ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Five Most Destructive Tornadoes in U.S. History

Updated on September 3, 2014

What Causes a Tornado?

As a general definition, tornadoes are caused when different temperatures and humidity meet and form thunderclouds. In the United States, most commonly this occurs when warm, wet winds from the Gulf of Mexico move northward and meet colder, dry winds coming south from Canada.

These two opposing weather patterns meet at the dryline. Cool, dry air from the north overrides low, moist air from the Gulf, usually at about 10,000 feet in elevation. The warm air tries to rise, is blocked by the cool air, and as a result the warm air begins to rotate horizontally. As this is happening, the sun continues to heat the Earth’s surface, causing more warm air to try to rise from the surface. Eventually enough warm air is able to break through the colder layer, sending the warm, spinning air upwards. They then rotate faster in this vertical column and can reach speeds of over 200 miles per hour.

The power of nature!

Twister
Twister | Source

Tornado Classifications

In 1971 the Fujita Scale was introduced as a way of classifying tornadoes. This scale was the brainchild of Tetsuya Fujita of the University of Chicago and Allen Pearson, head of the National Severe Storms Forecast Center.

The Fujita Scale measures a storm’s intensity based mainly on the damage the tornado inflicts on structures and vegetation. It was updated in 1973 to take into account the tornado path and width, and it was replaced in 2007 with the Enhanced Fujita Scale because it was found that damage could occur at lower wind speeds than had originally been thought possible.

Below you will see the Fujita Scale used to measure tornadoes in most of the world, and the damage that can be caused by each level of tornado.

The Levels of Enhance Fujita Scale

F-Scale Number
Wind Speed
Damage Done
F-0
40-72 mph
Tree damage mostly
F-1
73-112 mph
roofs peeled off; mobile homes moved
F-2
113-157 mph
roofs torn off; large trees uprooted
F-3
158-206
walls torn off; trains overturned
F-4
207-260 mph
homes leveled; cars and structures moved distances
F-5
261-318 mph
homes lifted and moved; cars become missiles
F-6
319-379 mph
very unlikely; total obliteration
Information provided by Tornado Project

The Five Most Destructive Tornadoes in U.s. History

The United States is the capitol of the world when it comes to tornadoes. More than 1200 tornadoes are reported yearly in the United States, four times the number in all of Europe. Tornadoes have occurred in every state in the union since 1950, but most of the tornadoes occur in an area east of the Rockies called “Tornado Alley.” This area includes Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas and Iowa.

Some states, such as Alaska, Rhode Island, and Vermont, average one per year, whereas Oklahoma averages 52 per year and Texas a whopping 126 per year. Spring and summer are when the majority of tornadoes are seen, between the months of March and August, but they can occur during any month of the year depending on weather conditions.

Joplin, Missouri Tornado of 2011

The calm before the storm
The calm before the storm | Source

The Tri-state Tornado of 1925

On March 18, 1925, an F-5 tornado began in southeast Missouri and with a ground speed of 62 mph made its way northeast to Illinois and Indiana, covering a record 219 miles. This mammoth tornado was between a quarter to three-quarters of a mile wide and over the course of three hours killed 690 people and injured an additional 2,000. In 1925 dollars, the tornado caused an estimated $18 million in damage, equivalent today to $2 billion.

The Lubbock, Texas Tornado of 1970

The city of Lubbock, Texas, home to Texas Tech University, was greeted on May 11, 1970 with an F-5 tornado, the likes of which they had never seen before. When the tornado had finally past the entire downtown district was in shambles. Twenty-eight people died, 500 more were injured, and severe flooding followed immediately. Total damage was in the millions of dollars and included over 1000 homes.

The Waco, Texas Tornado of 1953

At the end of the working day on May 11,1953, downtown Waco was flattened and 114 people were killed by another F-5 tornado. $41.2 million dollars in damage occurred as brick buildings, thought to be impenetrable, were laid to waste by this killer storm.

Two hours prior to that touch-down, the town of San Angelo was hit, leaving 519 homes destroyed, 13 people dead and 159 injured.

The Gainesville, Georgia Tornado of 1936

On April 6, 1936, one of the most destructive tornadoes in history hit Gainesville, Georgia during working hours. Two tornadoes coming from different directions met and formed in Gainesville. This F-4 tornado plowed through a factory and eventually killed 203 people, injuring another 1600, destroyed 750 homes and caused $13 million in damage.

Natchez, Mississippi Tornado of 1840

Before any warning systems had been invented, the city of Natchez was hit completely off-guard by this tornado, killing 317 people and wounding another 109 people. At approximately one p.m. this F-5 tornado hit the busy port city of Natchez and then followed the Mississippi River for several miles, wiping out other villages.

Interestingly enough, most of the fatalities happened to workers on the river and very few to people in homes. Flatboats were picked up by the twister and deposited thirty miles downstream.

One Final Note

The tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri on May 22, 2011 may end up being the most destructive in U.S. history. Final damage totals are not tabulated yet, but the F-5 tornado killed 158 people, injured more than 1,000 more, and caused at least $2.2 billion in damage.

As of the writing of this article, the people of Joplin are still picking up the pieces and trying to recover from this storm.

Tornado Alley Map
Tornado Alley Map | Source

Other Tornado Facts

Highest winds observed in a tornado: An F-5 tornado on May 3, 1999 in Oklahoma City had winds measured at 301 mph.

Longest damage path and duration: The aforementioned Tri-State Tornado covered 219 miles and lasted 3.5 hours.

Most tornadoes in 24-hour period: April 26, 2011 saw 206 tornadoes during 24 hours accounting for 349 deaths.

Deadliest tornado ever: April 26, 1989, a tornado in Bangladesh killed 1300 people.

Widest damage path: May 22, 2004 in Hallam, Nebraska, a tornado was measured at 2.5 miles in width.

Time to take a poll!

Have you ever experienced a tornado?

See results

2012 Is Not Over

As far as sheer numbers are concerned, 2012 has been a fairly average year for tornado activity in the United States. The tornado year began on January 9th when a small F-1 touched down in Mission Bend, Texas. So far for the year, 885 tornadoes have been recorded accounting for only 68 deaths.

Despite great advances in technology, there still is no accurate way of predicting a tornado in adequate time to warn citizens. Doppler radar makes it possible to spot supercell storm activity, but where an actual tornado will touch down is still a matter of mystery. The best that is produced to date is a warning that tornadoes are “likely” in any given area.

Until the day arrives when scientists find an accurate warning system, residents in Tornado Alley will continue to look to the skies and cross their fingers in hopes that the “Big One” does not come a’callin’.

Authors note: The 2013 season has gone now, and new destruction rained down on the United States as it did in 2012. More deaths were recorded in Texas, Missouri, Iowa and other midwest states. The early warning systems certainly help but they can never adequately warn us for a funnel cloud that will suddenly appear and create widespread destruction.

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

"Helping writers to spread their wings and fly."


Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hello yourself, duffultin!

    • profile image

      duffultin 3 years ago

      hello

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, they are majestically horrible, the unbridled power of nature....and I hope I never see another one. Thank you for the visit.

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 3 years ago from Orange, Texas

      It is hard to look at videos or pictures of tornadoes and not believe in God. There is nothing else that would have that kind of power.

      I lived in Tornado Alley in Lincoln, Nebr. for 13 years and never saw one. Then, as I was coming back from Florida about 20 years ago, coming through Mississippi, I saw one from a distance. Thankfully!

      Interesting information, billybuc. I hope we never see an F-6, but the way these storms are coming, we just might. The Bible says there will be more.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, trayvon, keep your head down and remember to duck. :) Thanks for the visit.

    • profile image

      trayvon 3 years ago

      i where all the places tornadoes comes from

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      TCOLUNGA, a very sad day for sure. Thank you for sharing your personal story with us. I hope you never have to experience one of these monsters.

    • profile image

      TCOLUNGA 4 years ago

      My mother and grandparents were in the Waco tornadoe. Their house needed to be rebuilt but everyone in my family survived. Unfortunantly, not so for many others. My uncle helped in the clean up which included tryng to get the bodies out of the buildings. I heard graphic and gory details making me deathly afraid of tornadoes. My mother said there were a lot of people who went into the basements only to drown when the buildings fell and they were trapped in the water. Such a sad day for Waco.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Audrey, I have said many times, it wouldn't be the tornado that killed me....it would be the heart attack as it approached me. :) Let's hope neither of us ever has to experience one firsthand.

      Thank you my friend!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Tennessee has its share of Tornadoes and I don't mind admitting they scare me do death. Many homes are protected by basements, but not mine. I live in a fairly safe area as far as tornadoes go because the hills act as a shield.

      Sure enjoyed this hub Bill. I liked hearing about the five most destructing tornadoes, but very sad for those who live and die because of them. My vote is up and away and sharing.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Nylarej, although I am fascinated by weather, I am with you on this one...I have no desire to see one of these up close. Thank you for the visit!

    • nylarej profile image

      nylarej 4 years ago from Ph

      Great collection of history of Tornado! I have never seen or experienced tornado. And I so hope and pray I won't ever experience it as I am very scared of natural calamities.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      mvillecat, they are truly terrifying and I hope I never see one up close....the one I have seen was five miles away and I was driving (quickly) in the opposite direction. Thanks for the visit!

    • mvillecat profile image

      Catherine Dean 4 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

      I am from Georgia and had never heard about the Gainesville two tornadoes before now. How scary it must have been to witness them coming together...I cannot imagine. My mom always talked about the super outbreak in the 70s and the tornado that went through Warner Robins, GA and killed a lot of people. I have been in the same area of a funnel cloud but never been hit by one, thank goodness. I voted up.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Howdy Vespa, and thanks for the visit. I probably wouldn't survive one of these bad boys because I'd die of a heart attack before it ever got to me. LOL They scare the heck out of me and I'm glad I live where I live.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      Having grown up in "tornado alley", this hub scares the wits out of me! Happily, I've never experienced a tornado but have seen some from a distance. The science behind how they form is fascinating and well-written. I hadn't heard of most of these destructive tornadoes. Of course, my knowledge of tornadoes up to this point was mostly from the movie "Twister". : ) Voted up and shared...with a trembling hand!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Ricky! The power is beyond my imagination; certainly hope I never witness one of these bad boys.

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 4 years ago from West Virginia

      Bill, very interesting article on tornadoes. Wow, I didn't know they were tracking them in the 20s. They are very destructive for sure. I remember watching Joplin on tv and it was terrible. Could you only imagine 300 mph winds, just scary. Great job Bill.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Suzette, I have always been fascinated by the weather, and although we know a great deal more than we did when we were kids, there are still mysteries that we have no clue about, and tornadoes are one of them. They seem to be impossible to predict with any accuracy and that is frightening.

      Thanks for the visit my friend!

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 4 years ago from Taos, NM

      Very interesting and informative article. In Ohio we have tornadoes and in Florida, hurricanes. But, tornadoes scare me more because they can come up so quickly and do so much damage. With hurricanes, at least we get a warning, but lately, after the hurricanes hit in Florida, they spawn tornadoes and it is the tornadoes that really do more of the damage. I never knew that before. It is Mother Nature letting us know she really is in charge! Thanks for this article.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Suzie, for sure....me too! Thanks for the visit!

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 4 years ago from Asheville, NC

      Makes me glad I live here in the mountains. Great Hub!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Relationshipc, it unlike anything I have ever experienced, and hopefully I never will. I had someone from Oklahoma write to me and tell me they have never seen one, which I find amazing considering that state gets so many of them.

      Thanks for the visit!

    • Relationshipc profile image

      Kari 4 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Wow - over 1200 tornadoes a year? Since an f6 tornado is very unlikely, I'm assuming that the winds are in the lower end of the f5 tornado at 261mph...I couldn't even imagine what that would be like.

      When I was young there was a tornado in our city, but I only remember staring out the back window and then my mom shoveling me off downstairs. It did quite a bit of damage to the city (not our house) and I can still feel the fear in my mom. Even though I've never experienced them first hand as an adult, I have a fear of them tearing up the house when a huge storm hits. I imagine many people are like this.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lea, this is the first comment I have read this morning and what a wonderful way to start the day. You are right, of course, I have no idea how many I have inspired. That's the nature of the internet.....there is an impersonal part to it that leaves one feeling disconnected with the audience. Thank you for telling me that; I needed encouragement this morning and who is more encouraging than you?

      Thank you so much Lea! Have a wonderful day!

    • Sparklea profile image

      Sparklea 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      Billybuc: Voted up, useful and interesting. Tremendous valuable information and I am in awe of your research and knowledge. Thank you for the "F" table ...never knew the intensity of those 'F's'...Also the videos! The minute I read your title, I KNEW you would post pictures and videos!

      You are an incredible inspiration! I checked out your website, it is phenomenal. You will be here a long, long time, as God is not done with you...you have SO MUCH to offer and you probably have no idea of the multitudes of readers you have inspired with your writing, your knowledge and your heart. God bless you real good, Sparklea :)

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 4 years ago from Mason City

      Your welcome.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Mel; we are just lucky in that we get most of them and the rest of the world can just watch. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I haven't either, Martin, and for that I am grateful. Thank you!

    • MelChi profile image

      Melanie Chisnall 4 years ago from Cape Town, South Africa

      Living across the ocean we can only begin to imagine what these masses of natural destruction do from what we see on TV and what we hear in the news. I knew Oklahoma had tornadoes, but not Texas! Scary....

      Thanks for sharing Bill - very interesting article!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this. Fortunately I have never personally experience a tornado myself.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Small world Gail; thanks for that update!

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 4 years ago from Mason City

      Me, too. I would never want to see a tornado close up. I use to live in a small town called Elma, which wasn't too far from Charles City. It hit Elma after it hit Charles City in 1968 (May 15 around 5:25 p.m.).

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dianna, it is beyond my comprehension! I have read stories of people being lifted up and dropped, alive, a mile away. I would die from fright long before being deposited a mile away. :)

      Thank you once again!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      When we moved to Florida, hurricane Wilma greeted us. I have been in tornadoes while living in the midwest, and I have to say that between the two forces, a tornado is much more frightening. I didn't know how they rated these storms and it is interesting to see how high the winds are within these funnels. I can't imagine being in winds that high: 379! Voted up.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Unbelievable my friend; I wish you well and send prayers your way. If you want rain we have more than our share here; we'll be more than happy to let you move here and soak some of it up. The weather is just bizarre no matter where you look; I hope it's a cycle and not the result of Earth's warming; at least with a cycle we know there will be an end to it at some point.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Our lake is only 40% full (Lake Travis). The drought actually started about 5 years ago. They are predicting 10 more years of drought. I wonder if we will survive. It reminds me of the Anasazi of the SW. Most of them died out due to drought. They think it may have contributed to the evacuation of many Mayan cities as well.

      Yes, a hurricane would be far preferable to this relentless dry heat. 100 year old trees are dying.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Gail, if you are in Mason City, Iowa, then you are talking about the Charles City tornado which I believe was in 1968. The only reason I know that is because that's where my mom and dad grew up, and the tornado wiped out the entire downtown section of the city.

      Thanks for the visit! I hope you never see one of these close up!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Mary! I've always been fascinated by weather and gladly it showed in this hub. I appreciate you and keep looking to the skies.

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 4 years ago from Mason City

      Very interesting and informative about tornadoes. I lived in a small town where one tornado struck, but I never saw the tornado itself. That was in 1968. Tornadoes are really scary! I always hope that none ever comes where I live, or where anyone else lives.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      I guess we're not in Kansas anymore! Tornado in Queens, NY?? That's scary...you sure outlined all the facts about tornadoes and all the biggies to date. You really know how to entertain your audience and keep em reading!

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, you know you shouldn't have said that, right? It's amazing there are many there who have never seen one; you certainly get your share each year. Thanks for the drop by and I'll see you soon!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Living in Tornado Alley, I have spoken to many Oklahomans that have never seen one. They have touched down in Stillwater, but they usually avoid us, I am thankful to say.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rhonda my friend, good to see you, and nothing can humble us like Nature! You explanation is as good as I have heard; hopefully I don't need any more humbling! :) Thank you!

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 4 years ago

      Very interesting hub, Bill. I often thing that tornadoes and other aspects of nature are reminders that we humans should be humble. For the power of nature is very great.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Austin, you guys have really taken it hard over the past year. If I remember correctly, this drought started last summer, didn't it? This is like a year of this going now, isn't it? That is crazy stuff and I can't imagine the hell the farmers and ranchers are going through. It has to be bad when you are wishing for a hurricane.

      Thank you for the visit and good luck down there.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      For sure PS! :)

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      O my..you gotta laugh.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Tornadoes in Texas are what prompted me to move to Maui. However, once I ran out of money, I had to return. Texas is my home, but we are always plagued by something. Currently it is the drought from hell. I almost wish there was a tornado around because that would mean rain.

      I would also love to see a good drenching hurricane hit the Texas gulf coast. The drought is costing more than a moderate hurricane.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      PS....that had me laughing....my friendly lion! Yes, I have watched that show....maybe if I were younger I would do that....maybe if I were drunk I would do that....today, sober and happy....no way!

      Thanks for the visit and the laugh PS!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey Mike, thank you for stopping by! I'm glad nobody was hurt; these things are very scary and oh, so dangerous. We get water spouts out on the bay occasionally, but they are more interesting than scary.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sasha, I have always found them fascinating, especially since I'm safe from them. :) Thank you young lady!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      billybuc...I admit it...tornadoes scare me. We have not had any strike directly in our area but we have had some in neighboring counties. None of the magnfitude you have described in these horrific storms but much devsatation nevertheless. Scary stuff.

      Have you ever watched the storm chasers? O my. I am not that brave.

      Voted WOW. Your Friend who is like the lion in the Wizard of Oz...ps

    • hazelwood4 profile image

      hazelwood4 4 years ago from Owensboro, Kentucky

      Hi Billy, We had a horrible tornado strike here in Owensboro, Kentucky a few years. It caused so much damage, but thank the good Lord no one was killed. Thank you for sharing all the interesting weather facts.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 4 years ago

      This is one of the reason's I like living in Oregon... very low tornado risk ^_^ While they scare me to no end they are still incredibly fascinating as is any natural disaster. I found your list of worst tornadoes extremely interesting. Voted a bunch.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pamela, the only good thing about your move was that there are fewer hurricanes than tornadoes....not sure how much comfort that is. LOL Thank you my friend!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Cyndi, I never have lived anywhere like tornado alley, but if I did I can promise you I wouldn't ignore any watches or warnings. Thanks for the visit my friend!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ann, thank you! That was my hope, to simplify and yet still highlight the destructive nature of these beasts.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      You did a great job with this article on terrifying tornadoes. I used to live in a area where tornadoes where fairly common, but never was directly hit. Now I live where hurricanes can hit. LOL

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 4 years ago from Georgia

      Really good information. We go through share of warnings in Metro Atlanta with an occasional touch down. When they do touch down the destruction is bad. The fall and the spring are scariest with the level of storms we now have. I don't ignore those watches and warnings anymore. Well written.

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 4 years ago from Orange, Texas

      Nice explanation of how a tornado is formed. You made it easy for a layman, like myself to understand! Good info.

      Voted up.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mike, I actually write for a business whose owners have family in Joplin, so I was slightly in the know when it happened and immediately following. The stories I heard broke my heart; the city where my parents grew up in Iowa was leveled in '68; I had been there as a child and had fond memories of it, and then to see pictures of it after the tornado.....there are no words to describe that kind of destruction.

      I'm glad you approved of this hub; I was thinking of you as I posted it, hoping that it did some justice. I didn't want it to be my normal emotional hub, but rather a straight-forward account of damage and loss.

      Thank you my friend!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, I know how grateful I am not to be living in tornado alley. My folks hometown of Charles City, Iowa, was completely destroyed back in '68....these suckers do unbelievable damage. I simply can't imagine the power involved or that kind of devastation.

      Thanks buddy; hope you are having a great late summer.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      oooooooo...spooky...scary....I actually remember the scuttlebutt on the Lubbock Texas Tornado. I guess the Tornado of Lawton, Oklahoma, around "72 wasn't wicked enough to warrant National headlines? My sister was living there at the time.......I remember her calling us at home in New York to tell us everyone had been advised/warned to take low shelter and the military from the local Army bases had been put on alert.

      Auntie EM...Uncle Henry....I can't find ToTo!!!!!!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Martie, scary doesn't even scratch the surface when talking about these killer storms. Nature will have its way and all too often the destruction is almost Biblical in proportions. Amazingly, people live in that area and survive, year after year. They pick up the pieces and carry on, and I find it incredible. Thank you for sharing this hub!

    • Mr Archer profile image

      Mr Archer 4 years ago from Missouri

      Great hub, Billy. As you said in your previous comment to me, yes, Joplin has been through the wringer. As the video you posted opens, it is 1 mile south of where I lived. The road is Central City Road, traveling South from 20th St. As the tornado touches down, I am outside grilling. When the baseball sized hail hit, I went inside. I still have some of this hail in my freezer. I have tried to get The Weather Channel to take it, as I think dissecting it might give some inside look at the formation of a tornado. The next scene is on Blackcat Road again looking south next to Twin Hills Country Club. This is just seconds before Will Norton was killed. He was found in a shallow pond days later. Moments after that, it hit St. John's Hospital, St. Mary's Church, and Irving School. The little black box used at the hospital on the helipad was broken at a wind speed of over 340 mph. The final scene is looking south on Main Street. At 2:30, you can see a local day care, the Dinosaur Academy. Then, at 2:40 comes the remains of Sleepy Girl's Books, and at 2:56 the remnants of Arby's. If you have not done so, please read my hub "Hell's Half Hour" detailing my perspective on that horrible day. Also, one final note: a small, folded up piece of paper from a local auto repair shop was found in Indiana several days later, some 600 miles from Joplin. It was kept aloft the entire distance by this storm. Something to remember. Great hub as always, voted Up, Awesome, and Interesting, but I cannot call it Beautiful: it is still too near. Still, it is what you are great at: information, detailed and thorough, and presented in a masterful manner. Thank you, Sir. You are a Master.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 4 years ago from South Africa

      billybuc, this is a very interesting hub about the five most destructive tornadoes in the USA. Down here in SA we have strong winds from time to time, but seldom if ever tornadoes. So I found this hub extremely interesting and terribly scary.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Amy! My family is from Iowa and I have heard some horror stories, but never really been close enough to one of these bad boys to be afraid. Come on out to Washington; we only have to concern ourselves with earthquakes. :)

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I can't help but recall my brother's comment wondering "why anyone would want to live in Missouri" as a valid observation. In addition to the abysmal current rate of shootings, Joplin, MO can now claim the most destructive tornado in U.S. history. Quite an impressive claim to fame!

      Great read, Bill, with interesting facts and a fantastic twister photo worthy of a painting.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sharyn, I learned a few things doing this hub! Yes, 2.5 miles wide...that is beyond anything I can imagine....and the one tornado that went hundreds of miles without breaking up...usually they touch down, do some damage in a centralize location, and then disappear....but hundreds of miles? Thank God we rarely see them here in Washington.

      Thanks my friend; glad you enjoyed it.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Wow, I really enjoyed this. I don't mean to "copy cat" Julie above but Mother Nature does fascinate me also. Years ago, I thought about being a meteorologist, back when it wasn't "cool" and rarely did you see woman doing the weather on TV. The destruction that you describe with these tornado's is horrific. I know we've had bad tornado's over the years in Ohio but not like those on the top of the list. And oh my, a 2.5 mile wide tornado, geez, I wouldn't have imagined that fact. Great hub Billy!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mperrottet, National Geographic just did an article on the unusual weather of late. 2011 was a record-breaking year for horrific weather occurrences....let's hope that's the end of it for awhile. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Julie, I have always been a weather geek! Weather fascinates me and always will. Glad you enjoyed it and yes, let's hope you never have to experience one of these bad boys!

    • Julie DeNeen profile image

      Blurter of Indiscretions 4 years ago from Clinton CT

      I've always been so fascinated by tornadoes, but I've never experienced one thank God. This hub was really interested, especially for a weather geek like me! :)

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 4 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

      There seem to be more tornadoes in the Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey area than ever before. I live in New Jersey just across the bridge from Philadelphia, and we've had a few hit locally this year. They're pretty frightening. Great hub!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Joseph; just taking a break from the serious, political and social commentary; thought I'd revert back to my teaching days. Much appreciated buddy; keep looking to the skies!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rich, my son when he was two was probably in the same league as your grandson. LOL Thanks for the laugh and I hope I only see tornadoes on television the rest of my life.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Keith, I'm always surprised when I hear reports of them in our state....but in truth every state has them occasionally....even Alaska!

      Thanks buddy!

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 4 years ago

      Awesome hub with a warning as en epilogue. Have missed the one the KDuBarry mentioned. But nobody is really safe. If you guys don't see is commenting in 4 days, then just worry. Great statistics and facts billy. Thanks for your efforts!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      LL....people always ask us if we are afraid, living in an earthquake zone....we never give it any thought. I would wonder the same thing about people living in tornado alley, and I'm sure they would say about the same thing....but darn it, those things look scary!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Cyndi, how could Mother Nature not be fascinated by tornadoes? LOL Thanks lil' Sis; always a pleasure to see you here.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      RTalloni, they are incredible storms....the power is unbelievable. I have seen pictures of a piece of straw driven into a tree trunk by the wind....think about that for a second.

      Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      TT, can you imagine going into a shelter to get away from death and have snakes crawling around....I'm not sure I wouldn't go back outside. Thanks for that rather gruesome addition to the discussion.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tammy, I saw one from two miles away, and that's as close as i ever want to be to one. Thanks my crochet master.

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

      Bill -

      The most destructive tornado ever witnessed was my grandson at two years old! Stories will be told for years as the dollar value is still being computed.

      Actually, in the late 70's a semi driver in front and I, in my VW Beetle, behind, chanced racing one outside of Columbus, Oh. We got lucky. The cars hiding under the overpasses did not, as much damage was incurred. Great and informative hub, my friend!

    • profile image

      KDuBarry03 4 years ago

      Yikes, Burlington County and Camden County in NJ just got hit with tornadoes, I heard. They're interesting to study, but not fuun when they're right next door to you, LOL! Great Hub, Bill!

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City

      As a resident of tornado alley, I have a morbid fascination with the topic of tornadoes. I believe the weather people in Oklahoma City are the finest I've ever encountered.

      Great article; voted up and shared.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 4 years ago from Western NC

      Nice job, teach. :D Tornadoes are interesting, though I would never want to be a storm chaser when I grow up. Hehehe.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      An interesting look at tornadoes. The 5 other facts about them are nothing short of amazing.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      My mom was terrified of snakes and tornadoes. She grew up on the border of Texas and Oklahoma. I grew up listening to her tell stories about finding snakes in their tornado shelter when they would take shelter from the raging tornadoes. I've been lucky to never have been in one, only witnesses some from a distance in Florida.

      Interesting information, Bill. Thank you for the tornado history lesson. :)

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      This is a very cool hub and will be great for anyone doing a research report. They are fascinating, but I hope to never see another as long as I live. Excellent!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I saw one in Minneapolis from a distance of about two miles, and that's as close as I ever want to be to one. The town where my family is from, Charles City, Iowa, was completely destroyed back in the late 60's. They are a marvel to behold and terrifying for sure, and I'm very glad you made it out safely....a lunch tent is not my idea of great protection. LOL

      Thank you my dear; you are so good to me!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Bill, so interesting as usual. I myself was actually outside in one under a lunch tent while working at a local children's camp when I was younger teaching pre-school aged kids. They could not evacuate us apparently quickly enough as the storm itself came in suddenly, so we had to stay under the lunch tented area with these small kids and ride out the storm. We indeed did just that, but man this was one of the scariest times of my life. Also, I have taught about tornadoes in 8th grade science and my father-in-law used to travel on business trips to Oklahoma in his youth and will always share stories of tornadoes he had been there for and lived through. Your article was so very informative and excellent job. Have voted, shared and tweeted too!!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Pooja, you are so kind to me! Thank you my young friend; this hub shows the teacher in me; every once in a while I just have to do an educational hub. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Michelle, thank you; I have always been fascinated by tornadoes....incredible power!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Carol; these hubs teach me to be more structured in my writing, rather than the "off the top of my head" social commentaries. I appreciate your support more than you know.

    • poojasd7 profile image

      poojasd7 4 years ago from India

      It is commendable that you write on an eclectic range of topics. I just love to read about something which I do not know about. Such hubs like yours, just quench my thirst for more knowledge.

      Thanks Bill for sharing an interesting piece of information, written in a structured and organized way. :-)

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Interesting and detailed, Bill. Thanks for the fascinating tornado facts!!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      Always interesting to learn new things. I knew there had been destructive tornadoes before but not to this extent. The photos are great and always a wonderful and informative hub by you. Up and Share.