March 1875 Southeast tornado outbreak

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March 1875 Southeast tornado outbreak
Type Tornado outbreak
Duration March 19–20, 1875
Tornadoes confirmed ≥19
Max rating1 F4 tornado
Duration of tornado outbreak2 Unknown
Damage Unknown

1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale

2Time from first tornado to last tornado

The March 1875 Southeast tornado outbreak was a deadly tornado outbreak that affected portions of the Southern United States from March 19 to 20, 1875. At least nineteen tornadoes were recorded, including seven that were destructive enough to be rated F4 by Thomas P. Grazulis. The worst damage and most of the deaths occurred in Georgia. Most of the damage appears to have been the result of two tornado families that moved along parallel paths 12 to 15 miles (19 to 24 km) apart through parts of Georgia and South Carolina. In all, this outbreak killed at least 96 people and injured at least 367.[1]

Confirmed tornadoes[edit]

≥19* ≥4 ? ? 3 5 7 0
  • Note: Some of the events listed as individual tornadoes were probably tornado families.[1]

March 19 event[edit]

List of tornadoes - Friday, March 19, 1875
County / Parish
Time (UTC)
Path length
F3 Between Lone Grove and Ray's Point Winn 0200 15 miles (24 km) 3 deaths – A tornado splintered several thousand trees and destroyed six homes in sparsely populated areas. All deaths were in one family.[2]

March 20 event[edit]

List of tornadoes - Saturday, March 20, 1875
County / Parish
Time (UTC)
Path length
F4 SW of Hamilton to E of Shiloh Harris, Talbot 1520 25 miles (40 km) 11+ deaths – This was the first member in the northernmost of two major tornado families. Touching down in southwest Harris County, the "massive" tornado devastated rural plantations and forests in its path.[2] It completely leveled several plantations and farms, with five deaths on one of them. Up to 15 deaths may have occurred in Harris County alone, but were unconfirmed.[2] Winds from the parent supercell transferred a hat aloft for 30 mi (48 km) and a book for 40 mi (64 km).
F3 E of Thomastown to S of Forsyth Upson, Lamar, Monroe 1600 30 miles (48 km) This tornado formed 20 mi (32 km) from the dissipation of the previous event, but was in the same tornado family.[2] People first sighted a funnel cloud developing over Thomastown, but it did not touch down until east of town. Once on the ground, the tornado "changed shape continuously."[2]
F4 N of Columbus to N of Talbotton Muscogee, Harris, Talbot 1630 35 miles (56 km) 9 deaths – This was the first tornado in the southernmost of the two tornado families. Described as a "large and intense" tornado, it destroyed the village of "Mt. Airy" in the southeast corner of Harris County, killing six people in one home.[2] Winds propelled a board from the home 18 inches (46 cm) into the stump of a broken pine tree. The tornado destroyed more homes and an academy in or near Baughville in Talbot County, killing three people.[2]
F3 N of Gray Jones, Putnam, 1650 10 miles (16 km) 1 death – This tornado struck only three farms, but demolished all of them.[2]
F4 NW of Sparta to S of Edgefield, SC Hancock, Warren, McDuffie, Columbia, Edgefield (SC) 1740 75 miles (121 km) 28+ deathsSee section on this tornado
F4 S of Gray to E of Milledgeville Jones, Baldwin 1750 unknown 13+ deaths – This tornado produced a "devastating" swath of damage near Milledgeville, with four deaths in Jones County and nine or more in Baldwin County.[3] Residents of Milledgeville mistook the tornado for a column of smoke from a fire. When surveyors of the U.S. Army Signal Corps arrived three weeks later, a child was still unaccounted for and "presumed dead."[3]
F4 ESE of Sparta to S of Gibson Hancock, Washington, Glascock, Jefferson 1830 30 miles (48 km) 8+ deaths – This tornado caused eight deaths in Glascock County, but according to newspapers, the actual toll may have been 30.[3] Some deaths in Hancock County attributed to the Sparta–Edgefield tornado may actually have been from this tornado.
F4 W of Keysville to Williston, SC area Jefferson, Burkek, Richmond, Aiken (SC), Barnwell (SC) 1900 50 miles (80 km) 6+ deaths – This tornado was likely a series of tornadoes and downbursts.[4] It narrowly missed Augusta, passing 10 mi (16 km) southeast of that city before crossing the Savannah River into South Carolina. The tornado critically damaged or razed about 40 homes in Richmond County alone.[4] The tornado left so much debris on farms that they were abandoned. As many as eight people may have died.[4]
F2 SW of Sylvania Bulloch 0100 unknown A tornado hit eight cabins, leveling them.[4]
North Carolina
F? S of Statesville to S of Mocksville Iredell, Davie 1600 15 miles (24 km) This may have been a tornado, a downburst or a combination of the two.[2]
F? W of Raleigh Chatham, Wake 2200 unknown Another tornado or downburst dissipated about 10 mi (16 km) west of Raleigh.[4]
F4 Opelika area to Whitesville, GA area Lee, Chambers, Harris (GA) 1930 20 miles (32 km) 7 deaths – This may have been a multiple-vortex tornado that killed seven people in a single family.[3]
South Carolina
F3 SW of Columbia Lexington 1955 5 miles (8.0 km) 2 deaths – This tornado wrecked five or more farms in its path.[4]
F3 N of Sumter to Tabor City, NC area Sumter, Lee, Florence, Marion, Horry, Columbus (NC) 2030 80 miles (130 km) 6 deaths – This tornado family produced a damage swath that varied from 20 yards (18 m) to almost 1 mi (1.6 km) wide, with several entire plantations wrecked. The tornado downed or split "tens of thousands" of trees and destroyed buildings on more than 40 farms.[4]
F2 S of Norway to S of Orangeburg Orangeburg 2200 25 miles (40 km) 3 deaths – This smoky-looking tornado leveled numerous little cabins.[4]
F? Indiantown area Williamsburg 2330 unknown Details unknown.[4]
F2 Dogwood Neck area Horry 0000 unknown This tornado swept a frame home clean to its foundation.[4]
F? NW of Conway Horry 0000 15 miles (24 km) Tornado was not surveyed.[4]
Sources: Grazulis[1]

Sparta, Georgia/Edgefield, South Carolina[edit]

A large F4 tornado tore a damage path 75 miles (121 km) long ranging from 300 yards (270 m) to over 1 mile (1.6 km) wide across portions of Georgia and South Carolina. The tornado caused its first damage northwest of Sparta, Georgia in Hancock County after which it destroyed dozens of farms. Four people were killed in Hancock county, three of them on one farm. A door hinge from the farmhouse was found embedded 3 inches (7.6 cm) deep in a tree more than 0.25 mi (0.40 km) away. At least six people died in Warren County, including one at a church west of Warrentown. The pastor attributed the survival of the majority in the church to the pews, which stopped some of the falling timbers. The tornado then moved through Camak, where 39 of the town's 40 homes were damaged or destroyed. At least seven people, possibly as many as nine, were killed in McDuffie County, most of them in small cabins. The death toll in Columbia County may have been as high as 20, though only eight deaths were confirmed. At least four people died in Appling, and as many as eight may have died on a plantation. The tornado then crossed the state line into Edgefield County, South Carolina where damage was less severe. Here, six farms and plantations were destroyed with three fatalities. The tornado finally dissipated south of Edgefield. The death toll from this tornado is listed at 28, but due to uncertainties it may have been as high as 42.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Grazulis 1993, pp. 581–3
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Grazulis 1993, p. 581
  3. ^ a b c d Grazulis 1993, p. 582
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Grazulis 1993, p. 583