June 1966 tornado outbreak sequence

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June 1966 tornado outbreak sequence
A photograph of the F5 Topeka, Kansas tornado.
Date of tornado outbreak: June 3–12
Duration1: ~11 days
Maximum rated tornado2: F5 tornado
Tornadoes caused: 57
Highest winds:
Largest hail:
Damages: $250.603 million (1966 USD)
$694.79 million (2008 USD)
Fatalities: 18
Areas affected: Most of the Great Plains and parts of the Eastern United States

1Time from first tornado to last tornado
2Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita Scale

The June 1966 tornado outbreak sequence[nb 1][nb 2] was a series of tornado outbreaks which occurred between June 2 and June 12.

The most destructive tornado of this event occurred on the early evening of June 8, 1966, when Topeka, Kansas was struck by an F5 rated tornado. It started on the southwest side of town, moving northeast, passing through several subdivisions and over a local landmark named Burnett's Mound. 57 tornadoes were confirmed during the 11-day span, which left 18 people dead and 543 injured.

Topeka, Kansas tornado[edit]

According to a local Native American legend, Burnett's Mound (a local landmark that was named after Potawatomi Indian chief Abram Burnett, and also believed to be an ancient Native American burial ground) was thought to protect the city from tornadoes, suggesting that the 250 feet (76 m) hill would cause a tornado that was approaching Topeka to disintegrate. A few years earlier, a water tower had been built directly on the mound, which sparked controversy among many Topeka residents as they felt it would negatively affect the mound's ability to keep the city safe from tornadic activity. However, ten other tornadoes had struck the city since Kansas state tornado records were first kept in 1887. The 1966 tornado was significantly stronger than the other ten tornadoes that struck Topeka prior to June 8.[2]

The Topeka tornado began developing at 6:55 p.m. Central Time on June 8, touching down 8 miles (13 km) west of the city. The National Weather Service could not detect the developing tornado on radar as the Topeka forecast office used a modified military radar that was donated by the U.S. government following World War II. While it was considered state-of-the-art for its time, it had a limited ability to detect tornadic activity, compared to the Doppler weather radar of the present day. Around 7:30 p.m., a 1/4 to 1/2-mile (400–800 m) wide tornado tracked into the southwest side of town, moving northeast, and passed over Burnett's Mound. Bill Kurtis, then a reporter for WIBW-TV (channel 13; then a hybrid CBS/ABC/NBC affiliate, now only affiliated with CBS) wanted to get people the message to take shelter from the devastating storm, ultimately advising viewers to get to safety by urging in a calm but stern manner, "for God's sake, take cover!"

Damage path of the 1966 Topeka Tornado.
Damage in downtown Topeka.

After broadcasting a take-cover report on the air while driving down the winding road on Burnett's Mound with the tornado approaching his direction, Rick Douglass, a reporter for radio station WREN (1250 AM, now KYYS), attempted to take shelter under an overpass, while trying to do a second live report on the storm. Douglass was carried by the tornado, becoming airborne for a few seconds, and was dropped over one block away. Douglass, whose clothes were ripped from his body, was pushed by the strong winds along the ground until the tornado passed on to make a six-block swath across Topeka. Douglas was found with dirt and debris covering his body. When he arrived at an area hospital, a nurse placed a cover over Douglas's face – believing he had perished; in an interview with The History Channel's Wrath of God, Douglass stated that he then pulled off the cover, resulting in the attending nurse wincing in reaction; Douglass found shards of debris in his skin for several years after the tornado and was left with a smell he described in the interview as "a mix of blood, guts, wood and metal" for several weeks.

Many homes were swept completely away in residential areas of Topeka.

The tornado first struck residential areas, cleanly sweeping away entire rows of homes and hurling vehicles hundreds of yards through the air. Grass was scoured from the ground as well, according to eyewitnesses.[3] Washburn University took a direct hit from the tornado, and many of the large stone buildings on campus were badly damaged or destroyed.[3] A 300-pound section of stone wall was torn from one building and thrown two miles away.[4] One vehicle on campus was reportedly lofted and thrown over the top of the university's ROTC building, before coming to rest on the 50-yard line of the football field.[5] The tornado went on to rip through the central part of the city, hitting the downtown area. Buses were crushed as the transportation barn was collapsed by the tornado and the trains on the Santa Fe Railway were overturned. Most of the downtown buildings were badly damaged or had their windows blown out. Cars were flipped and tossed, and streets were blocked with debris. Many workers at the AT&T building downtown took shelter after a co-worker notified people of the approaching tornado, which they could not hear through the soundproof operating room. The building was hit, but only light damage occurred. The Kansas State Capitol building also experienced minor damage.

Ironically as the storm raged on past the downtown area, meteorologists at the National Weather Service Topeka forecast office (located at Philip Billard Municipal Airport) had to take shelter as well, as the tornado tracked through the airport, flipping over several airplanes. At 7:29 p.m., 34 minutes after it touched down, the tornado dissipated after ripping through the airport; by this point, the tornado had traversed 22 miles (35 km) of the city, with a damage path width of 1/2 mile (800 m). The most intense damage occurred in residential areas on the east side of town, partly due to the close proximity of housing units. Homes and other buildings along the tornado's path were completely obliterated, and the National Weather Service Topeka forecast office years later rated this tornado as an F5 on the Fujita scale.

Then-mayor Chuck Wright later issued a decree that those caught looting would be shot on sight. The Kansas National Guard was called in to handle the situation. Streets in devastated areas of the city were filled with sightseers checking out the ruins of homes and businesses, hampering efforts from first responders to find those missing under rubble. Families of victims also came onto the scene to try to find those missing.

The total damage estimate was put at $250 million (US$ 727 million in 2014) making it one of the costliest tornadoes in U.S. history. Even to this day, with inflation factored in, the Topeka tornado stands as the seventh costliest tornado on record.[citation needed] 820 homes were destroyed and 3,000 others were damaged. 250 businesses were destroyed and 2,330 were damaged including a major shopping center. 330 of the damaged homes and businesses suffered major damage and the other 5,000 received lesser degrees of damage. Hundreds of apartments were destroyed. Many government buildings, public buildings, other structures and much other property were damaged or destroyed.

Overall, 16 people were killed, and many others were injured. However, it is believed that had the tornado hit during school and work hours or during the night, that as many as 5,000 people would have been killed. Bill Kurtis was credited for saving many lives with his urgent message to take cover.

Casualties[edit]

Outbreak death toll
State Total County County
total
Kansas 17 Leavenworth 1
Shawnee 16
Illinois 1 Cook 1
Totals 18
All deaths were tornado-related

Confirmed tornadoes[edit]

  • 5 Tornadoes were confirmed but were not given an F-Scale intensity.
Confirmed
Total
Confirmed
F0
Confirmed
F1
Confirmed
F2
Confirmed
F3
Confirmed
F4
Confirmed
F5
57 12 17 18 2 2 1

June 3 event[edit]

List of reported tornadoes - Friday, June 3, 1966
F#
County
Coord.
Time (UTC)
Path length
Damage
South Dakota
F? Aurora 43°54′N 98°54′W / 43.9°N 98.9°W / 43.9; -98.9 2300 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown, no damage reported. Tornado was confirmed but was not given a rating.
F0 Yankton 42°54′N 97°24′W / 42.9°N 97.4°W / 42.9; -97.4 0200 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown, no damage reported.
Sources:

[3],[6]

June 4 event[edit]

List of reported tornadoes - Saturday, June 4, 1966
F#
County
Coord.
Time (UTC)
Path length
Damage
Colorado
F0 Logan 40°56′N 103°11′W / 40.93°N 103.18°W / 40.93; -103.18 2300 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown, no damage reported.
Wisconsin
F2 Oconto 45°01′N 88°23′W / 45.02°N 88.38°W / 45.02; -88.38 0100 5.4 miles (8.7 km) First of the F2 triplet tornadoes in Oconto County. Barns were destroyed.
F2 Oconto 44°57′N 88°20′W / 44.95°N 88.33°W / 44.95; -88.33 0100 4.9 miles (7.9 km) Second of the F2 triplet tornadoes in Oconto County.
F2 Oconto 44°53′N 88°18′W / 44.88°N 88.3°W / 44.88; -88.3 0100 4.7 miles (7.6 km) Last of the F2 triplet tornadoes in Oconto County.
Nebraska
F? Morrill 41°44′N 102°52′W / 41.73°N 102.87°W / 41.73; -102.87 0148 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown, no damage reported.
South Dakota
F2 Gregory 43°14′N 99°26′W / 43.23°N 99.43°W / 43.23; -99.43 330 1 mile (1.6 km) 1.5 mile wide tornado caused severe damage.

June 5 event[edit]

List of reported tornadoes - Sunday, June 5, 1966
F#
County
Coord.
Time (UTC)
Path length
Damage
Nebraska
F2 Boone 41°42′N 98°10′W / 41.7°N 98.17°W / 41.7; -98.17 0608 0.7 miles (1.1 km) 1 Injury Brief touchdown injured one person.
F? Madison 41°00′N 97°36′W / 41°N 97.6°W / 41; -97.6 0612 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown, no damage reported. Tornado was confirmed but was not given an F-Scale intensity.
Minnesota
F0 Pipestone 43°58′N 96°05′W / 43.97°N 96.08°W / 43.97; -96.08 1200 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown caused minor damage.
Oklahoma
F0 Baine 35°51′N 98°28′W / 35.85°N 98.47°W / 35.85; -98.47 2300 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown, no damage reported.
F2 Kay 36°50′N 97°24′W / 36.83°N 97.4°W / 36.83; -97.4 2350 2.5 miles (4.0 km) 1 Injury A house was pushed 12 feet off of its foundation and another was badly damaged. Barns were destroyed as well.
F0 Garfield 36°29′N 97°53′W / 36.48°N 97.88°W / 36.48; -97.88 0030 4.3 miles (6.9 km) No damage reported. First of four tornadoes to hit Garfield County in only 30 minutes.
F1 Grant 36°40′N 97°37′W / 36.67°N 97.62°W / 36.67; -97.62 0030 1.4 miles (2.3 km) Quarter-mile-wide tornado caused damage to structures.
F2 Garfield 36°28′N 97°53′W / 36.47°N 97.88°W / 36.47; -97.88 0035 0.1 miles (0.2 km) 6 Injuries Tornado struck Enid and caused $250,000 in damages. 3 trailers were destroyed and 3 others were damaged. 11 homes had their roofs torn off and 112 others were damaged. Boxcars were overturned and a truck garage was destroyed. Second of four tornadoes to hit Garfield County in only 30 minutes.
F0 Garfield 36°18′N 98°06′W / 36.3°N 98.1°W / 36.3; -98.1 0055 3.8 miles (6.1 km) Third of four tornadoes to hit Garfield County in only 30 minutes.
F1 Garfield 36°22′N 97°54′W / 36.37°N 97.9°W / 36.37; -97.9 0100 5.7 miles (9.2 km) Last of four tornadoes to hit Garfield County in only 30 minutes.
Missouri
F1 Gentry 40°14′N 94°17′W / 40.23°N 94.28°W / 40.23; -94.28 0000 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown caused minor damage.
Iowa
F2 Linn 42°17′N 91°30′W / 42.28°N 91.5°W / 42.28; -91.5 0430 0.1 miles (0.2 km)

June 6 event[edit]

List of reported tornadoes - Monday, June 6, 1966
F#
County
Coord.
Time (UTC)
Path length
Damage
Kentucky
F2 McCracken, Madison 36°58′N 88°37′W / 36.97°N 88.62°W / 36.97; -88.62 1800 18.5 miles (29.8 km) 2 Injuries Long track tornado injured 2 people.
Florida
F1 Pinellas 27°55′N 82°45′W / 27.92°N 82.75°W / 27.92; -82.75 2030 0.3 miles (0.5 km) 1 Injury Brief touchdown.

June 7 event[edit]

List of reported tornadoes - Tuesday, June 7, 1966
F#
County
Coord.
Time (UTC)
Path length
Damage
Kansas
F? Wallace 38°51′N 101°42′W / 38.85°N 101.7°W / 38.85; -101.7 2310 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown, no damage reported. Tornado was confirmed but was not given an F-Scale intensity.
F0 McPherson 38°12′N 97°31′W / 38.2°N 97.52°W / 38.2; -97.52 2330 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown caused minor damage.
F? Ellis 38°47′N 99°29′W / 38.78°N 99.48°W / 38.78; -99.48 0100 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown caused minor damage. Tornado was confirmed but was not given an F-Scale intensity.
Missouri
F0 Stoddard 37°06′N 89°55′W / 37.1°N 89.92°W / 37.1; -89.92 2330 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown caused minor damage.
Oklahoma
F0 Ellis 37°06′N 89°55′W / 37.1°N 89.92°W / 37.1; -89.92 0000 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown, no damage reported.

June 8 event[edit]

List of reported tornadoes - Wednesday, June 8, 1966
F#
County
Coord.
Time (UTC)
Path length
Damage
Florida
F0 Miami-Dade 25°45′N 80°15′W / 25.75°N 80.25°W / 25.75; -80.25 1200 4.9 miles (7.9 km) No damage reported.
F1 Miami-Dade 25°36′N 80°18′W / 25.6°N 80.3°W / 25.6; -80.3 1700 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown caused minor damage.
Kansas
F0 Rice 38°15′N 98°24′W / 38.25°N 98.4°W / 38.25; -98.4 2118 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown, no damage reported.
F2 Clay 39°08′N 97°09′W / 39.13°N 97.15°W / 39.13; -97.15 2337 8.9 miles (14.3 km) Caused damage to farms.
F3 Riley 39°04′N 96°46′W / 39.07°N 96.77°W / 39.07; -96.77 0000 13.8 miles (22.2 km) At least 65 Injuries. Enormous 1.2 mile wide tornado, caused $5 million in damage in Manhattan. KSU campus sustained $1,850,000 in damage alone. 11 homes were destroyed and others were unroofed. An apartment building and 66 trailers were destroyed as well.[7]
F5 Shawnee 38°55′N 95°55′W / 38.92°N 95.92°W / 38.92; -95.92 0100 21.1 miles (34.0 km) 16 Deaths 450 Injuries. See section on this tornado
F2 Leavenworth 39°14′N 95°02′W / 39.23°N 95.03°W / 39.23; -95.03 0115 8.2 miles (13.2 km) Trailers were destroyed and a home was unroofed. First of two tornadoes to hit Leavenworth County.
F4 Leavenworth 39°10′N 95°11′W / 39.17°N 95.18°W / 39.17; -95.18 0200 19.9 miles (32.0 km) 1 Death 2 Injuries. One home was leveled and a car was thrown and destroyed. Second of two tornadoes to hit Leavenworth County.
Oklahoma
F1 Caddo 35°29′N 98°24′W / 35.48°N 98.4°W / 35.48; -98.4 2330 0.5 miles (0.8 km) Brief touchdown caused minor damage.
F0 Washita 35°18′N 98°48′W / 35.3°N 98.8°W / 35.3; -98.8 0000 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown, no damage reported.
F0 Caddo 35°10′N 98°12′W / 35.17°N 98.2°W / 35.17; -98.2 0120 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown, no damage reported.

June 9 event[edit]

List of reported tornadoes - Thursday, June 9, 1966
F#
County
Coord.
Time (UTC)
Path length
Damage
Illinois
F0 Cook 42°06′N 88°01′W / 42.1°N 88.02°W / 42.1; -88.02 1110 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown, no damage reported.
F2 Cook 42°06′N 88°01′W / 42.1°N 88.02°W / 42.1; -88.02 1115 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown.
F2 Cook 42°06′N 87°56′W / 42.1°N 87.93°W / 42.1; -87.93 1120 2.5 miles (4.0 km) 1 Death 30 Injuries Tornado unroofed homes and apartment buildings in the area. A trailer was destroyed as well.
Florida
F1 Jackson 30°48′N 85°14′W / 30.8°N 85.23°W / 30.8; -85.23 1200 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown caused minor damage.
F? Jackson 30°48′N 85°14′W / 30.8°N 85.23°W / 30.8; -85.23 1605 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown, no damage reported. Tornado was confirmed but was not given an F-Scale intensity.
Michigan
F2 Barry 42°15′N 85°23′W / 42.25°N 85.38°W / 42.25; -85.38 1400 2 miles (3.2 km) Tornado caused moderate damage in the area.
New York
F0 Erie 42°38′N 78°33′W / 42.63°N 78.55°W / 42.63; -78.55 2200 1 mile (1.6 km) Brief touchdown caused minor damage.

June 10 event[edit]

List of reported tornadoes - Friday, June 10, 1966
F#
County
Coord.
Time (UTC)
Path length
Damage
Texas
F2 Swisher 34°21′N 101°44′W / 34.35°N 101.73°W / 34.35; -101.73 0130 36.9 miles (59.4 km) Long track tornado.
F1 Swisher 34°21′N 101°44′W / 34.35°N 101.73°W / 34.35; -101.73 0130 2 miles (3.2 km) Brief touchdown, no damage reported.
F0 Swisher 34°39′N 101°30′W / 34.65°N 101.5°W / 34.65; -101.5 0130 2 miles (3.2 km) Brief touchdown, no damage reported.

June 11 event[edit]

List of reported tornadoes - Saturday, June 11, 1966
F#
County
Coord.
Time (UTC)
Path length
Damage
Minnesota
F1 Minnesota 47°11′N 95°55′W / 47.18°N 95.92°W / 47.18; -95.92 2115 1.9 miles (3.1 km) Brief touchdown caused minor damage.
F4 Crow Wing, Cass 46°38′N 94°22′W / 46.63°N 94.37°W / 46.63; -94.37 2300 72.8 miles (117.2 km) Very long track half-mile-wide tornado completely leveled several farms, and damaged at least 20 others. Two homes sustained near F5-damage with only clean slabs remaining. Thousands of trees were snapped and 3 people were injured.
Iowa
F2 Polk 41°34′N 93°33′W / 41.57°N 93.55°W / 41.57; -93.55 2345 12.2 miles (19.6 km)
F2 Mitchell 43°23′N 92°54′W / 43.38°N 92.9°W / 43.38; -92.9 0100 1 mile (1.6 km)
F1 Marshall 41°50′N 92°58′W / 41.83°N 92.97°W / 41.83; -92.97 0145 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown caused minor damage.
F2 Boone 42°05′N 93°52′W / 42.08°N 93.87°W / 42.08; -93.87 0230 2 miles (3.2 km)
F1 Story 42°12′N 93°24′W / 42.2°N 93.4°W / 42.2; -93.4 0300 2 miles (3.2 km) Brief touchdown caused minor damage.

June 12 event[edit]

List of reported tornadoes - Sunday, June 12, 1966
F#
County
Coord.
Time (UTC)
Path length
Damage
Kansas
F1 Douglas 39°03′N 95°27′W / 39.05°N 95.45°W / 39.05; -95.45 2201 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown caused minor damage.
Missouri
F0 Clay 39°18′N 94°31′W / 39.3°N 94.52°W / 39.3; -94.52 2245 0.1 miles (0.2 km) Brief touchdown, no damage reported.
F1 Monroe 39°31′N 92°10′W / 39.52°N 92.17°W / 39.52; -92.17 2330 0.2 miles (0.3 km) Brief touchdown caused minor damage.
Texas
F3 Denton 33°18′N 97°00′W / 33.3°N 97.0°W / 33.3; -97.0 0045 3.6 miles (5.8 km)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Schneider, Russell S.; Harold E. Brooks; Joseph T. Schaefer. "Tornado Outbreak Day Sequences: Historic Events and Climatology (1875-2003)". Norman, Oklahoma: Storm Prediction Center. Retrieved 13 February 2013. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ a b "Stories of the 1966 Topeka Tornado". Washburn.edu. Washburn University. Retrieved December 23, 2013. 
  4. ^ by extremeplanet (2013-03-11). "Analysis of Violent Tornadoes that have Struck Downtown Areas |". Extremeplanet.me. Retrieved 2013-09-09. 
  5. ^ "Washburn university Devastation and Recovery". Washburn.edu. Washburn University. Retrieved December 23, 2013. 
  6. ^ [2][dead link]
  7. ^ "City Officials set Damage at $5 Million". Topeka Capital-Journal. 1966-06-10. Retrieved 2008-08-13. 

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ An outbreak is generally defined as a group of at least six tornadoes (the number sometimes varies slightly according to local climatology) with no more than a six-hour gap between individual tornadoes. An outbreak sequence, prior to (after) modern records that began in 1950, is defined as, at most, two (one) consecutive days without at least one significant (F2 or stronger) tornado.[1]
  2. ^ All damage totals are in 1966 United States dollars unless otherwise noted.

External links[edit]