1955 Great Plains tornado outbreak

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
1955 Great Plains tornado outbreak
Damage from the Udall Tornado
TypeTornado outbreak
DurationMay 25–26, 1955
Tornadoes confirmed46
Max rating1F5 tornado
Duration of tornado outbreak2~1¼ day
Fatalities102 fatalities, hundreds injured
Areas affectedCentral United States
1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale 2Time from first tornado to last tornado

The 1955 Great Plains tornado outbreak was a deadly tornado outbreak that struck the southern and central U.S Great Plains States on May 25–26, 1955. It produced at least 46 tornadoes across seven states including two F5 tornadoes in Blackwell, Oklahoma, and Udall, Kansas that caused most of the casualties. The outbreak killed 102 from three tornadoes while injuring hundreds more. Unusual electromagnetic activity was observed, including St. Elmo's fire.[1]

Tornado table[edit]

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
FU F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
0 11 17 13 3 1 2 46

May 25 event[edit]

List of confirmed tornadoes — May 25, 1955
Time (UTC)
Path length
F4 SW of Aberdeen to S of Dempsey, OK Collingsworth, Wheeler, Roger Mills (OK) 2117 45.1 miles (72.6 km) 2 deaths - 13 farm homes were destroyed, some of which were swept away. 100 cattle were killed and a car was carried 700 feet (0.13 mi). Damage $500,000 with F4 damage in both Texas and Oklahoma (Grazulis 1991).
F0 SE of Sterling City Sterling 0000 0.1 miles (160 m)
F1 E of Rotan Fisher 0430 0.3 miles (480 m)
F2 SW of Benjamin Knox 0530 11.9 miles (19.2 km) Tornado destroyed a barn and also caused damage to two homes (Grazulis 1991).
F2 Wichita Falls area Wichita 0738 1.3 miles (2.1 km)
F1 E of Shattuck Ellis 0000 4.9 miles (7.9 km)
F1 NE of Rush Springs Grady 0000 0.1 miles (160 m)
F0 NE of Mayfield Beckham 0005 3.8 miles (6.1 km)
F1 NE of Kingfisher Kinfisher 0100 0.1 miles (160 m)
F2 NE of Camargo Dewey 0230 5.1 miles (8.2 km) Tornado hit homes, destroying five, as well as an occupied trailer. It destroyed the trailer and severely injured its occupant (Grazulis 1991).
F3 S of Deer Creek Grant 0300 13.3 miles (21.4 km) A house and several rural buildings were destroyed. One person was injured. Tornado may have been only F2 in intensity (Grazulis 1991).
F2 NE of Tonkawa Kay 0300 2.7 miles (4.3 km) Tornado destroyed four or more homes plus numerous barns and granaries. May have been as strong as F3 in intensity (Grazulis 1991).
F5 NE of Tonkawa to South Haven, KS Kay, Sumner (KS) 0326 28.4 miles (45.7 km) 20 deaths - See section on this tornado
F5 E of Peckham to NE of Atlanta, KS Kay, Sumner (KS), Cowley (KS) 0400 56.4 miles (90.8 km) 80 deaths - See section on this tornado
F1 W of Martha Jackson 0500 6.2 miles (10.0 km)
F1 NW of Antonino Ellis 0140 0.1 miles (160 m)
Source: Tornado History Project - May 25, 1955 Storm Data, Grazulis 1991

May 26 event[edit]

List of confirmed tornadoes — May 26, 1955
Time (UTC)
Path length
F0 Velma area Stephens 0830 0.1 miles (160 m)
F1 N of Chickasha Grady 0830 0.1 miles (160 m)
F1 South Oklahoma City area Oklahoma 0900 0.5 miles (800 m)
F1 E of Moore Cleveland 0900 11.6 miles (18.7 km)
F0 SW of Shawnee Pottawatomie 0930 0.1 miles (160 m)
F0 Cushing area Payne 1000 0.1 miles (160 m)
F0 Durant area Bryan 1120 4.5 miles (7.2 km)
F1 Sallisaw to NE of Stony Point Sequoyah 1245 14.2 miles (22.9 km)
F1 Joplin area Jasper 1300 2.7 miles (4.3 km)
F1 SW of Clarksburg Moniteau 1545 0.2 miles (320 m)
F0 N of Norborne Carroll 0000 0.2 miles (320 m) Tornado unroofed and shifted a farmhouse 20 feet (6.7 yd) off its foundation. Touchdown was very brief, may have caused F2 damage due to its removing of the roof (Grazulis 1991).
F1 SW of Koshkonong Howell 0100 2 miles (3.2 km)
F1 SW of Linneus (1st tornado) Linn 0100 0.2 miles (320 m)
F0 SW of Linneus (2nd tornado) Linn 0100 0.2 miles (320 m)
F2 N of Worthington Schuyler 0200 11.7 miles (18.8 km) Tornado snapped hundreds of trees and destroyed many homes on five separate farms. A couple were injured as their home was nearly leveled, indicating possible F3 damage (Grazulis 1991).
F0 Corsicana area Navarro 1430 0.1 miles (160 m)
F2 E of Coatsburg Adams 1750 1.5 miles (2.4 km)
F2 SE of Pekin Tazewell 2049 1.5 miles (2.4 km)
F1 Burbank area Cook 2200 1.5 miles (2.4 km)
F1 W of Filckerville to W of Beecher Kankakee, Will 2230 18.7 miles (30.1 km)
F2 E of Osage City to Leavenworth Osage, Douglas, Leavenworth 0627 66.2 miles (106.5 km) Tornado leveled barns and produced $200,000 in rural farm damage. It followed a skipping path and thus may have been a tornado family (Grazulis 1991).
F0 N of McPherson McPherson 1900 0.1 miles (160 m)
F2 W of St. Joseph, MO Doniphan 2330 0.1 miles (160 m) 8 buildings on a farm were destroyed. 2 other farms were also damaged.
F0 S of Redfield Bourbon 0030 0.1 miles (160 m)
F0 NW of Baxter Springs Cherokee 0100 0.1 miles (160 m)
F3 Jessieville area to NW of Pinnacle Garland, Saline 2245 28.8 miles (46.3 km) Tornado caused damage to 23 homes, primarily in the community of Blakely. Total losses $200,000. Tornado may have only reached F2 intensity (Grazulis 1991).
F2 SE of Pleasant Valley Perry 2320 4.5 miles (7.2 km) Tornado hit 11 barns, destroying five of them (Grazulis 1991).
F2 SW of Weldon Woodruff, Jackson 0220 7.5 miles (12.1 km) Tornado destroyed six homes and damaged 25 in its path (Grazulis 1991).
F1 SE of Hubbard Dakota 2300 4.3 miles (6.9 km)
F2 NE of Wayne Wayne 2330 6.5 miles (10.5 km) The tornado hit five farm sites, destroying buildings on each of them (Grazulis 1991).
Source: Tornado History Project - May 26, 1955 Storm Data, Grazulis 1991

Blackwell-Udall tornadoes[edit]

Men and dog inspect rubble left by Udall tornado

The Blackwell tornado formed in Noble County at around 9:00 PM CDT before crossing through the eastern portions of the Kay County town of Blackwell as an F5 wedge tornado. Then about 400 yd (0.23 mi) wide (Grazulis 1991), It claimed the lives of 20 people in Blackwell and injured over 200 before crossing into and dissipating over Cowley County, Kansas. Along with destroying nearly 200 homes,[2] the tornado also demolished the town's main employers including the Acme Foundry and the Hazel Atlas Glass plant. 400 homes were destroyed or swept away, and 500 other homes were damaged.[2] 60 businesses were also destroyed and the local hospital also sustained major damage. Most of the western half of the town was spared the worst of the damage.[2]

30 minutes later, the same supercell that spawned the Blackwell tornado produced another violent and long-tracked tornado just east of the first tornado track near the Kansas/Oklahoma border. It proceeded northward across Sumner and Cowley Counties. The town of Udall was especially hard hit with F5 damage that included the disintegration of numerous structures and homes all across the town. Even the town's water tower was toppled. The funnel, about 1,300 yd (0.74 mi) wide, hit Udall at around 10:30 PM CDT. Half of the town's population was killed or injured. Numerous homes and businesses were destroyed, many of which were swept away. Vehicles were thrown hundreds of yards and mangled beyond recognition, including a pickup truck that was wrapped around a tree and stripped of everything but its frame and tires.[2] The Udall public school building sustained major damage, with beams snapped and blown away.[3][4][5] The tornado later dissipated after traveling over 50 mi (80 km) from the Oklahoma border to southeast of Wichita. This tornado was the deadliest in the state's history with 80 fatalities and over 200 injured.

In addition NWS officials confirmed an additional F2 tornado near Tonkawa which may have been either part of the Blackwell tornado or a satellite tornado. Other tornadoes in the region occurred on May 27 near the same region but did little damage. Among them were those produced by a thunderstorm which traveled through the Oklahoma City area, where it produced weak tornadoes with minimal damage in the towns of Norman and Chickasha.

Other tornadoes[edit]

Outbreak death toll
State Total County County
Kansas 80 Cowley 75
Sumner 5
Oklahoma 22 Kay 20
Roger Mills 2
Totals 102
All deaths were tornado-related

Another deadly tornado occurred south of Woodward and at Cheyenne in Roger Mills County in southwestern Oklahoma, killing two people. This storm originated from the Texas Panhandle. The final tornado in the hardest-hit region occurred during the early morning hours of May 26 when a weak tornado occurred in Salisaw in Sequoyah near the Arkansas border.

Numerous tornadoes occurred across the Midwestern states from Arkansas to Illinois. The strongest tornado was located near the Little Rock area but no fatalities were reported with this tornado or any other on May 26.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Storm Electricity Aspects of the Blackwell/Udall Storm of 25 May 1955 - Don Burgess, University of Oklahoma (CIMMS)
  2. ^ a b c d Grazulis, Thomas P (July 1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. ISBN 1-879362-03-1.
  3. ^ "The Indefinitive List of the Strongest Tornadoes Ever Recorded (Pre-1970): Part II |". Archived from the original on 2013-06-30. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
  4. ^ http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ict/udall/udall.php
  5. ^ http://www.kansas.com/2010/02/10/1174869/1955-udall-tornado.html


  • Thomas P. Grazulis (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680–1991, A Chronology and Analysis of Events. The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. ISBN 1-879362-00-7 (hardcover).

External links[edit]