – ten million dollars in damage, ALONE.

Across the city, almost eight hundred homes were completely destroyed with nearly three thousand damaged. The Capitol Dome sustained damage from the flying debris, as did other buildings in downtown Topeka.

The devastation caused by this Tornado led to it being classified as an F5/EF-5 – with winds estimated at over two hundred and fifty miles per hour.

The Tornado held a northeastern pace at approxmintanly thirty five miles per hour, however weakened after leaving the downtown area,

It finally dissipated just east of Billard Airport on the city’s northeast side having been on the ground for about half an hour.

Power and utilities in many parts of the city were out for weeks, and hundreds were left homeless.

As it entered the southwest part of the city, the enormous Tornado roared across Burnetts Mound…

…Ending a longstanding Indian that the Mound would deflect any Tornadoes and spare the city.

Find more of our articles on Tornadoes that have struck the state of Kansas here.