Girish Mahajan

1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes

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Type  Tornado outbreak
Tornadoes confirmed  ≥ 8-12
Duration of tornado outbreak  ≥3-5? hours
Duration  April 9, 1947
Max rating  F5 tornado
Damage  +$10.5 million
1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes wwwusgennetorgusaokcountyellisgraphicst1jpg

The 1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes were a series of related tornadoes spawned by a single supercell that swept through Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas on April 9, 1947. Most of the damage and all the deaths are still blamed on one large F5 tornado, known as the Glazier-Higgins-Woodward Tornado, that traveled nearly 125 miles from Texas to Oklahoma. This event was often compared to the Tri-State Tornado, because it was originally thought to have left a 219-mile path, but it is now believed to have a been part of a family of 8 or 9 tornadoes.

Contents

Event description

1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes April 9 1947 The Woodward Tornado Stormstalker

The tornadoes began in Texas, the first of which was an F2 that occurred in the White Deer area. That tornado derailed a train, damaged several homes and destroyed outbuildings. One farmhouse was lifted into the air and set back down onto its foundation by the tornado. After the White Deer tornado dissipated, a second tornado touched down near Pampa, remaining over open fields and causing no damage before dissipating.

1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes Weather History The 1947 GlazierHigginsWoodward Tornadoes YouTube

A third tornado developed near Canadian and passed near Miami. This large multiple-vortex F5 storm would become the main killer tornado of the event. The tornado first impacted a railway station near the small community of Codman, where one person was killed and work cars were thrown from the tracks. Several farms in the area sustained glancing blows from the tornado, though trees in the center-most part of the circulation were reportedly debarked. When it struck the tiny town of Glazier, it may have been as much as two miles (3 km) wide. Most structures in the town were swept completely away and scattered. Vehicles in the area were thrown hundreds of yards and mangled, shrubbery was debarked, and ground scouring occurred. Glazier was considered completely destroyed, with 17 dead, a major percentage of the populace. Press reports told of two people who were known to be together in Glazier before the tornado struck were found three miles (5 km) apart afterward. The tornado maintained its intensity as it slammed into Higgins, Texas, on the Texas-Oklahoma border, which was also devastated. The accepted death toll here was 51; again, a major fraction of the residents of the town were killed or injured. Much of downtown Higgins was completely demolished, and entire rows of homes were swept away in town. At one residence, a 4½ ton lathe was reportedly ripped from its anchors and broken in half.

1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes 1947 GlazierHigginsWoodward tornado 13th anniversary

The tornado was at its worst in Oklahoma—this was the deadliest storm in that state's tornado-troubled history. Six more people were killed when the tornado swept away farms south of Shattuck, Gage, and Fargo. The tornado then moved into Woodward, where it devastated the town and killed an estimated 107 people. The damage that occurred in Woodward was catastrophic. There, the tornado was two miles (3 km) wide and destroyed 100 city blocks. Many homes and businesses were leveled, and as the tornado struck the town's power plant, a 20-ton steel boiler tank was lofted and thrown a block and a half. The tornado finally dissipated in Woods County, west of Alva, Oklahoma, while the tornado family pressed on to Kansas.

1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes April 9 1947 The Woodward Tornado Stormstalker

The parent supercell continued through parts of Oklahoma and into Kansas, producing tornadoes intermittently along the way before dissipating near Topeka. Most of these tornadoes were about F2 in intensity and affected rural areas. However, one tornado near Fowler, Kansas reached F4 intensity, sweeping away two homes and injuring 3 people. Cleanup in the region was made more difficult because of cold and snow that followed the tornado. The Glazier-Higgins-Woodward tornado was the 6th deadliest in U.S. history, killing 181 and injuring 970.

Joan Gay Croft disappearance

1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes The 1947 F5 Woodward Oklahoma Tornado YouTube

Four-year-old, Joan Gay Croft and her sister Jerri were among refugees taking shelter in a basement hallway of the Woodward hospital. As officials sent the injured to different hospitals in the area, two men took Joan away, saying they were taking her to Oklahoma City. She was never seen again. Over the years, several women have come forth saying they suspect they might be Joan. None of their claims has been verified.

Damage totals from the Red Cross

  • Lipscomb County, Texas - 36 homes flattened, 1 damaged
  • Hemphill County, Texas - 83 homes leveled, 116 damaged
  • Texas total - $1,505,000
  • Ellis County, Oklahoma - $1,264,000
  • 52 homes destroyed, 133 damaged
  • 223 other buildings destroyed, 107 damaged
  • Woodward County, Oklahoma - $6,608,750
  • 430 homes destroyed, 650 damaged
  • 925 other buildings destroyed, 975 damaged
  • Woods County, Oklahoma - $950,000
  • 25 homes destroyed, 34 damaged
  • 110 other buildings destroyed, 90 damaged
  • Kansas total - $200,000
  • Total damage estimates were $747,850,050-$173,489,564 (2008 dollars).

    References

    1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes Wikipedia


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