The devastating tornadoes that swept thru southern Kentucky in the early morning hours of December 11th caused the most extensive storm damage and loss the area has ever seen. As all of us were experiencing the pain and suffering together, we were indeed living in historic moments. For this week’s Throwback Thursday, the history-making nature of the recent storms prompted us to find out more about the history of tornadoes in Kentucky.
A Wikipedia list of tornado outbreaks in North America dates the potential first official tornado citing to the Massachusetts and New Hampshire area, where major gusts of wind caused damage and a death on July 5, 1643.
Perhaps the first major tornado outbreak recorded in Kentucky was in 1890, when storms caused major damage throughout all of Louisville. It made national news headlines, as Harpers Weekly showcased illustrations and photos of devastation. Downtown Louisville was hit hardest with 76 known deaths.
But the worst was yet to come. March 18, 1925 was the date of the infamous Tri-State Tornado. With 12 confirmed tornadoes, spanning the Midwest and southern United States, there were 747 people killed and over 2,300 injured. Tornadoes were confirmed in Ky, Tennessee, Indiana, Alabama, and Kansas, making this day the deadliest tornado day in American history.
While not mentioned in the list of tornado outbreaks we used, the Kentucky Library’s Special Collections department contained a folder of photos with tornado damage in Bowling Green, marked May 3, 1935. Photos of the damage indicate downtown Bowling Green on State Street and the Helm Hotel sustained damage, while tourist cabins on Nashville Road at Lost River Cave were also damaged.
Tornadoes swept thru eastern Warren County again in April 1974, where we found a map and images from the College Heights Herald showing confirmed tornadoes at Alvaton, Claypool, and Three Forks.
The April 16, 1998 hail storm and tornadoes that brought over $500 million in damage to Bowling Green were barely 20 years ago. Five inches of rain fell in just under 90 minutes, causing extreme flooding across all of WKU’s campus and dangerous, sometimes undriveable conditions, for all vehicles that took hail damage. Greenwood Mall’s roof was partially torn off from these tornado winds.
Bowling Green and southern Kentucky’s community has risen to the occasion, sending aid, donations, volunteers, and anything needed to those impacted by the December 11th storms. The outpouring of love and support from around the country and the globe has been phenomenal to watch and experience firsthand.
Was Mayfield KY hit by a massive EF 4 tornado? ›
During the late evening of Friday, December 10, 2021, a violent, long-tracked EF4 tornado moved across Western Kentucky, producing severe to catastrophic damage in numerous towns, including Mayfield, Princeton, Dawson Springs, and Bremen.How big was the tornado in Mayfield Kentucky? ›
The path of the tornado through Mayfield, Kentucky on December 10, 2021. The tornado brought 190-mph winds to Mayfield. According to O'Nan, it damaged or destroyed more than 60 businesses in the town of just 10,000 people.Where did the tornadoes Touch Down In Ky? ›
The NWS confirms an EF-0 tornado touched down in Grant County in northern Kentucky. A fourth tornado has also been confirmed in Henry County. The NWS says the EF-1 tornado with maximum winds of 110 mph touched down in the southeastern part of the county. An EF-1 tornado was also confirmed in Ballard County.What was the most recent tornado in Kentucky? ›
0847 AM TORNADO 1 WNW PLEASUREVILLE 38.36N 85.13W 01/12/2023 HENRY KY NWS STORM SURVEY TORNADO TOUCHED DOWN WNW OF PLEASUREVILLE, KY AND TRACKED EAST FOR 1.27 MILES INTO THE TOWN OF PLEASUREVILLE, KY. ESTIMATED PEAK WIND SPEEDS WERE 110 MPH WITH A PATH WIDTH OF 100 YARDS.What percent of EF4 and EF5 are tornadoes? ›
On the other end of the scale, only about 1% of all tornadoes are classified as EF4 or EF5 tornadoes with winds over 165 mph. However, these strong tornadoes are responsible for about 67% of all tornado deaths.Has Kentucky ever had an EF5 tornado? ›
1974 saw Kentucky's only EF5 tornado
The April 3, 1974, tornado is the only one to receive an EF5 rating. It touched down in Breckinridge County, causing damage and killing multiple people as an EF3 storm.
An EF4 tornado, characterized by wind speeds between 116 and 200 mph, is the second most intense on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. The strength, path, and duration of the December 10th event were also surprising. “It was on the ground for nearly three hours; tracking 160 miles in total.How far did the Mayfield tornado travel? ›
Officially, the longest tornado path ever was a 219-mile path through three states in 1925. Surveys say the Kentucky tornado's path in December was 167 miles long. A catastrophic tornado devastated the town of Mayfield, Kentucky on Dec.How many miles did the Mayfield tornado last? ›
The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management reported the tornado that struck Mayfield and Western Kentucky traveled 223 miles. If confirmed by the National Weather Service, that would break a 96-year-old record for the longest continuous distance traveled by a tornado.Has a tornado ever hit Louisville Ky? ›
This F-4 tornado struck Louisville just before 8:00 PM on March 27th, 1890. It began in extreme western Jefferson County before tracking 15 miles through Louisville and into Clark County, Indiana. When the tornado lifted, 76 people had lost their lives, with at least 200 more injured.
What is the name of the town in Kentucky that was hit by the tornado? ›
The physical toll on Mayfield, Ky., is evident. The psychological anguish will be equally difficult to overcome.How many miles did the Kentucky tornado stay on the ground? ›
"Everywhere along the line of this tornado, that touched down and stayed down for 227 miles — over 200 in Kentucky — has been severely and significantly impacted," Gov. Andy Beshear said.How many f5 tornadoes have there been in Kentucky? ›
Has Kentucky ever had an EF5 tornado? Kentucky has experienced an EF5 tornado just once before, he said, on April 3, 1974. It hit Breckenridge and Meade counties. The last EF5 tornado in the nation was in Oklahoma in 2013, he added.How is Mayfield Kentucky doing after the tornado? ›
A year after an EF4 tornado ripped through, the town of Mayfield is still trying to recover. One mark of progress though is at the center of Mayfield: a brand-new building where people can come and eat. The Barn, formerly known as Carr's Barn, reopened in June.Is Kentucky under a tornado watch? ›
No weather alerts in effect at this time.What state has no tornadoes? ›
What states don't have tornadoes? Alaska, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. rarely see tornadoes — they averaged zero tornadoes annually over the last 25 years, according to our analysis of NOAA data.What state has never had a tornado? ›
Tornadoes have been documented in every U.S. state (not including the non-state territories of Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico) at least once since 1950, although some regions and states are hit by tornadoes far more than others.What is an F12 tornado? ›
The original Fujita Scale actually goes up to F12. An F12 tornado would have winds of about 740 MPH, the speed of sound. Roughly 3/4 of all tornadoes are EF0 or EF1 tornadoes and have winds that are less than 100 MPH.What is the strongest tornado ever recorded in the world? ›
This article lists various tornado records. The most "extreme" tornado in recorded history was the Tri-State tornado, which spread through parts of Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana on March 18, 1925. It is considered an F5 on the Fujita Scale, even though tornadoes were not ranked on any scale at the time.Was there ever a Category 6 tornado? ›
Only two tornadoes, the 1970 Lubbock, Texas and 1974 Xenia, Ohio were ever rated F6. Both tornadoes were subsequently downgraded later to F5 after it was declared F6 damage was “inconceivable”. As of 2023, there are no F6 tornadoes and the rating no longer exists.
What is the largest ef5 tornado ever recorded? ›
The deadliest tornado ever happened on March 18, 1925. It is called the Tri-State Tornado because it occurred in three different states: Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. The F5 tornado, which is also the longest ever, stretched for 219 miles across these three states. It lasted for 3.5 hours and killed 695 people.What EF rating was the Mayfield tornado? ›
The Mayfield, Kentucky, tornado has been given a preliminary damage rating of EF-4 with winds that topped 190 mph, the National Weather Service said Wednesday afternoon.How fast were the winds in the Mayfield tornado? ›
|Date||10 December 2021|
|Est. Peak Winds||95 mph|
|Path Length||2.75 miles|
|Max Width||75 yards|
The greatest distance travelled by a tornado is 219 miles (352 km) from Ellington, Missouri to Princeton, Indiana on 18 March 1925.
The NWS GPS system measured the distance from the mobile home to the field where Suter woke up as 1,307 feet, roughly a quarter-mile. Fifteen years to the date, the distance still hold the Guinness World Book record for the longest distance anyone has even been thrown by a tornado and survived.What was the longest tornado in US history? ›
The deadliest tornado ever happened on March 18, 1925. It is called the Tri-State Tornado because it occurred in three different states: Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. The F5 tornado, which is also the longest ever, stretched for 219 miles across these three states. It lasted for 3.5 hours and killed 695 people.What is the most common cause of death in tornadoes? ›
Flying debris causes most deaths and injuries during a tornado. Although there is no completely safe place during a tornado, some locations are much safer than others.What is the lifespan of a tornado? ›
Tornadoes can last from several seconds to more than an hour. The longest-lived tornado in history is really unknown, because so many of the long-lived tornadoes reported from the early-mid 1900s and before are believed to be tornado series instead. Most tornadoes last less than 10 minutes.What is the most tornadoes in one day in Kentucky? ›
April 3, 1974
Once the final funnel had lifted, 330 people were dead, with over 5,000 injured. Up to that date the Super Outbreak held the record for the most tornadoes to ever occur in a single day. Across southern Indiana and central Kentucky, 21 tornadoes touched down in just 10 hours.
Between 1950-2022, Kentucky experienced 1,315 tornadoes with over a billion dollars in damages. The state is part of the Hoosier Alley — a tornado alley that sees a higher occurrence of tornadoes compared to other parts of the country.
What is the most tornadoes in one day United States? ›
Widespread and destructive tornadoes occurred on each day of the outbreak. April 27 was the most active day, with a record 216 tornadoes touching down that day from midnight to midnight CDT (05:00–05:00 UTC).What area in Kentucky was hardest hit by tornado? ›
GRAVES COUNTY, EF4
Mayfield in Graves County has reported some of the worst damage, including at a candle factory where eight people died when the roof collapsed. The National Weather Service has preliminarily classified the tornado that swept through Graves and other counties as an EF4.
23 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma is generally known as the heart of Tornado Alley, as it lays at the centre of storm activity in the Great Plains. Oklahoma City, the state's largest metropolitan area, is familiar with violent storms that usually begin in the countryside and travel close to developed land.
Mayfield Consumer Products (est. in 1998) is an American family-owned company, based in Mayfield, Kentucky. It manufactures branded candles and home fragrance products.Is there a tornado bigger than F5? ›
The scale ranks tornadoes from F0 to F5, with F0 being the least intense and F5 being the most intense.What is a super tornado? ›
A super tornado is: A severe, usually isolated thunderstorm characterized by a strong rotating updraft and often giving rise to damaging winds, electrical storms, flooding, large hail, and tornadoes.What is bigger than an F5 tornado? ›
The Enhanced Fujita Scale
An F5 tornado was estimated to have wind speeds of 261-318 mph. The EF scale dramatically reduced the wind speeds for the highest tornado rating with EF5 tornadoes considered to have wind speeds greater than 200 mph.
The 50-year-old quality assurance worker was several hours into her night shift at Mayfield Consumer Products with more than 100 other employees when a tornado swept through and flattened the metal building on top of them. About 40 people were rescued; just as many remain unaccounted for and are feared dead.How many people died in Mayfield Candle Factory? ›
Nine people who were inside the factory died due to the collapse.Is Mayfield KY recovering? ›
(WKRN) — Mayfield is a resilient and strong city that continues to rebuild from last year's storm. On Dec. 11, 2021, the city experienced one of the worst natural disaster's in Kentucky history. An EF-4 tornado swept through the city, leaving a long line of destruction from it's path.
Why do tornadoes not hit big cities? ›
(NOAA's Storm Prediction Center)
A tornado is not magically diverted by a building or even a mountain. Tornado strikes in major metropolitan areas are only less common because the vast amount of rural landscape in the U.S. far surpasses the nation's limited urban footprint.
|Rank||Tornado Index ▼||City / Population|
|1.||271.24||Milton, KY / 660|
|2.||271.11||Bedford, KY / 687|
|3.||266.51||Westport, KY / 201|
|4.||264.92||Goshen, KY / 1,072|
Did You Know? In September 2008, the remnants of Hurricane Ike combined with a cold front to produce hurricane force winds over portions Western Kentucky. The wind gusts up to 75 mph were the result of the strong pressure gradient and not a result of any thunderstorm activity.What EF level was the tornado in Kentucky? ›
MAYFIELD, Ky. —
The National Weather Service is now saying a catastrophic F/EF4 tornado touched down in western Kentucky. That's the second most intense designation a tornado can receive. The storm that hit Kentucky over the weekend had two main paths.
Homes were leveled and two people killed near Sumter. The tornado began three miles west of Kirksey and moved to north of Hardin, near Fairdealing, and ended at Kentucky Lake. A couple dozen homes were destroyed, at least five of which at F4 intensity.What EF was the Moore tornado? ›
On the afternoon of May 20, 2013, a large and extremely violent EF5 tornado ravaged through Moore, Oklahoma, and adjacent areas, with peak winds estimated at 210 mph (340 km/h), killing 24 people (plus two indirect fatalities) and injuring 212 others.What strength was the tornado in Kentucky? ›
The tornado that sliced through Western Kentucky over the weekend, killing at least 77 and destroying thousands of homes and buildings, has been designated an EF4 by the National Weather Service.How many F5 tornadoes have there been in Kentucky? ›
Has Kentucky ever had an EF5 tornado? Kentucky has experienced an EF5 tornado just once before, he said, on April 3, 1974. It hit Breckenridge and Meade counties. The last EF5 tornado in the nation was in Oklahoma in 2013, he added.What EF is the strongest tornado? ›
The scale ranks tornadoes from F0 to F5, with F0 being the least intense and F5 being the most intense. F5 tornadoes were estimated to have had maximum winds between 261 mph (420 km/h) and 318 mph (512 km/h).When was the worst tornado in Kentucky? ›
How big was Kentucky's deadliest tornado? The 1890 tornado was recorded as an F4. The NWS says damage totaled $2.5 million (1890 dollars) in Jefferson County.
Where was an F6 tornado? ›
Only two tornadoes, the 1970 Lubbock, Texas and 1974 Xenia, Ohio were ever rated F6.Is Kentucky in tornado alley? ›
On average, Kentucky sees about 21 tornadoes per year. Between 1950-2022, Kentucky experienced 1,315 tornadoes with over a billion dollars in damages. The state is part of the Hoosier Alley — a tornado alley that sees a higher occurrence of tornadoes compared to other parts of the country.What state has had the most EF5 tornadoes? ›
The state with the highest number of F5 and EF5 tornadoes per square mile, however, was Iowa. The state with the most number of tornadoes classified as "violent", or F4 and F5, is Kentucky, and the state with the highest average intensity ranking for tornadoes is Alabama.Which state has the most tornadoes? ›
Texas is by far America's most active state for tornadoes, averaging 151 twisters each year. In a distant second place is Kansas, with an annual average of 91 tornadoes.Has there ever been a tornado in snow? ›
1950-79 major winter tornado outbreaks, tornadoes and deaths with outbreaks, total tornadoes and deaths from all winter tornadoes, and number of heavy snow/ice storms with outbreaks. criterion was not met, but extensive glazing oc- curred over a large area. Eight of the 19 cases have both heavy snow and ice.What town in Kentucky was hit the hardest by the tornado? ›
In Mayfield, a town of 10,000 in western Kentucky, the community as a whole was walloped by the initial shock of seeing entire stretches pulverized by the worst of the storm.