kajivar: (Disasterporn // Lightning)
kajivar ([personal profile] kajivar) wrote in [community profile] disasterporn2009-05-11 11:29 pm
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This Day in History: The 1953 Waco Tornado Outbreak

The 1953 Waco tornado outbreak was a tornado outbreak that affected portions of the central United States from May 9 - May 11, 1953. It is best known for the F5 tornado that struck Waco, Texas on May 11, 1953, killing 144 people.

In total, there were 33 tornadoes, including the F5 that hit Waco, 4 F4s, 4 F3s, 8 F2s, 13 F1s, and 3 F0s. Most of the damage occurred on May 11, first in San Angelo, TX, when an F4 tornado destroyed 320 homes and damaged 197. A 15 block area was devastated, and damage totaled $25.407 million in 2008 dollars. Thirteen people were killed, and 159 injured.

The Waco Tornado struck at 4:36 p.m. that same day. The tornado, over two blocks wide, hit the downtown area. Many people on the streets crowded into local businesses for shelter. However, few of the buildings were constructed sturdily enough to withstand the winds, and they collapsed almost immediately. The best-known example was the six-story R.T. Dennis furniture store, which crumbled to the ground and killed 30 people inside. Newer buildings with steel reinforcement, including the 22-story Amicable office building just across the street, weathered the storm.

Five people were killed in two cars crushed in the street, one of which was crushed by a traffic light to only 18 inches in height. The Dr Pepper bottling plant, today the Dr Pepper Museum, was severely damaged.

Bricks from the collapsed structures piled up in the street to a depth of five feet. Some survivors were trapped under rubble for 14 hours, and it took several days to remove the bodies from the rubble.

114 people were killed in the Waco area, with 597 injured and up to $41.2 million in property damage. 196 businesses and factories were destroyed, 217 sustained major damage, and 179 sustained lesser damages. 150 homes were destroyed, 250 sustained major damage, and 450 sustained lesser damages. Over 2000 cars were damaged or destroyed and the First United Methodist Church was severely damaged. Over half the dead -- 61 -- were in a single city block bounded by 4th and 5th streets and Austin and Franklin avenues.

The Waco Tornado remains tied with the 1902 Goliad Tornado as the deadliest in Texas history and the tenth-deadliest in US history. The storm was one of the primary factors spurring development of a nationwide severe weather warning system.


Source: Wikipedia

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