Wichita Falls, Texas Tornado of April 10th 1979 – Terrible Tuesday

FYA: This Tornado was one of many that struck during the Red River Valley Tornado outbreak of the 10th April 1979…

…We will be producing a separate article on this outbreak in due course. You can find more out on the Wichita Falls, Texas (TX) storm itself here.

The F4/EF-4 Tornado that struck Wichita Falls, TX formed several miles southwest of the city in Archer County, travelling over mostly open land.

When the Tornado turned east-northeast, it entered Wichita County – damaging a handful of rural homes, string of high voltage towers.

Moving into the city of Wichita Falls, the Tornado first struck Memorial Stadium and McNiel Junior High School, severely damaging both buildings (#1 on the damage path diagram below).

Damage path diagram credit: National Weather Service (NWS)

The Tornado’s formation and its movement towards the stadium and high school was captured on camera by Wolfgang Lange from the front of his apartment complex (#2 on the damage path diagram) – see in the photos below.

After capturing the last photo of the Tornado, Lange retreated to the complex’s laundry room and hid between heavy commercial washers and dryers. Luckily, he only suffered minor injuries.

Northeast of Lange’s apartment complex, on the first street of houses, a man by the name of Robert Molet also captured the Tornado on camera as it approached (#3 on the damage path diagram) – see in the photos below.

Unlike Lange’s view, as you can see in the above photos, Molet did not have an unhindered view of the Tornado – did not immediately recognise the F4/EF-4 wedge.

Molet stood in his backyard driveway and captured the destruction of the above mentioned apartment complex and the beginning of his neighbourhood being destroyed.  

Molet carried on taking photos until the wind blew him into his garage. Although, his house was completely destroyed, Molet escaped with only minor injuries – protecting him from the worst of the winds and debris.

The first deaths caused by Tornado were recorded at the already mentioned apartment complex and adjoining housing area.

Continuing east-northeast, the Tornado severely damaged commercial buildings along Southwest Parkway, including total devastation of the Southwest National Bank Building except its vault (#4 on the damage path diagram).

North of Southwest Parkway, the F4/EF-4 wedge destroyed many homes in the Western Hills (DR). Further eastward, many houses in the Faith Village were destroyed, Ben Milam Elementary School was severely damaged (#6 on the damage path diagram).

The Tornado was captured on camera from the south of the city by Pat Blacklock – see in the photos below (#5 on the damage path diagram).

 As you can see in the last few photos above, the gust front/strong west winds to the south of the Tornado can be seen producing waves on Lake Wichita – kicking up spray from the lake.

As the F4/EF-4 wedge crossed Kemp Boulevard, a number of commercial business were destroyed – resulting in several deaths. The Tornado’s most destructive winds missed the Sikes Senter Shopping Mall to the south, but a handful of stores were damaged.

Photo credit: UNKNOWN

Beyond the above mentioned shopping mall, the Tornado crossed a greenbelt area, “skirted” Midwestern State University on the south side – severely damaging more housing additions.

From the Ligon Coliseum of the University, Professor Joe Henderson captured the Tornado on camera (#7 on the damage path diagram) – see in the photos below.

The F4/EF-4 wedge was also captured on camera by Troy Glover from the roof of the Bethania hospital (#8 on the damage path diagram) – see in the photo below.

Photo credit: Troy Glover

A number of people tried to outrun the Tornado as it crossed the south side of the city by getting in vehicles and driving east of Southwest Parkway – north on US Highway 281 and east on US Highway 287.

The Tornado blew many of those vehicles off the above mentioned highways, resulting in numerous deaths.

The F4/EF-4 wedge took the lives of forty two people in Wichita Falls, twenty five deaths were vehicle related and sixteen of the twenty five deaths got in vehicles to outrun the Tornado.

Before leaving the east side of the city, the Tornado destroyed the Sun Valley housing area, the Sunnyside Heights Mobile Home Park and several large commercial businesses including the Levi Strauss Plant – iconic jean maker.

Northeast of Wichita Falls, the Tornado trekked into Clay County. Not only did it enter a different county, it changed its appearance.

As seen in the photos below, captured by Winston Wells, the Tornado became multivortex (#10 on the damage path diagram). At one time, the F4/EF-4 wedge displayed as many as five satellite vortices. 

At this stage of its life, the Tornado did extensive damage just south of Dean and near Byars, destroying a significant number of rural homes, but thankfully causing no deaths.

The grief and devastation caused by this Tornado is almost unthinkable

This particular type of Tornado event is unheard of! A violent Tornado tearing through an eight mile section of a city.

In addition to the forty two deaths caused directly by the F4/EF-4 wedge, three more people died of heart attacks/illnesses during the stress of the Tornado’s life. The number of reported injuries approached almost eighteen hundred however additional injuries were never recorded.

In 1979 dollars, total property damage in the city was estimated at four hundred million.

Over three thousand homes were destroyed and another were damaged. One thousand apartment units/condominiums were destroyed and another one hundred and thirty were damaged.

Around one hundred and forty mobile homes were destroyed, two schools were obliterated and eleven others suffered significant damage. Over one hundred commercial businesses were destroyed, some of which were large businesses/manufacturing – including Levi.

That concludes our in-depth overview of the Tornado. Now, relive the Tornado in videos below.

Imagine looking out your airplane window and seeing this!

As Dan + Shay would say, ‘Speechless’.

Whilst this photo was posted eight months ago, it was definitely worth the rehash. Imagine looking out your airplane window and seeing this!

Photo credit: Reddit – watkinobe

The twin Tornadoes pictured above – were one of many that – struck during the outbreak on the 18th July, 2018 in Iowa.

We will be producing a relive the outbreak in video article for this outbreak in due course.

Post-inspired related article.

Watch EF-4 Tornado obliterate junior and high school in Henryville, IN

The Tornado1 was one of many that touched down during the outbreak of the 2nd – 3rd March 2012.

1: This EF-4 Tornado struck on the 2nd March, 2012 – to be precise.

In the surveillance camera footage below, watch the March 2012 EF-4 Henryville, Indiana Tornado obliterate Henryville junior and high school.

The following video is our favourite in our opinion! In the surveillance camera footage below, watch the high school’s gym being destroyed.

Captured on surveillance camera! Tornado sweeps house away

This Tornado was one of many that struck during the outbreak of the 17th November 2013. Find out more about the outbreak at the bottom of the article.

In the surveillance camera video below, watch the November 2013 Diamond, Illinois Tornado sweep a display house away.

The surveillance camera footage was captured by the surveillance cameras at TD Pete’s Diamond Shell on the day the Tornado struck.

With that being said, listed below are a few facts regarding the outbreak:

  • This outbreak had just over seventy Tornadoes across seven states including Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.
  • Illinois and Indiana had fifty five of these Tornadoes.
  • There were twenty five Tornadoes in Illinois identified.
    • Fourteen being significant (EF-2 or stronger)
    • Three being EF-3 Tornadoes
    • Two being EF-4 Tornadoes
  • One supercell in Illinois dropped five Tornadoes, which were the ones to impact Perkin, Washington, Dana, Coal City, Manhattan and Frankfort – not forgetting Diamond.
  • The EF-4 Tornado which struck Washington, Illinois, had winds of one hundred and ninety miles per hour.
  • There were thirty Tornadoes in Indiana identified.
  • One hundred and one Tornado warnings were issued for Illinois on the day of the outbreak.

We will be producing an relive in video article for this particular outbreak in the near future.

A graph-ical look at data regarding March Tornadoes from 1875 – 2019

The head of The Tornado Project has been very busy indeed. Bravo on your work good sir!

On the 22nd March, meteorologist Thomas Grazulis posted four rather interesting graphs relating to data regarding March Tornadoes from 1875 – 2019 on his Twitter account.

With quotes from Grazulis relating to them, find the four graphs he produced below – please note find original tweets at the bottom of the article. 

Tornado deaths in March outbreaks – 1875 – 2019

“Death totals are down since the 1950, especially this day in 1952. Reason – fewer violent tornadoes? Fewer major outbreaks? Forecasting and warnings? Pacific Ocean patterns? Problem understanding many variables.”

Photo credit: Thomas Grazulis

Very significant [Tornado] outbreaks in March – 1875 – 2019

“The number of “very significant” outbreaks has not changed much. Definition that gives clearest picture across 150 years: at least two F3-5 tornadoes, and 50+ miles of upper EF2 to F5 path miles. Subjective? oh yes, but the best I can come up with.”

Photo credit: Thomas Grazulis

Path length in March [Tornado] outbreaks – 1875 – 2019

“Recent “very significant” total path miles are a little less, but maybe they just are not as violent. No way of telling! There have been quiet periods in the past. Current low number of March events is not unique. Last big one was in 2012.”

Photo credit: Thomas Grazulis

Killer Tornadoes in March “outbreaks” – 1875 – 2019

“The number of killer tornadoes in outbreaks has become very variable, as have deaths. Bad luck play a big part now, as it did this year. Below are all 69 March outbreaks. There have been about 630 “outbreaks” for all months since documentation started in 1873″

Photo credit: Thomas Grazulis

Grazulis also produced a table – on Twitter (CLEVER!) – regarding to killer Tornadoes since March 1873. Find his table in the tweets below..

… This was the perfect opportunity to link Grazulis’ Twitter account somewhere in this article. The head of The Tornado Project closed his tweets out with the following tweet.


1st December 2018 Illinois Tornado outbreak – relive the outbreak in video

This outbreak was late in the season to say the least.

On the 1st December 2018, a number of supercell thunderstorms produced a significant amount of Tornadoes across central and southwest Illinois.

According to storm surveys/reports, approxmintanly twenty nine tornadoes occurred across the state – largest December outbreak since 1957.

It’s suffice to say Taylorville, Illinois was hardest hit. With that being said, relieve the outbreak in the videos below.

RELATED ARTICLE

Dan Satterfield’s blog on the Lee County, AL Tornado is a crucial read…

…which deserved its own post here on Tornado Videos.

Before we get into post, we’re going to introduce the man behind the blog. Dan Satterfield has worked as an on-air meteorologist for over thirty years in Alabama, Florida and Oklahoma.

Now back to our regularly scheduled post. Satterfield took to his blog on agu.org and penned his thoughts on the Lee County, Alabama Tornado. Suffice he did an excellent job, read two excerpts from the post below.

Excerpt 1

“Sirens Are So Last Century

Let’s get the sirens out of the way first. They are not (and never were) designed to be heard indoors. We are talking 1930’s technology, and while some days it may not seem like it, we are living in 2019. People have smart-phones that make Star Trek communicators look old fashioned, and every one of them will alert you to severe weather warnings. Weather sirens are so last century and frankly are a total waste of tax money except in a few specific locations. There are better and more cost-effective ways to alert people to severe weather danger.”

Excerpt 2

“Plenty of Warning

The Storm Prediction Center issued an outlook 24 hours in advance of the tornado that was dead on. They issued a Watch more than 2 hours before the storm and they deserve credit for what I would almost label an eerily accurate forecast. Most residents had at least 9 minutes under a Tornado Warning before the monster cloud with 170 mph winds developed at 2 PM CST last Sunday.

The Tornado Watch was issued by the SPC at 11:40 AM CST. That is over 2 hours before the tornado formed. Read the wording below.

It’s clear that residents had plenty of warning that deadly weather was possible, but 23 died and 90 were injured along the 23-mile path of the EF 4 tornado. Why such a high death toll with all that warning?”

It’s an absolutely incredible piece, which you can read in full here.

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Study: U.S. Tornado frequency is shifting eastward from Great Plains

Tornado Alley is still tops!

This old news however it’s still relevant news.

A study conducted – back in 2018 – found that over the past fourty years, Tornado frequency has increased over a “large swath” of the midwest and southeast and decreased in elements of the central and southern Great Plains – region traditionally associated with Tornado Alley.

The study, conducted by Northern Illinois University’s meteorology professor Victor Gensini and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Severe Storms Laboratory’s Harold Brooks found significant decreasing trends in frequencies of both Tornado reports and Tornado environments over elements of Texas, Oklahoma and northeast Colorado.   

Tornado Alley suffice to say is the top zone for Tornadoes in the United States, however other including the “so-called” Dixie Alley which includes much of the lower Mississippi Valley region are catching up. The researchers identified substantial increasing trends of Tornado reports and Tornado environments in portions of Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee and Kentucky.

“Regions in the southeast and midwest are closing the gap when it comes to the number of Tornado reports. It’s not that Texas and Oklahoma do not get Tornadoes, they’re sstill the number one location in terms of Tornado frequency. But the trend in many locations is down over the past 40 years”

Victor Gensini, Northern Illinois University’s meteorology professor

Gensini stated that the study also looked at the frequency of Tornadoes in fine-scale using two individual approaches. The researchers tracked the number of Tornado reports from 1979 to 2017, whilst investigation regional trends in the daily frequency of Tornado-environment formation over the same period – 1979 to 2017 – using an index known as the Significant Tornado Parameter (STP).

Frequently used in order to predict severe weather, the index captures the coexistence of atmospheric elements favourable for producing Tornadoes. Both the number of actual Tornado reports and the historical STP analysis showed the eastward uptick in Tornado frequency.

The trend is significant for understanding the potential for future Tornado exposure, damage and casualties. Severe thunderstorms accompanied by Tornadoes, hail and damaging winds cause an average of five point four billion dollars each year across the U.S, events with with ten billion or more in damages are no longer uncommon. Suffice to say we say that with the AL, GA Tornado outbreak this past Sunday.

Previous research has identified the southeast as particularly vulnerable to Tornadoes. Simply because of factors such as longer and larger Tornado paths, expanding population, density, mobile home density and higher night time Tornado probabilities, most Tornado deaths occur in southeast – mid-south region. There’s a theme developing here, you can attach this particular theory to the AL, GA Tornado Outbreak.

The researchers cannot say for certain whether the eastward shift in Tornado reports and environments might be caused by natural or human-induced climate change. We have the opinion that it will be more natural. We found this study fascinating, even a year after it was published. You can read it in full here.

Questions asked regarding mobile home performance during recent Tornadoes

Before we get into the post, we’re going to introduce the man who asked the questions. David B. Roueche is the assistant professor in CE at Auburn, AL University.

Roueche applies engineering principles to understand and reduce impacts of weather-related natural hazards. Now, back to our regularly scheduled post.

In nine separate tweets, Roueche put eight separate difficult questions to Brian Hastings (@AlabamaEMA) regarding mobile home performance during the Tornado outbreak in Alabama and Georgia in which twenty three people killed.

We think it’s fair to say, these questions need to be answered. You can find Roueche’s tweeted questions below.


Now that you’ve had the chance to read them, now you can read some of the replies these questions got below.

We’re not particular impressed with this reply, however we wanted to feature it.

It’s safe to say this particular subject is a much-needed debate in congress. Let us know your thoughts and even answers to Roueche’s questions below in the comments.

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3rd May 1999 Oklahoma Tornado outbreak – relive the outbreak in video

We can’t forget to mention May 4th – Kansas, northern Texas (aka the Great Plains Tornado Outbreak of the 3rd – 4th May 1999).

On the 3rd May 1999, a number of supercell thunderstorms produced a significant amount of large and damaging Tornadoes in Oklahoma during the late afternoon/evening.

It is safe to say without doubt, some of these Tornadoes were killers, including the ones that through (and/or near) Dover, Shawnee, Perry, and Bridge Creek. Not forgetting Moore and the metropolitan areas.

Moore is plays a pivotal part in this outbreak as the strongest wind speed from that particular Tornado was recorded. You can find out more on that here.

Also we have to add, a number of Tornadoes struck areas in south central Kansas, eastern Oklahoma and northern Texas – over seventy Tornadoes were observed across the region, some did happen during the morning/early afternoon hours of the 4th May 1999.

It’s without question, the total number of Tornadoes in Oklahoma makes the 3rd– 4th May 1999 Tornado outbreak the biggest ever recorded in the area. Forty people in Oklahoma were killed by the Tornadoes on the 3rd – 4th May 1999.

Six hundred and seventy five people were injured, a number of homes and businesses were destroyed or damaged throughout the areas affected by the Tornadoes. Five people died, one hundred people were injured and significant damage was reported from the Kansas metropolitan areas.

RELATED: The Great Plains Tornado Outbreak of May 3-4, 1999

We didn’t particularly want to make this a wordy article, however we wanted to give this significant outbreak a well-balanced and detailed introduction.

Now you’ve read about, now relive the 3rd May 1999 outbreak thru the lens of a camera in the videos below. We’ve broken it down into two categories: studio/chaser video, so without further ado…

Relive the outbreak thru the lens of a studio camera

Relive the outbreak thru the lens of a chaser’s camera