1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes
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The 1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes were a system of related tornadoes that swept through Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas on April 9, 1947. Most of the damage and all the deaths are still blamed on one large F5 tornado, known as the Glazier-Higgins-Woodward Tornado, that traveled nearly 125 miles from Texas to Oklahoma. This tornado was often compared to the Tri-State Tornado, because it was originally thought to have left a 220 mile path, but it is now believed to have a been part of a family of 5 or 6 tornadoes. These tornadoes, although deadly, did not match the astounding death toll of the earlier event, nor did they match the record speed of that tornado, although at over 40 mph (64 km/h), they qualified as a fast tracking storm.
The tornadoes began in Texas. Just after the White Deer tornado dissipated, the first tornado of this event formed five miles (8 km) northwest of Pampa, Texas. The series of tornadoes would cut a path of destruction through three states, ending near St. Leo, Kansas. In Texas, the Glazier-Higgins-Woodward Tornado is believed to have started northwest of Canadian. When it struck the tiny town of Glazier, it may have been as much as two miles (3 km) wide. Press reports told of two people who were known to be together in Glazier before the tornado struck were found three miles (5 km) apart afterward. Most structures in the town were swept completely away. Glazier was considered completely destroyed, with 17 dead, a major percentage of the populace. Much of Higgins, Texas, on the Texas-Oklahoma border, was also destroyed—the accepted death toll here was 51; again, a major fraction of the residents of the town were killed or injured. Much of downtown Higgins was completely destroyed.
The tornado was at its worst in Oklahoma—this was the deadliest storm in that state's tornado-troubled history. Six more people were killed when the tornado passed south of Shattuck, Gage, and Fargo. The tornado then moved into Woodward, where it devastated the town and killed an estimated 107 people. The damage track in Woodward was two miles (3 km) wide and destroyed 100 city blocks. The tornado dissipated in Woods County, west of Alva, Oklahoma, while the tornado family pressed on to Kansas.
As the storm cell moved into Kansas, it weakened, although serious damage was still reported in Barber County before the last tornado dissipated north of Kingman County. Cleanup in the region was made more difficult because of cold and snow that followed the tornado. The Glazier-Higgins-Woodward tornado was the 6th deadliest in U.S. history, killing 181 and injuring 970.
Damage totals from the Red Cross
- Lipscomb County, Texas - 36 homes flattened, 1 damaged
- Hemphill County, Texas - 83 homes leveled, 116 damaged
- Texas total - $1,505,000
- Ellis County, Oklahoma - $1,264,000
- 52 homes destroyed, 133 damaged
- 223 other buildings destroyed, 107 damaged
- Woodward County, Oklahoma - $6,608,750
- 430 homes destroyed, 650 damaged
- 925 other buildings destroyed, 975 damaged
- Woods County, Oklahoma - $950,000
- 25 homes destroyed, 34 damaged
- 110 other buildings destroyed, 90 damaged
- Kansas total - $200,000
Total damage estimates were $747,850,050-$173,489,564 (2008 dollars).
- Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991, A Chronology and Analysis of Events. The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. ISBN 1-879362-00-7 (hardcover)
- Bedard, Richard (1997). In the Shadow of the Tornado. Gilco Publishing. ISBN 0-9649527-1-8 (paperback)
- Sanders, Kellie R., “‘The Wednesday Monster’: The Glazier-Higgins-Woodward F5 Tornado of April 9, 1947,” Panhandle-Plains Historical Review, 80 (2008), 23–44.Total damage estimates were $747,850,050-$173,489,564 (2008 dollars).
- Top Ten US Killer Tornadoes - #6 The Woodward Tornado
- The Woodward Tornado of April 9, 1947 (NWS Norman, OK)
|10 deadliest American tornadoes|
|1||"Tri-State" (Missouri, Illinois and Indiana)||March 18, 1925||695|
|2||Natchez, Mississippi||May 7, 1840||317|
|3||St. Louis, Missouri and East St. Louis, Illinois||May 27, 1896||255|
|4||Tupelo, Mississippi||April 5, 1936||216|
|5||Gainesville, Georgia||April 5, 1936||203|
|6||Woodward, Oklahoma||April 9, 1947||181|
|7||Joplin, Missouri||May 22, 2011||162|
|8||Amite, Louisiana and Purvis, Mississippi||April 24, 1908||143|
|9||New Richmond, Wisconsin||June 12, 1899||117|
||June 8, 1953
Source: Storm Prediction Center