List of tornado-related deaths at schools

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These are all known tornadoes resulting in student deaths at primary and secondary schools in the United States from 1884 - 2013.

List[edit]

Date Location (school) Local time (touchdown) Fatalities (school) Wikipedia article
June 28, 1865 Viroqua, Wisconsin[1] 4:00 p.m. 9
May 23, 1878 Mineral Point, Wisconsin[1] 3:00 p.m. 2
June 9, 1878 Augusta, Georgia[1] 3:00 p.m. 3
February 19, 1884 Goshen, Alabama[2] 2:30 p.m. 1 Enigma Tornado Outbreak
May 11, 1886 Kansas City, Missouri[3]  ?? 15
May 2, 1887 Wauseon, Ohio[2] 12:35 p.m. 1
June 14, 1888 Lexington, Oregon[1]  ?? 1
May 17, 1889 Forestburg, Texas[2] 4:00 p.m. 2
June 20, 1890 Paw Paw, Illinois[2] 2:30 p.m. 7
September 7, 1893 Lockport, Louisiana[2] 9:30 a.m. 3
May 3, 1895 Ireton - Hull, Iowa[2] 2:30 p.m. 7 Hull, Iowa Tornado Outbreak of 1895
May 27, 1896 Mexico - Bean, Missouri[2] 3:15 p.m. 4 St. Louis-East St. Louis Tornado / May 1896 tornado outbreak sequence
March 22, 1897 Arlington, Georgia[2] 8:30 a.m. 8
January 3, 1906 Josie - Banks, Alabama[2] 11:30 a.m. 2
March 13, 1913 Lawrenceburg, Tennessee[2] 1:45 p.m. 1 Southeast Tornado Outbreak of March 1913
January 4, 1917 Vireton, Oklahoma[2] 11:00 a.m. 16
February 23, 1917 Hollins, Alabama[2] 3:30 p.m. 2 Southeast Tornado Outbreak of February 1917
March 23, 1917 New Albany, Indiana[2] 3:08 p.m. 5 Mid-Mississippi Valley Tornado Outbreak of March 1917
January 11, 1918 Dothan - Cowarts, Alabama[2] 1:40 p.m. 8
November 4, 1922 Holyoke, Colorado[2] 9:30 a.m. 1 Great Plains Tornado Outbreak of November 1922
April 27, 1923 Johnson City, Kansas[2] 12:15 p.m. 1
April 30, 1924 Horrell Hill, South Carolina[2] 11:00 a.m. 7 Southeast Outbreak of April 1924
March 18, 1925 Missouri - Illinois - Indiana (nine schools)[2] 1:01 p.m. 69 Tri-State Tornado
November 9, 1926 La Plata, Maryland[2] 2:35 p.m. 14 La Plata, Maryland Tornado of November 1926
April 19, 1927 Carrollton, Illinois[2] 11:45 a.m. 1 Southern Plains-Midwest Tornado Outbreak of April 1927
May 9, 1927 Poplar Bluff, Missouri[2] 2:35 p.m. 2 1927 St. Louis Tornado Outbreak
September 29, 1927 St. Louis, Missouri[1] 12:50 p.m. 3
December 7, 1927 Tunnel Springs, Alabama[2] 11:30 a.m. 1
January 24, 1928 Smithville, Tennessee[2] 2:00 p.m. 4
September 13, 1928 Pender, Nebraska[2] 3:40 p.m. 3 Upper Plains-Midwest Tornado Outbreak of September 1928
January 18, 1929 Maunie, Illinois[2] 11:20 a.m. 2 Middle-Mississippi Valley Tornado Outbreak of January 1929
March 22, 1929 Merrellton, Alabama[2] 11:00 a.m. 5
April 24, 1929 Slocum, Texas[2] 12:20 p.m. 1 Plains, Midwest, and Southeast Tornado Outbreak of April 1929
May 2, 1929 Rye Cove, Virginia[2] 12:25 p.m. 13 1929 Rye Cove, Virginia tornado outbreak
November 19, 1930 Bethany, Oklahoma[2] 9:30 a.m. 6 Oklahoma-Kansas Tornado Outbreak of November 1930
January 5, 1931 Norlina, North Carolina[2] 4:45 p.m. 1
February 14, 1936 McRae - Helena, Georgia[2] 4:30 p.m. 2
April 26, 1938 Oshkosh, Nebraska[2] 2:15 p.m. 3 Oshkosh, Nebraska Tornado Outbreak
February 6, 1942 Jasper County, Georgia[2] 1:30 p.m. 4 Southeast Tornado Outbreak of February 1942
March 16, 1942 O'Tuckalofa, Mississippi[2] 3:00 p.m. 1 March 1942 tornado outbreak
April 27, 1942 Ortonville, Minnesota[2] 3:05 p.m. 2 Pryor, Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak
January 26, 1944 Granite, Oklahoma[2] 8:30 p.m. 1 January 1944 Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak
March 6, 1944 Horton, Alabama[2] 3:00 p.m. 1
April 12, 1945 Muskogee, Oklahoma[2] 4:50 p.m. 3 Southern Plains-Midwest Tornado Outbreak of April 1945
December 31, 1947 Village, Arkansas[2] 7:35 p.m. 1 New Years Eve Tornado Outbreak of 1947
February 1, 1955 Commerce Landing, Mississippi[2] 2:20 p.m. 23 Commerce Landing, Mississippi Tornado Outbreak
January 24, 1967 Orrick, Missouri[2] 12:40 p.m. 2 1967 St. Louis tornado outbreak
April 21, 1967 Belvidere, Illinois[2] 3:50 p.m. 13 Belvidere - Oak Lawn tornado outbreak
May 4, 1978 Clearwater, Florida[2] 10:47 a.m. 3 Sarasota, Florida Tornadoes
April 8, 1993 Grand Isle, Louisiana[1] 1:20 p.m. 1
March 1, 2007 Enterprise, Alabama[4] 1:10 p.m. 8 February–March 2007 Tornado Outbreak
May 20, 2013 Moore, Oklahoma[5] 2:45 p.m. 7 2013 Moore tornado

Discussion[edit]

Ruins of the Longfellow School where 17 children were killed during the Great Tri-State Tornado on March 18, 1925. The storm hit the school at about 2:30 p.m.

From 1884-2007, there were 46 tornadoes with school fatalities in the United States. These tornadoes killed 286 (not including the 9 from the probable downburst in New York state). Tornado warnings began being issued in 1950 (and tornado watches in late 1952);[6] and there is a very sharp decrease in number of killer tornado events at schools after this time, as well as a large decrease in death tolls from tornadoes overall.[7] There were 40 tornadoes with deaths at schools (234 deaths) before 1953 and 6 events (52 deaths) after that year (not including the probable downburst in New York). Two high fatality events after 1953 occurred in Mississippi (23 in 1955) and Illinois (13 in 1967); accounting for 82% of 1952-2006 deaths, both from violent class tornadoes.

More tornadoes with deaths in schools have occurred in the Southeastern United States—23 events or over half the national total—than any other region. Four of the top ten death toll events occurred in the Southeast. Relatively few school fatality tornado events have occurred in the area with the highest frequency of strong tornadoes, the Great Plains (Tornado Alley); only a single event occurred after warnings began being issued. This is probably chiefly due to three reasons: the low population density, greater tornado awareness (and better visibility affording more warning), and the time of year and of day that most tornadoes strike the Great Plains.[8][9]

An artist's conception of the April 21, 1967 school tornado disaster.

The state with the most tornado deaths throughout history is Illinois, with 90. The largest school death toll from a tornado was 69 during the Tri-State Tornado, which also struck Illinois and significantly raised that state's death toll. The greatest death toll at a single school also occurred during the Tri-State tornado, when it killed 33 at a school in De Soto, also in Illinois. This tornado also injured hundreds more at schools, and killed many students returning home from schools. Additionally, three of the top ten events by death toll, and four if separate schools of the same tornado are counted (33 in De Soto and 25 in Murphysboro again from the Tri-State Tornado), have occurred in Illinois.

The state with the highest number of tornadoes with deaths at schools is Alabama at 8 events. Illinois is second with 6 tornadoes. Missouri and Oklahoma are tied for third with 5 tornadoes. Fifth is Georgia with 3 tornadoes. Sixth are Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, Nebraska, Mississippi, and Arkansas, each with 2 events. One school fatality tornado event has occurred in Ohio, Louisiana, Iowa, Colorado, Kansas, South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Florida (the probable downburst in New York is not included).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Grazulis, Thomas P. (1997). Significant Tornadoes Update, 1992-1995. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. p. 1409. ISBN 1-879362-04-X. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. pp. 139–40. ISBN 1-879362-03-1. 
  3. ^ http://www.dnr.mo.gov/shpo/nps-nr/64501157.pdf National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Documentation Form page=E-27
  4. ^ Tornado Outbreak of March 1-2, 2007 (NWS)
  5. ^ "Preliminary Reconnaissance of the May 20, 2013, Newcastle-Moore Tornado in Oklahoma". National Institute of Standards and Technology. Dec 2013. 
  6. ^ Galway, Joseph G. (1975). "Relationship of Tornado Deaths to Severe Weather Watch Areas". Mon. Wea. Rev. 103 (8): 737–41. doi:10.1175/1520-0493(1975)103<0737:ROTDTS>2.0.CO;2. 
  7. ^ Doswell, Charles A, III; A. R. Moller; H. E. Brooks (1999). "Storm Spotting and Public Awareness since the First Tornado Forecasts of 1948". Wea. Forecasting 14 (4): 544–57. doi:10.1175/1520-0434(1999)014<0544:SSAPAS>2.0.CO;2. 
  8. ^ Ashley, Walker S. (2007). "Spatial and Temporal Analysis of Tornado Fatalities in the United States: 1880–2005". Wea. Forecasting 22 (6): 1214–28. doi:10.1175/2007WAF2007004.1. 
  9. ^ Kenny, Tim (2000). "Tornado Deaths by Census Region, 1680-1999". Stormtrack 24 (1): 10. 

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