Early-April 1957 tornado outbreak sequence

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Early-April 1957 tornado outbreak sequence
1957 Dallas multi-vortex 1 edited.JPG
The 1957 Dallas tornado with multiple vortices observed at the time as it approached the city
TypeTornado outbreak
DurationApril 2–5, 1957
Tornadoes confirmed72
Max rating1F4 tornado
Duration of tornado outbreak23 days, 16 hours, 35 minutes
Damage$9.5 million (1957 USD)[1]
Areas affectedCentral and Eastern United States
1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale 2Time from first tornado to last tornado

The Early-April 1957 tornado outbreak sequence[nb 1][nb 2] was a deadly tornado outbreak sequence that struck most of the Southern United States from April 2–5, 1957. The outbreak killed at least 21 people across three states and produced at least 72 tornadoes from Texas to Virginia. The outbreak was most notable due to a tornado that hit a densely populated area of the Dallas–Fort Worth metropolitan area, killing 10 people and injuring 200 or more. The tornado, highly visible for most of its path, was at the time the most observed and best-documented tornado in recorded history; hundreds of people photographed or filmed the F3 tornado as it moved just west of Downtown Dallas. The film of this tornado is still known for its unusually high quality and sharpness, considering the photography techniques and technology of the 1950s. Damage from the Dallas tornado reached as high as $4 million (1957 USD). Besides the famous Dallas tornado, other deadly tornadoes struck portions of Mississippi, Texas, and Oklahoma. Two F4 tornadoes struck southern Oklahoma on April 2, killing five people. Three other significant, F2-rated tornadoes that day killed two people in Texas and one more in Oklahoma. An F3 tornado struck rural Mississippi on April 4, killing one more person. In addition to confirmed tornadoes, a possible tornado hit Ballard County, Kentucky, on April 3, unroofing homes, destroying a drive-in theater, and uprooting trees. A loud roaring noise was heard.[3] Two other brief tornadoes may have hit near Westlake and at Tallulah, Louisiana, late on April 4.

Meteorological synopsis[edit]

On April 2, 1957, a low pressure system was situated over the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles with a warm front stretching into central Arkansas and a cold front stretching into western Texas east of El Paso, Lubbock, and Amarillo.[4] Temperatures on that day reached the 70s in northern Texas with dewpoints in the upper 60s to near 70 degrees Fahrenheit. A strong upper-level jet, abundant instability in the atmosphere, and substantial wind shear provided additional fuel for the development of supercells across the region.[5]

Outbreak death toll
State Total County County
Mississippi 1 Smith 1
Oklahoma 6 Bryan 3
Marshall 2
Murray 1
Texas 12 Dallas 10
Delta 1
Lamar 1
Totals 19
All deaths were tornado-related

Tornado table[edit]

72 3 16 20 25 6 2 0

April 2 event[edit]

F# Location County Time (UTC) Path length Damage
F? NW of Ponder Cooke, Denton 0900 0.1 miles (0.16 km) A tornado touched down near Denton Creek. More than one tornado was reported.[3]
F2 SE of Howe Grayson 2100 0.1 miles (0.16 km) A tornado damaged one home near Howe and blew cars off a road. North of Van Alstyne, two homes, including a farmhouse, were destroyed, and a couple were thrown 50 yards (46 m), critically injuring the woman.[6] Nearby barns were also destroyed, and many trees were blown down.[3] This or a related tornado may have also destroyed a home in the "Woodlawn" community, near Sherman.[3] The tornado is not listed as significant (F2 or greater) by Grazulis.[6]
F2 SW of Spanish Fort Montague 2125 2 miles (3.2 km) A tornado destroyed three houses, a church, and a warehouse. One woman was mildly injured when the roof over her head collapsed.[6]
F0 NE of Grapevine Tarrant 2150 0.3 miles (0.48 km) Brief touchdown produced minimal damage.[3]
F0 S of Pottsboro Grayson 2200 0.1 miles (0.16 km) A brief tornado destroyed two homes, damaged one home, and damaged numerous barns. The tornado was rated F3 by Grazulis, who also lists a path length of 5 mi (8.0 km).[3][6]
F3 Near Melissa to Van Alstyne Collin, Grayson 2220 10.7 miles (17.2 km) This tornado may have first touched down east of McKinney,[3] but officially struck the east side of Melissa and then continued to the west side of Anna. Early in its path, the tornado destroyed 12 barns, scattering debris for 3 mi (4.8 km).[6] 15 homes and a church were damaged in Melissa,[3] and seven homes were destroyed nearby.[6] The tornado later destroyed eight homes near Anna before dissipating.
F3 SE of Redbird Airport to Oak Cliff to Dallas Love Field Dallas 2230 17.2 miles (27.7 km) 10 deathsSee section on this tornado
F2 W of Roxton Lamar 0000 6.5 miles (10.5 km) 1 death – A tornado damaged about a dozen homes, including two in Ambia, where a man was fatally crushed beneath debris in his home. The tornado may have continued much farther than officially listed, to near Hugo in Oklahoma.[3][7]
F2 N of Wheeler Wheeler 0005 0.3 miles (0.48 km) A tornado severely damaged a home and swept away a barn.[8]
F3 N of Briar Wise 0015 0.1 miles (0.16 km) A tornado produced damage in Dido and Newark. Many buildings were destroyed in both communities, including 11 homes, one of which was thrown 70 feet (21 m) against a school building.[8] The Newark School lost its roof and school buses were tossed. The Dido community center was flattened, and National Guard buildings were damaged.[8] The tornado was rated F2 by Grazulis.
F? NE of Stony Denton, Cooke 0030 1.5 miles (2.4 km) A tornado dipped three times, causing damage to two barns and outhouses. It removed part of a roof as well.[3]
F2 NW of Ben Franklin Lamar 0030 0.1 miles (0.16 km) A brief tornado destroyed one home and badly damaged other buildings on a ranch. The tornado also damaged an arena, farm machinery, another home, and a garage.[3]
F2 Ben Franklin area Delta 0151 0.1 miles (0.16 km) 1 death – A tornado destroyed six homes and damaged several others in Ben Franklin.[3][7]
F1 W of Healdton Jefferson 2130 2 miles (3.2 km) A brief tornado destroyed or damaged several homes north of Ringling.[3]
F2 W of Hickory to S of Stratford Murray, Garvin 2250 11.7 miles (18.8 km) A tornado nearly leveled a farm at "Corley", 3 mi (4.8 km) south of Stratford. The tornado damaged or destroyed 18 homes and 10 barns. The tornado was rated F3 by Grazulis, who reported "near-F4" damage to three homes.[7] The tornado may have been a family of two separate, parallel tornadoes.
F2 W of Dougherty Murray 2255 2 miles (3.2 km) 1 death – A large tornado threw a pickup truck 75 yd (69 m), killing the driver, and also threw a car 300 yd (274 m). A 340-to-360-foot (104 to 110 m) television tower was destroyed, and a television transmission center lost its roof.[3][7] The tornado was rated F3 by Grazulis.
F4 N of New Woodville to SE of Cumberland Marshall 2329 5.2 miles (8.4 km) 2 deaths – A fishing camp and 15 homes were destroyed near Little City; two of the larger homes were swept away. A car was thrown 200 ft (61.0 m), resulting in a fatality. One other person died at an oil refinery camp.[7]
F4 Calera to SW of Armstrong Bryan 2358 7.9 miles (12.7 km) 3 deaths – This tornado first touched down on the northeast side of Calera, but may have been observed as a funnel over Denison, Texas. In Calera, the tornado destroyed a drive-in theater (parodying a scene in the 1996 film Twister) and a large "stock barn."[8] After hitting Calera, the tornado struck Durant, destroying nine blocks and damaging 20 others. The tornado damaged or destroyed roughly 135 homes and 25 businesses.[8] A service station collapsed, killing two people, and nearly every building at Southeastern State College (now Southeastern Oklahoma State University) sustained roof damage. One person also died in a home that "exploded."[8]
F2 E of Altus to W of Mountain View Jeackson, Kiowa 0030 43.7 miles (70.3 km) This tornado skipped west of Friendship and near Roosevelt. A house had its roof torn off and barns were destroyed. A truck was destroyed as well, and one person was injured.[8]
F0 W of Asher Pottawatomie 0040 0.1 miles (0.16 km) Brief touchdown reported.[3]
F0 S of Altus to SE of Friendship Jackson 0105 8.8 miles (14.2 km) Tornado hit Altus Air Force Base and moved into rural areas.[3]
F1 SE of Grant to SE of Spencerville Choctaw 0115 16.8 miles (27.0 km) This tornado passed east of Hugo, damaging or destroying several homes and barns.[8] The tornado was rated F2 by Grazulis.
F2 W of Bengal to McCurtain Latimer, Haskell 0300 23.3 miles (37.5 km) This tornado struck the towns of Red Oak and McCurtain. 28 homes and several stores were damaged or destroyed. An old high school was torn apart, and two people were injured.[8]
F2 Haileyville to NW of Patterson Pittsburg 0305 11.7 miles (18.8 km) This tornado struck Haileyville, destroying a barn and tearing the roofs off a drugstore and two other businesses.[8]
F1 NE of Broken Bow McCurtain 0330 11.2 miles (18.0 km) A tornado destroyed 3,000,000 board feet (7,079 m3) of timber.[3]
F0 Poteau area Le Flore 0350 0.1 miles (0.16 km) No damage reported.[3]
F0 The Village area Oklahoma 0430 0.1 miles (0.16 km) Grain standing in a field was flattened.[3]
F1 SW of Courtney Love 0545 0.1 miles (0.16 km) One home was swept away. Numerous tornadoes were reported nearby.[3]
Source: NCDC Storm Events Database, Grazulis 1993

April 3 event[edit]

F# Location County Time (UTC) Path length Damage
F0 N of Davenport Lincoln 0615 0.1 miles (0.16 km) Funnel was observed aloft. Later confirmed to have been a touchdown.[3]
F? Terrell Kaufman 0715 0.1 miles (0.16 km) Brief touchdown reported.[3]
F1 NE of Nesbitt Harrison 1628 0.1 miles (0.16 km) Brief touchdown.[3]
F0 SE of Krugerville Denton 1630 0.1 miles (0.16 km) Tornado hit an open field, causing no damage.[3]
F0 Fort Worth area Tarrant 1645 0.1 miles (0.16 km)
F0 Duncanville area Dallas 1650 0.1 miles (0.16 km)
F2 NE of Cedar Springs Morris 1700 0.1 miles (0.16 km) A tornado destroyed one building and damaged six others.[3] The tornado was not rated as significant by Grazulis.[8]
F2 SW of Woodlawn Harrison 1730 0.1 miles (0.16 km) A tornado wrecked a shed, damaged two outbuildings, and uprooted trees. A home was partly unroofed as well.[3] The tornado was not rated as significant by Grazulis.[8]
F1 Orange area Orange 1845 0.1 miles (0.16 km) A 50-by-40-foot (15 by 12 m) portion of a roof was ripped from a school.[3]
F2 W of Patroon Shelby 1930 2 miles (3.2 km) A small home and two barns were destroyed.[8]
F1 SE of Caruth Dunklin 1800 1 mile (1.6 km) A tornado damaged a cotton gin and buildings.[3]
F0 E of Dogwood Mississippi 1930 0.3 miles (0.48 km) A tornado damaged farm buildings.[3]
F2 E of Paragould Greene 1805 0.1 miles (0.16 km) A garage was destroyed.[3] The tornado was not rated as significant by Grazulis.[8]
F3 E of Cash to N of Finch Greene, Craighead 1805 22.6 miles (36.4 km) A tornado destroyed several buildings and severely damaged a rice dryer.[3] The tornado was not rated as significant by Grazulis.[8]
F1 W of Little River Mississippi 1830 0.1 miles (0.16 km) A tornado damaged two homes.[3]
F2 Cairo to Urbandale to SE of Mounds Alexander, Pulaski 2000 6.8 miles (10.9 km) A tornado unroofed three "substantial" buildings and caused minor to moderate farm damage.[3] The tornado was not rated as significant by Grazulis.[8]
F1 E of Woodburn Warren 2330 0.1 miles (0.16 km) A funnel cloud was observed and later confirmed to be a touchdown.[3]
F0 Jonesboro Jackson 0000 0.5 miles (0.80 km) A brief touchdown near Hodge caused minor damage.[3]
F1 SW of Hollandale Washington 0115 11.9 miles (19.2 km) A tornado damaged or destroyed 20 homes. It also destroyed and scattered a church and a cotton gin.[8] The tornado was rated F2 by Grazulis.
Source: NCDC Storm Events Database, Grazulis 1993

April 4 event[edit]

F# Location County Time (UTC) Path length Damage
F2 NE of Vernon to W of Forreston Winston, Noxubee, Lowndes 0615 40.7 miles (65.5 km) A tornado destroyed rural farms and outbuildings.[8]
F3 Sanatorium to SW of Penantly Simpson, Smith, Jasper 0700 40.2 miles (64.7 km) 1 death – This tornado first struck the Mississippi Tuberculosis Sanatorium (now Boswell Regional Center), injuring 30 of 200 patients in a dormitory. Nearby, the tornado also damaged or destroyed 10 homes. West of Bay Springs, the tornado killed a person and injured 15 others who had sought shelter in a school bus.[8] The tornado also struck the rural "Ted" and "Warren Hill" communities, near the Smith–Jasper county line, before dissipating.[3]
F2 SE of Middle Fork Henderson 0710 0.1 miles (0.16 km) This brief tornado destroyed two homes. It also damaged four other homes and numerous barns.[8]
F3 SE of Ramer to Eastview to NE of Gravel Hill McNairy 0715 7.3 miles (11.7 km) This tornado destroyed nine homes and nine barns. It also damaged 13 other homes.[8] The tornado was rated F2 by Grazulis.
F1 SE of Lonoke Lonoke 2330 0.3 miles (0.48 km) A tornado damaged 20 acres (8.1 ha), destroying a grain bin and knocking down fences and light poles.[3]
Source: NCDC Storm Events Database, Grazulis 1993

April 5 event[edit]

F# Location County Time (UTC) Path length Damage
F0 Barnesville Lamar 0800 1.3 miles (2.1 km) A tornado damaged utility lines and trees in Barnesville. Several barns were reported destroyed, and porches were blown away as well.[3]
F2 SW of Ellaville to S of Gordon Schley, Macon, Peach, Houston, Twiggs, Wilkinson 0900 75 miles (121 km) 2 deaths – A family of three or more tornadoes began with an F2 touchdown near Ellaville, damaging or destroying 85 homes across Schley County. Two children died near the border of Macon County, and 37 homes were damaged or destroyed in the "Lowe" community.[8] In Twiggs County, another F2 touchdown leveled a small home near Jeffersonville. A third, weaker touchdown in Wilkinson County damaged roofs and uprooted trees.[3]
F2 Thomson to SW of Appling Warren, McDuffie, Columbia 1200 23.3 miles (37.5 km) This family of three or more tornadoes may have begun southwest of Warrenton, where homes and barns were destroyed, but is officially plotted as having started near Thomson, where more homes and barns were destroyed at F2 intensity.[3][8] In "Leah", a second F2 tornado touched down, destroying a church and seven homes.[3] A third F2 touchdown destroyed a home in the "Pumpkin Hill" community between Appling and Harlem.[9]
F0 E of Moultrie to NW of Sparks Colquitt, Cook 1330 13.7 miles (22.0 km) A tornado destroyed homes and two barns. Trees were uprooted as well.[3]
F1 N of Waycross Ware 1600 0.1 miles (0.16 km) A tornado destroyed one home and damaged trees and other structures in "Jamestown", near Blackshear.[3]
F0 Hutchinson Island Chatham 1634 0.3 miles (0.48 km) A tornado damaged roofs and small structures. Many trees were uprooted as well.[3]
South Carolina
F2 E of Monetta to N of Lexington Lexington 1245 21.3 miles (34.3 km) One home was destroyed and several others were damaged. A large recreation hall was badly damaged.[3]
F1 Prosperity Newberry 1314 3.3 miles (5.3 km)
F1 NE of Springdale Lancaster 0130 1 mile (1.6 km)
F1 SW of Union City Randolph 1800 0.1 miles (0.16 km)
F2 Muncie Delaware 1805 0.1 miles (0.16 km)
F0 NE of Fairmount Grant 1830 0.1 miles (0.16 km)
F2 NW of Heltonville Lawrence 1830 0.1 miles (0.16 km)
F1 N of Lizton Hendricks 1845 0.1 miles (0.16 km)
F2 NE of Redkey Jay 1915 0.1 miles (0.16 km)
F2 SE of Middletown Henry 2000 0.1 miles (0.16 km)
F1 Big Stone Gap Wise 1840 0.1 miles (0.16 km)
North Carolina
F1 SE of Elizabeth City Pasquotank, Camden 2130 6.1 miles (9.8 km)
F1 NW of Yadkinville Yadkin 2310 4.7 miles (7.6 km)
F1 High Point Guilford 0135 4.7 miles (7.6 km)
Source: NCDC Storm Events Database, Grazulis 1993

Notable tornadoes[edit]

Dallas, Texas[edit]

At around 3:00 PM CST, the first tornadoes touched down north of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area. At around 4:30 PM CST (some sources say 4:15 PM),[6] a tornado touched down in southern Dallas County (south of modern-day Interstate 20) and traveled northward for about 45 minutes through the Dallas neighborhoods of Oak Cliff, Kessler Park, West Dallas (only 2.5 mi (4.0 km) west of Downtown Dallas)[6] and Love Field before lifting over Bachman Lake (west of Dallas Love Field Airport) just after 5:00 PM CST.[6] As it first touched down, the tornado was barely visible, with only a debris cloud showing at the base of the thin funnel cloud.[4] 13 minutes later, the tornado funnel became more visible and was seen clearly to touch the ground.[4]

The tornado reached its maximum intensity, likely in the upper range of the F3 category, as it approached the Trinity River.[4][10] In this area, between Singleton Boulevard and Riverside Drive, homes were completely swept off their foundations, and nearby railroad cars were overturned; while the damage appeared to be F4 in appearance, the homes had been poorly constructed, lacking wall studding and being "set on piers 8–12 ft (2.4–3.7 m) on center."[10] Thus the tornado was officially rated F3, which is consistent with photogrammetric estimates of 175-mile-per-hour (282 km/h) peak winds in the worst damaged area.[6][10][11] Some time after crossing the Trinity River, the tornado weakened, and shortly afterward passed over a parking lot about .75 mi (1.21 km) west of the U.S. Weather Bureau office at Love Field Airport.[5][6] The funnel then entered the rope stage and dissipated just north of Bachman Lake.[4][5]

In all, the Dallas tornado killed 10 and injured at least 200 (some sources say 216)[6] others. Damage was estimated at around $1.5–4 million (1957 USD).[5][6] The tornado completely destroyed about 131 (some sources say 154) homes, badly damaged 111, and mildly damaged 287. Nearly 600 (some sources list 574) structures and more than 500 homes were damaged, including between nine and 28 permanent apartment buildings that were completely destroyed.[6][12] Some businesses and schools were also damaged, but the Parkland Memorial Hospital was narrowly spared, as was Dallas Love Field. Another, though officially unconfirmed, tornado in Collin County, north of the city, may have briefly touched down just east of the dissipating Dallas tornado and caused damage.[7][12]


The Dallas tornado was heavily documented, filmed, and photographed by several eyewitnesses as it passed through residential and commercial areas of Dallas. Visible for much of its 17-mile (27 km) path, the tornado, at the time, was the most observed in recorded history: 125 observers produced thousands of photographs and hours of high-quality, 16-mm film measuring 2,000 ft (610 m) in length.[6][11] The tornado was highly visible due to its slow, 30-mile-per-hour (48 km/h) forward speed, a lack of precipitation, and its coincidence with ideal, late-afternoon lighting.[4][6] Occurring shortly before the end of the workday, the tornado passed just west of Downtown Dallas and was seen by many business and factory workers. Many TV studios had time to film the tornado from rooftops.[4]

A researcher from the Severe Weather Forecast Unit in Kansas City noticed that several old theories were proven false during the Dallas tornado. One of the theories was that all air and debris flowed inward into the funnel and then upward, but on the outside edges of the funnel debris and people were even lifted.[4] WFAA-TV in Dallas produced a 30-minute documentary about the tornado about one week later.[4] The tornado became the subject of several scientific papers analyzing the life cycle of and wind speed speeds in a tornado.[6][13] Among the studies was the first-ever photogrammetric analysis of wind speeds in a tornado.[11] The film of the tornado is still regarded as being of exceptionally high quality and sharpness.[6]

Additionally, another major tornado event struck the densely populated areas of the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex on March 28, 2000, when F3 tornadoes struck Downtown Fort Worth as well as Arlington, killing at least three people and injuring dozens of people while damaging or destroying several structures, including several office towers. Additional tornadoes touched down near the Metroplex area the following morning in Fort Worth and other areas but no additional fatalities were reported.

In December 2015, yet another outbreak struck the Dallas area. The most significant tornado of that outbreak was an EF4, killing 9 people and injuring many. Damage was significant, with many homes and businesses completely destroyed and vehicles being mangled beyond recognition. The most significant damage occurred in Rowlett and Garland. This was the deadliest tornado to strike the Metroplex since the 1957 event.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ An outbreak is generally defined as a group of at least six tornadoes (the number sometimes varies slightly according to local climatology) with no more than a six-hour gap between individual tornadoes. An outbreak sequence, prior to (after) modern records that began in 1950, is defined as, at most, two (one) consecutive days without at least one significant (F2 or stronger) tornado.[2]
  2. ^ All damage totals are in 1957 United States dollars unless otherwise noted.


  1. ^ http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/stormevents/listevents.jsp?eventType=%28C%29+Tornado&beginDate_mm=04&beginDate_dd=02&beginDate_yyyy=1957&endDate_mm=04&endDate_dd=05&endDate_yyyy=1957&hailfilter=0.00&tornfilter=0&windfilter=000&sort=DT&submitbutton=Search&statefips=-999%2CALL
  2. ^ Schneider, Russell S.; Harold E. Brooks; Joseph T. Schaefer. "Tornado Outbreak Day Sequences: Historic Events and Climatology (1875–2003)" (PDF). Norman, Oklahoma: Storm Prediction Center. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  3. ^ 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 "Storm Data and Unusual Weather Phenomena". Climatological Data National Summary. Asheville, North Carolina: United States Department of Commerce. 8 (4): 106–112. April 1957.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mahaney, Chip (May–June 1997). "April 2, 1957: Dallas' Date with Disaster". Storm Track. StormTrack.org. Archived from the original on 30 December 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d "Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Dallas Tornadoes of April 2, 1957". Dallas: National Weather Service. Archived from the original on June 13, 2007. Retrieved 30 December 2013.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Grazulis 1993, p. 1000
  7. ^ a b c d e f Grazulis 1993, p. 1001
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Grazulis 1993, p. 1003
  9. ^ Grazulis 1993, p. 1004
  10. ^ a b c Grazulis 1993, p. 99
  11. ^ a b c Grazulis 1993, p. 98
  12. ^ a b Butsch, Robert (5 April 2012). "The 1957 Dallas tornado". Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  13. ^ Grazulis 2003, p. 31


  • Grazulis, Thomas (1993), Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events, St. Johnsbury, Vermont: Environmental Films, ISBN 1-879362-03-1
  • Grazulis, Thomas (2003), The Tornado: Nature's Ultimate Windstorm, Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, ISBN 978-0-8061-3538-0

External links[edit]