Tornado Index # 19560512.26.15


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Note: This approximate tornado path has been generated from data provided by the SPC.

The Tornado History Project generates approximate paths through separate historical archives provided by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Paths generated from the NCDC data are typically more detailed, but neither archive gives exact path information. There are several reasons that paths may be inaccurate:

  • Tornado touchdown and liftoff coordinates were recorded with only 2 digits of decimal precision (i.e. [33.72, -86.15] vs [33.71689, -86.15463]). As a consequence, the observed points on the map may be slightly off from actual. Note that beginning in 2009, up to 4 digits of decimal precision are given.
  • Coordinates have not historically been calculated via GPS (Global Positioning System). Thus, tornado touchdown and liftoff coordinates should be considered as estimates only.
  • Tornadoes may not have been in contact with the ground for the entire path as depicted on the map. Storm damage in any location depicted under the "path" should not be inferred.
  • Although paths are drawn as straight lines between any two sets of coordinates, the tornado may have "zigzagged" in some way.
  • Although paths are drawn as uniform thin lines on the map, it is likely that the tornado changed size over its lifetime. Damage in any location depicted under (or not under) the "path" should not be inferred.

Even with the above in mind, the data is the best available. If you see a path that is depicted incorrectly, please post a comment in the tornado forum indicating why you belive the path to be incorrect.

Paths generated from NCDC data are typically more detailed due to the way coordinates are listed in each archive:

  • SPC database - A maximum of 2 coordinates (touchdown and liftoff) is given for each tornado, or each state segment of a tornado if it is a multi-state tornado. Thus the vast majority of paths are depicted as simple straight lines.
  • NCDC database - Some tornadoes have mutliple sets of coordinates within any state, generally corresponding to entry and exit points by county. Thus, since more coordinates have been used to draw the path, the depicted path should be more accurate. Having said that, most tornadoes do not have additional path data in the NCDC archive. When they do, paths are drawn from the NCDC data.

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Statistics   Definitions |?|

The following statistics and definitions are derived from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) historical tornado archive. The Tornado History Project can not guarantee the accuracy of the underlying data within the SPC historical tornado archive. However, the data as presented here is guaranteed to match the SPC data, except where noted.

Some definitions will not be given since they are obvious (i.e. "Date", "Time", etc...)
Special Note: This site uses a unique index number to identify each tornado. This index number is not a part of the official historical tornado archive.

E (Error) (tornado search table only) - A yellow box indicates that the tornado record contains a suspected error. A red box indicates that the tornado record contains an error and has been modified from the official source. Hover over the box for the error text.
Map/Forum (tornado search table only) - Clickable icons for further content related to a tornado.
State - The state or states affected by a tornado.
Fujita - The Fujita scale is an attempt to classify damage from a tornado. F0 being the least damaging, F5 the most. For 2007 and beyond, the Enhanced Fujita (EF) is given.
Fat. - The number of fatalities attributed to the tornado.
Inj. - The number of injuries attributed to the tornado.
Width - Width in yards. It is unclear if this indicates a maximum width or mean width.
Length - Length of tornado path in miles. Note the entire track length is not necessarily all on the ground (some tornadoes "hop and skip".)
Damage - Prior to 1996, this is a range by dollar amount. For 1996 and later, actual damage estimates are in millions.
Crop Loss - Added in 2007. Given in millions of dollars.
Lat/Lon - Contains two sets of coordinates:

  • Touchdown Latitude/Longitude - For single state tornadoes, and the overall record for multi-state tornadoes, the approximate touchdown location in decimal degrees. For the state specific records of multi-state tornadoes, entry point into the state in decimal degrees.
  • Liftoff Latitude/Longitude - For single state tornadoes, and the overall record for multi-state tornadoes, the approximate liftoff location in decimal degrees. For the state specific records of multi-state tornadoes, the exit or lift-off point from the state in decimal degrees.

St. #. - The state tornado number assigned to the tornado for that specific state for that specific year. Generally, state tornado numbers were assigned in the order the tornado occurred, but that is not always the case.
SPC # - The tornado number as assigned by the SPC. Tornado numbers are not unique and reset each year. Generally, tornado numbers were assigned in the order the tornado occurred, but that is not always the case.

Tornado Summary

Date (y/m/d)TimeFujitaFatalitiesInjuriesWidthLengthDamageCrop LossTouchdown Lat/LonLiftoff Lat/LonSPC #State #
1956-05-1217:55:00 340224006.8$50K-$500K-42.25 / -83.2242.22 / -83.08196
Affected StatesAffected Counties
Michigan Wayne
User Comments   (2)      
General Comment
2010-02-07 10:20:26
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Rank: F0

The track that you have for this tornado is incorrect. It first touched down in Atlas, MI. in Genessee County. It killed 5 people in the general area before lifting off. It was first spotted in Wayne County by Garden City Police Officer, John Thomas at the corner of Wayne and Ford roads. It was high in the air and headed southeast at 80 mph. It touched down in NorWayne north of Michigan Ave at Henry Ruff; destroying a model home developement before lifting off.  It came over my location at Princeton and Home Place in Dearborn at about 500 ft altitude and appeared as a giant helix as my view was from immediately beneath the storm. That is west of Telegraph and south of Michigan Ave. The debris from the smashed neighborhood was 200 feet in the air and consisted of shingles, studs, boards, and bricks. It trailed the funnel by about 1000 feet and appeared to be coming down until, as luck would have it (for my friends, sister, brother, and I) the tornado regained intensity and began to descend again.

 The debris then began ascending again. Anything and everything in my neighborhood that wasn't firmly secured, was in the air. It almost sucked my baby brother away. I had to run and retrieve him because my older sister was too frightened to go back for him.  The tornado touched down at a billboard field just north of I -94. It was 1200 feet wide. It smashed the last house on the east side of Pelham and north of I-94. As it was so large, it also smashed the new municipal building, two gas stations, a cafe, a large storage barn, and a new subdivision at I-94 and Southfield Rd. It smashed the Allen Park shopping district. A woman and teenage girl at a laundry in Allen Rd a few blocks south of Southfield took cover under the counter as the tornado smashed their place of business. The tornado carried on more or less along Southfield Rd., favoring the southern edge, until it smashed Lincoln Park and Ecorse. It then crossed the Detroit River and went ashore into Essex County, Ontario at about Laurier Dr. It carried on all the way to and through MacGregor, a small farm community at the time. Several people were injured in Wayne and Essex counties. Billing statements from a Flint, MI construction company were found in the debris in Essex County, Ontario. A few hours later, what was possibly the same storm came ashore at Cleveland, Ohio. This is my belief because the storm was obviously an Alberta Clipper and was exceptionally powerful.


Edited on 2010-02-10 16:40:34 by DonMcAlpine

General Comment
2017-07-25 07:22:04
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Rank: F0

While this happened on the same date as the F4 in Genessee county, it is unlikely it was the same tornado, or even from the same supercell that spawned it, though it may have come from a common squall line. The times are only a half-hour apart. Though I was not a witness, and had just been born, the Genessee tornado would have had to travel 70 miles south in a half-hour, and I don't believe that has EVER happened, and supercells are generally only 20 miles wide or so. I lived in Lincoln Park at the time, and understand my father took us out afterward to see the devastation wrought by it's path through our city. There were several tornadoes in Michigan on that particular day.

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