Thursday, April 9, 2020

Anniversary of the Woodward Tornado

When I wrote Warnings, the saddest chapter was the history of the April 9, 1947, "Woodward Tornado."
I ended the Woodward chapter with these words,

   After more than five hours, the last damage was reported near the tiny town of St. Leo, roughly forty miles west of Wichita. This tornadic supercell, and the tornadoes it spawned, killed 181 and injured more than 1,500. 
   And, for its entire 221 mile path, no one ever knew it was coming. 

The Woodward "Tornado" was, up until perhaps the 2007 Greensburg family of tornadoes, was the most violent to occur that far northwest. I put tornado in quotation marks because we now know it was more than one tornado from the same parent supercell thunderstorm. However, the blue line (above) was a single tornado that was on the ground for about 125 miles.
As it is with all F-5 intensity tornadoes (the upper .5% of tornado intensity) that strike populated areas, the aftermath photos are heartbreaking. And, the people in the path of this monster never had a chance -- there was no warning system -- and it was dark when the tornado arrived in Woodward and points northeast along its path.
The tornado was so powerful, it blew trains off the track
Today, the warning system would provide notice a tornado of this intensity was coming. The question is, Will you be prepared?

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