May 20 -- Anniversary of Major Tornadoes

Today, we commemorate many notable tornadoes. The Moore Tornado in Oklahoma was the last EF-5 intensity in the United States. Eleven years is, by far, the longest interval in history as earth's warmer temperatures have made [E]F-5's have become increasingly rare. Above is a photo of meteorologists at the National Weather Service's Norman office. Their warnings saved dozens of lives.

In 1957, the Ruskin Heights F-5 tornado was on the ground for 88 miles, including south Kansas City. The photo from the Ottawa Herald was taken near where it first touched down. 
The next morning, my mother drove us through the devastated neighborhood south of our home (we were close enough we had debris on the front lawn). We went right down the highlighted street and I saw the literally miles of rubble and shocked, shattered people. The photos are from Life magazine. I tell the entire story, here
Even though I was just 5 years-old, I knew I wanted to be a meteorologist after seeing all of this. 

But, on this May 20, I want to talk about perhaps the most unusual tornado occurrence of all time: the three May 20 Codell Tornadoes of 1916, 1917, and 1918. A small town in north central Kansas was struck three times in consecutive years. I wrote an article for Weatherwise magazine about those storms that was published in 1977. You'll find the PDF pages of Codell Revisited below.


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