1908 Dixie tornado outbreak

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1908 Dixie tornado outbreak
TypeTornado outbreak
DurationApril 23–25, 1908
≥ ?
Max. rating1(possibly) F5 tornado
Duration of
tornado outbreak2
≥3 days
Casualties≥ 324 fatalities, ≥1,720 injuries
Damage+$? million
Areas affectedGreat Plains, Midwestern and Southern United States
1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale
2Time from first tornado to last tornado

The 1908 Dixie tornado outbreak was a destructive tornado outbreak that affected portions of the Great Plains, the Midwest, and the Southern United States from April 23–25, 1908. The outbreak produced at least 29 tornadoes in 13 states, with a total of at least 324 tornado-related deaths. Of these deaths, 83% were caused by three tornadoes which have been posthumously rated violent F4s on the modern Fujita scale. These three tornadoes, each of them probably a tornado family,[1] left a cumulative path length of at least 265 mi (426 km) and injured at least 1,358 people, yet caused only 84 of their deaths in cities: most of the deaths were in rural areas, often African American, and consequently may have been undercounted. One of the three deadliest tornadoes in the outbreak occurred on the same day, April 24, as that of the other two; reportedly attained a maximum width of at least 2 mi (3.2 km) or larger; and killed a minimum of 143 people along its path, at least 73 (51%) of them in the U.S. state of Mississippi. The 73 deaths made the tornado the third deadliest in Mississippi history, following the 1936 Tupelo F5, with 216 deaths, and the 1840 Natchez tornado (317 deaths).[2]

In addition to the Purvis tornado, the outbreak generated five other violent tornadoes in two days. The first two of these struck in Nebraska and Texas on April 23, collectively killing four people. The remaining three developed in Louisiana and Alabama the next day. A large and intense, pre-dawn tornado began early in the morning southeast of Alexandria, Louisiana, and produced a devastating path of damage into Concordia Parish and thence into Mississippi, killing 91 people. Another tornado developed in the afternoon over Northern Alabama, moving diagonally to the northeast and killing 35 people in rural areas. The final of the three F4s on April 24 hit extreme East Alabama and crossed into West Georgia, killing 11 people and leveling small homes. Besides these tornadoes, one other tornado killed at least 10 people in Georgia. The 1908 Dixie outbreak is tied with the 2011 Super Outbreak for fourth-deadliest continuous tornado outbreak in American history and April 24 is the only single day in United States history to have two separate tornadoes kill 90 people or more.

Confirmed tornadoes[edit]

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
FU F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
? ? ? 22 3 5 1 31+

April 23 event[edit]

List of confirmed tornadoes - April 23, 1908
Time (UTC)
Path length
South Dakota
F2 W of Valley Springs to E of Benclare Minnehaha, Rock(MN) 1830 5 miles (8.0 km) Tornado struck three farms, destroying stables and tearing roofs from homes. A racehorse was killed.[3]
F2 Oak Grove Red River, Bowie, McCurtain(OK) 2215 15 miles (24 km) Tornado struck the town of Oak Grove, destroying 10 homes and a store. A school was destroyed only a half-hour after the students were dismissed. Only the foundation blocks remained at the school. Tornado crossed into Oklahoma before dissipating. 7 people were injured.[3]
F2 Clifton to Cayote Bosque 0000 10 miles (16 km) Two homes in Clifton were lifted and "crashed together in mid-air". Water was thrown 500 ft (150 m) into the air as the tornado crossed the Bosque River, and trees along the river were thrown up to half a mile away. Buildings were damaged near Cayote as well. 10 people were injured.[4]
F4 Deport to W of Fulbright Red River, Lamar 0000 10 miles (16 km) 1 death — The business center and 25 homes in eastern Deport were devastated. Two churches and a cotton oil mill were destroyed as well. House debris was scattered for two miles, and six people were injured. Caused about $125,000 in damage.[4]
F3 S of Rice Navarro 0030 7 miles (11 km) 3+ deaths — Half-mile wide tornado struck the Thompson farm, destroying the manager's house, 14 tenant houses, and all barns on the property. Three people died in one of the tenant houses. Several other farm homes were damaged or destroyed along the path. Six others were injured. May have continued into Wood County and caused four additional fatalities.[4]
F2 S of Daingerfield Morris 0300 10 miles (16 km) 13 homes were destroyed at a sawmill community. A farmhouse was destroyed and three others were damaged further along the path. Five people were injured.[4]
F2 W of Foreman to S of DeQueen Little River, Sevier 2230 11 miles (18 km) 3 deaths — A family of three was killed in a house that was blown away near the beginning of the path. Leaves and twigs rained from the sky in DeQueen.[4]
F2 Hector Pope unknown unknown 3 deaths — Tornado damaged or destroyed all of the small town of Hector, killing three people and injuring 20.[4]
F2 W of Inwood Lyon 2230 10 miles (16 km) Over 100 head of livestock were killed along the path, including 81 hogs and several sheep. Barns were damaged and a school was blown apart only a half hour after students were dismissed.[4]
F5 SW of Pender to S of Thurston Cuming, Thurston 0000 15 miles (24 km) 3 deaths — Multiple farms were devastated, including one where all buildings were destroyed, and a well-built two-story house was swept completely away. Three fatalities occurred at that location. Shingles and a picture from one of the farms rained from the sky in the town of Goodwin, 35 miles (56 km) away. 10 people were injured.[4]
Sources: Grazulis (1991)[3][4]

April 24 event[edit]

List of confirmed tornadoes - April 24, 1908
Time (UTC)
Path length
F2 Walls DeSoto 0830 7 miles (11 km) Struck the south side of Walls. Three homes, a store, and the depot were torn apart. A station agent was injured.[4]
F2 Braxton area Simpson 1515 unknown Homes were destroyed at the north edge of town. 10 people were injured.[4]
F2 N of Wahalak to S of Shuqualak Kemper, Noxubee 1745 10 miles (16 km) 3 deaths — Three small homes were swept away near Wahalak.[4]
F2 N of Brooklyn to S of Janet Forrest, Perry, Greene 2045 25 miles (40 km) 5+ deaths — Fatalities occurred at a turpentine mill. Death toll may have been as high as seven.[4]
F2 Mason Fayette, Tipton 0900 3 miles (4.8 km) Two homes and three churches were destroyed in Mason.[5]
F2 SE of Memphis Shelby 0900 5 miles (8.0 km) A dozen homes were unroofed or torn apart in the Buntyn neighborhood of downtown Memphis.[5]
F3 Stamper to E of Cleveland Bradley 0300 10 miles (16 km) 1 deaths — Worst damage occurred near Climer. Five homes were destroyed, and buildings were damaged or destroyed on 20 farms. Eight people were injured.[5]
F4 N of Lecompte to SE of Port Gibson, MS Rapides, Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, Adams(MS), Jefferson(MS), Claiborne(MS) 1100 105 miles (169 km) 91 deathsSee section on this tornado — Caused extreme damage to large plantations and "dismantled" large estates.[4]
F4 N of Livingston to Richton, MS Livingston, St. Helena, Tangipahoa, Washington, Marion(MS), Lamar(MS), Forrest(MS), Perry(MS), Wayne(MS) 1745 155 miles (249 km) 143 deathsSee section on this tornado — Reportedly more than 2 miles (3.2 km) wide for much of path[6] through Louisiana and Mississippi,[7] producing F4 damage in both states.[4] Eighth-deadliest tornado ever recorded in the United States.[2]
F4 SW of Dora to N of Sylvania Walker, Jefferson, Blount, Marshall, DeKalb 2040 > 105 miles (169 km) 35 deathsSee section on this tornado — Caused relatively few injuries in a sparsely-populated region.[4]
F4 Bluffton to E of Cave Spring, GA Cherokee, Polk(GA), Floyd(GA) 0110 16 miles (26 km) 11 deaths — Touched down in Bluffton, damaging every building in town and killing one person there.[5] Tornado crossed into Georgia and killed three people near "Hematie", northeast of Etna. Seven other people were killed near Cave Spring as several small homes were destroyed.[5] Debris from the homes was carried for miles, and four bodies were carried over a quarter of a mile. 50 people were injured.[5]
F2 Fort Deposit Lowndes 0300 5 miles (8.0 km) 2 deaths — 50 buildings were damaged or destroyed in Fort Deposit and 22 others were injured. One of the fatalities occurred as a man was caught in the open after running from a dance hall.
F2 NE of Montgomery Montgomery, Elmore 0310 4 miles (6.4 km) A barn and a small building were destroyed.[5]
F2 Thomasboro to Rantoul Champaign 2330 6 miles (9.7 km) Homes were unroofed.
Sources: Grazulis (1991)[4][5]

April 25 event[edit]

List of confirmed tornadoes - April 25, 1908
Time (UTC)
Path length
F2 Downtown Atlanta Fulton 0500 unknown A tornado hit Central Avenue in Downtown Atlanta, shifting one home off its foundation and destroying half of another. It is one of only two known tornadoes to have struck Downtown Atlanta,[8] the other having occurred on March 14, 2008.
F3 Pine Mountain to S of Greenville Harris, Meriwether 0600 15 miles (24 km) 10 deaths — 90% of the deaths were in Pine Mountain, then called "Chipley", where the tornado destroyed 40 homes, four churches, and a hotel. A woman died on a farm southwest of town. Most other deaths occurred in small homes.[5]
F2 N of Columbus Muscogee 0630 2 miles (3.2 km) 2 deaths — Two people were killed in a dance pavilion that was serving as a temporary home. Numerous injuries were reported in another section of town where homes were destroyed.[5]
F2 W of Griffin to S of McDonough Spalding, Henry 0730 15 miles (24 km) 8 deaths — A tornado struck several frail homes at a mill, killing seven workers. It caused another death at nearby Locust Grove.[5]
F2 Poulan area Worth 1100 unknown Several homes and barns were destroyed near Poulan.[5]
F2 Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park Walker 1830 3 miles (4.8 km) Severe damage in the park (then called Chickamauga National Historic Park), as at least 100 large trees were downed, some of which were thrown 300 yards into the air. Three historic homes were torn apart, and the roar was reportedly heard for miles.
F2 Diamond area Gilmer 2000 3 miles (4.8 km) Homes were unroofed and torn apart. Five people were injured.
Sources: Grazulis (1991)[4][5]

Notable tornadoes[edit]

Concordia Parish, Louisiana/near Natchez, Mississippi[edit]

The first of two major, long-tracked, violent tornadoes first began at about 5:00 a.m. CST just north of Lamourie. Upon touching down, the tornado immediately killed three people at Richland[6] and then four more at Ruby soon after touching down.[7] As it crossed into Avoyelles Parish, it caused 25 injuries between the communities of Effie and Center Point. Farther along the path, two more people were killed near New Era.[4] Upon crossing into Concordia Parish, the tornado rapidly widened to 700 yd (640 m) or more and intensified,[7] destroying numerous large plantations.[4] At least 30 people died in Concordia Parish[9] as many tenant homes were completely leveled.[4] The massive tornado then crossed into Mississippi just north of Vidalia, Louisiana, and Natchez, Mississippi, devastating many more plantations, killing at least 30 more people, and injuring about 200, especially near "Pine Ridge".[4] Large antebellum mansions were destroyed, and witnesses reported that areas along the Mississippi River resembled a "deserted battlefield". The tornado then struck the Church Hill area, killing 21 people in frail tenant homes before dissipating near Tillman.[4] At least 400 people were injured along the path, though the actual total, as in other tornadoes this day, was likely higher as most newspapers in the South failed to list Black dead and injured, many of whom were poor sharecroppers.[10]

Amite, Louisiana/Purvis, Mississippi[edit]

The second of the two long-tracked F4s was one of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history. An exceptionally large and intense tornado, it first began at about 11:45 a.m. CST in Weiss, just north of Livingston.[7] Two people were killed at Denham Springs near the beginning of the path. Two others were killed near Montpelier as well.[4] The tornado then struck Amite directly, carving a path of destruction 2 miles (3.2 km)[7] wide through the town.[4] Many structures were completely destroyed in Amite, and 29 people were killed.[9] Four others were killed near Wilmer, along with nine additional fatalities occurring near Pine.[4] The tornado crossed into Mississippi, killing two before tearing through Purvis and devastating most of the town. Only seven of the 150 buildings were left standing, and 55 people were killed there.[4] Five other fatalities were documented in rural areas outside of Purvis as well. Four railroad crew workers were killed further along the path near McCallum, located 8 mi (13 km) to the south of Hattiesburg, as they tried seek shelter in a boxcar.[4] The boxcars were thrown 150 ft (46 m) and torn apart by the tornado. Several other fatalities occurred near Richton before the tornado dissipated.[4] At least 770 people were injured along the entire path, though the real total was likely higher, perhaps significantly so, as many minor injuries were probably ignored—an omission still common in contemporary tornado disasters.[11] With at least 143 deaths, the Amite–Purvis tornado is officially the eighth deadliest in U.S. history, though its long path may have actually consisted of two or more tornadoes.[4]

Bergens/Albertville, Alabama[edit]

A destructive tornado first began at about 2:40 p.m. CST in southeast Walker County, Alabama,[4] though its actual genesis may have occurred earlier.[12] It first touched down somewhere southwest of Dora and moved northeast,[13] whence it was seen to merge with a "black cloud," possibly another tornado which was then moving east and dissipating.[12] Quickly intensifying and widening to about 1,000 yd (910 m), the tornado grew to F4 intensity[4] and struck the nearby village of Bergens.[12] According to reports, the damage swath on the west side of the tornado briefly shrunk as it neared Bergens, causing nearby residents of Dora to believe that a row of hills had deflected the winds from their town. In Bergens, the tornado completely destroyed most of the homes and "leveled" the village church and the store. Of the 42 homes in Bergens, only one remained undamaged, and almost 65% of them were destroyed.[12] A nearby depot in Bergens was also destroyed[14] and three of 10 boxcars sitting empty on the railroad were overturned; heavy boxcar parts were reportedly carried 100 ft (30 m) away.[12] Six people in Bergens died instantly and two more later expired of their injuries; of the 16 remaining injured, at least four more died to make the final death toll 12 at Bergens.[15]

Farther along the path, the tornado destroyed numerous homes in the village of Old Democrat, located 4 mi (6.4 km) northeast of Dora, killing two more people there.[14] Next, the "coal-black" funnel struck Warrior and the town of Wynnville, killing two people each at both locations.[12] Turning to the north-northeast, the tornado then crossed into Marshall County and struck Albertville, destroying half the town. An oil tank weighing 9 t (20,000 lb) was carried 12 mi (2,600 ft) at this location, and a train was overturned and destroyed.[14] At least 15 people died in Albertville and 150 were injured, fully 80% of the injuries recorded for the entire tornado.[4] The tornado continued through heavily forested areas along the remainder of its path, possibly dissipating and reforming into a new tornado[4] which passed through Ten Broeck and the north edge of Sylvania. After striking the north side of Sylvania, the tornado finally dissipated, having traveled at least 105 mi (169 km) and possibly as long as 125 miles (201 km)[13] within one hour and 35 minutes. Although the tornado killed 35 people, it only injured 188, likely due to the low population of the area impacted.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Grazulis, Significant, p. 56
  2. ^ a b Roger Edwards. The 25 Deadliest U.S. Tornadoes. Storm Prediction Center.
  3. ^ a b c Grazulis, Significant, p. 712
  4. ^ 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 Grazulis, Significant, p. 713
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Grazulis, Significant, p. 714
  6. ^ a b Heidorn, K. C. "Deadly Tornadoes of April 1908". Archived from the original on May 19, 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d e Cline, I. W. (1908). "Tornadoes in Louisiana, April 24, 1908". Monthly Weather Review. New Orleans, Louisiana: United States Weather Bureau. 36 (5): 131–132. Bibcode:1908MWRv...36..131C. doi:10.1175/1520-0493(1908)36<131b:TILA>2.0.CO;2.
  8. ^ Grazulis, SIgnificant, p. 209
  9. ^ a b Grazulis, The Tornado, p. 293
  10. ^ Grazulis, Significant, p. 184
  11. ^ Grazulis, The Tornado, p. 200
  12. ^ a b c d e f Lehman, W. F. (May 1908). "Tornado at Dora and Bergens, Ala., April 24, 1908". Monthly Weather Review. Birmingham, Alabama: United States Weather Bureau. 36 (5): 134. Bibcode:1908MWRv...36..134L. doi:10.1175/1520-0493(1908)36<134:TADABA>2.0.CO;2.
  13. ^ a b Chaffee, F. P. (May 1908). "Tornadoes in Alabama, April 24 and 30, 1908". Monthly Weather Review. Montgomery, Alabama: United States Weather Bureau. 36 (5): 133–134. Bibcode:1908MWRv...36..133C. doi:10.1175/1520-0493(1908)36<133:tiaaa>2.0.co;2.
  14. ^ a b c "Walker-Jefferson-Blount-Marshall- DeKalb F-4 Tornado April 24, 1908". Birmingham, Alabama: National Weather Service. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  15. ^ Grazulis, The Tornado, p. 295