1953 Vicksburg, Mississippi, tornadoes

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F5 tornado
Max rating1F5 tornado
1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale

The 1953 Vicksburg tornadoes were a deadly severe weather event that affected northeastern Louisiana, southeastern Arkansas, and western Mississippi on Saturday, December 5, 1953. At least four confirmed tornadoes touched down; one of the tornadoes produced F5 damage on the Fujita scale as it moved through the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, causing 38 deaths in the area. It remains the fifth-deadliest tornado to affect the U.S. state of Mississippi, behind the 1840 Great Natchez Tornado, the 1936 tornado in Tupelo, the 1971 tornado in Cary, and the 1966 tornado in Jackson. It is one of just four F5 tornadoes recorded in Mississippi since 1950.


The first tornado touched down near Bernice, Louisiana, and moved northeast to the Mount Union area, injuring 16 people.[1] The second tornado featured the longest continuous track of the event, traveling 58.3 miles (93.8 km) across northeastern Louisiana and southeastern Arkansas.[1] Both tornadoes caused damage equivalent to F2 intensity. The third tornado became the deadliest event during the outbreak. It touched down over the Mississippi River and moved northeast across the city of Vicksburg, dissipating south of Villanova, Mississippi. The tornado was preceded by heavy rains as it moved through the city.[1] Twelve blocks of the city's business district were affected by the tornado, and fires also burned cotton.[2] The tornado broke the city's gas line, and it remained out of service after repairs.[3] Residents were forced to go without cooked food even as temperatures dropped to 31 °F overnight on December 6.[3] In total, 270 people received injuries.[1] The tornado is officially estimated to have been a F5 tornado on the Fujita scale; however, the rating is questionable, since the tornado demolished frail structures.[4] The final tornado of the day produced F2 damage and caused 11 injuries near the Mississippi River in Coahoma County, Mississippi.[1] In addition, severe thunderstorm winds injured seven people near Clarksdale, Mississippi.[5]

Tornado table[edit]

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
FU F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
0 0 0 3 0 0 1 4

December 5 event[edit]

List of confirmed tornadoes - December 5, 1953
Time (UTC)
Path length
F2 S of Bernice to S of Mount Union Union 2200 9.7 miles (15.6 km)
F2 N of Spencer to NNW of Cosgrove, AR Union, Morehouse, Ashley (AR) 2300 58.3 miles (93.8 km) Heavy damages to homes were reported near Spencer and Rocky Branch. 11 injuries were confirmed.[6] 21 or more homes destroyed in Louisiana and nine west and northwest of Montrose, Arkansas. Possibly F3 in intensity as one source indicates.[4]
F5 Vicksburg to S of Villanova Warren 2345 9 miles (14 km) 38 deaths - The tornado destroyed electrical services to the city, and it also initiated several fires.[6][7] Buildings were "shambles" along four city blocks, and the downtown business district was adversely affected. Many automobiles were submerged by debris.[6] 937 buildings were demolished or received damage, while nearly 1,300 people lost their homes. Damages approached $25 million (1953 USD). F5 rating is disputed due to the frail nature of the structures destroyed.[2][4]
F2 SW of Sherard to SE of Ragan Coahoma 0215 8.2 miles (13.2 km)
Sources: NCDC Storm Event Database, SPC Storm Data, Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: Chronology and Analysis of Events by Thomas P. Grazulis


  1. ^ a b c d e "NCDC Storm Event Database". Archived from the original on 2011-05-05. Retrieved 2008-07-17.
  2. ^ a b The Associated Press (1953). "28 Killed, 230 Hurt as Twister Shakes City of Vicksburg". Beckley Post-Herald. Retrieved 2008-07-17.
  3. ^ a b The Associated Press (1953). "Tornado". Newport Daily News. Retrieved 2008-07-17.
  4. ^ a b c Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: Chronology and Analysis of Events. Environmental Films.
  5. ^ "230 Injured as Tornado Rips Vicksburg, Miss". Charleston Daily Mail. Retrieved 2008-07-17.
  6. ^ a b c "More Than 100". Charleston Daily Mail. Retrieved 2008-07-17.
  7. ^ "Vicksburg Storm". Charleston Daily Mail. Retrieved 2008-07-17.