Tornado Index # 19790410.48.43

 
 
 

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

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 #
1979-04-1017:50:00 34421740132046.9$50M-$500M-33.82 / -98.6534.18 / -97.98124
Affected StatesAffected Counties
Texas, Oklahoma Archer, Wichita, Clay, Jefferson

State Segments

Date (y/m/d)TimeFujitaFatalitiesInjuriesWidthLengthDamageCrop LossTouchdown Lat/LonLiftoff Lat/LonSPC #State #
1979-04-1017:50:00 34421740132034.1$50M-$500M-33.82 / -98.6534.03 / -98.12124
Affected StatesAffected Counties
Texas Archer, Wichita, Clay
Date (y/m/d)TimeFujitaFatalitiesInjuriesWidthLengthDamageCrop LossTouchdown Lat/LonLiftoff Lat/LonSPC #State #
1979-04-1018:30:00 3400132012.8$50K-$500K-34.03 / -98.1234.18 / -97.98124
Affected StatesAffected Counties
Oklahoma Jefferson
User Comments   (8)      
General Comment
2008-04-09 12:33:01
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Derek Ellsworth
Posts:1
Rank: F0

I can't believe no one's commented on this one yet. This tornado got me interested in the storms. I lived in Dallas at the time, where it was sunny with a few clouds, but 150 miles to the NW all hell was breaking loose. I was 12 years old and watching the evening news when they broke in with a live report for Wichita Falls then I saw a terrifying scene as the black monster went across the background of the screen and seemed the fill the entire screen! Although it's been rated F4, it looked on the screen like the worst tornado ever! So black and menacing and what it did to the south side of Wichita Falls. I was there in 1983 and there were still areas with nothing but foundation slabs! I still have the newspaper from the next day and from then on began to follow the storms. Great site here by the way!!!

General Comment  Tornado Photo
2008-07-24 04:50:24
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JoshLietz
Posts:41
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This tornado produced an amazing number of injuries - the highest number of injuries for any US tornado since 1950. From the NOAA Photo Archive.



 

Edited on 2008-07-24 04:53:19 by JoshLietz

General Comment  Tornado Photo
2009-01-21 21:26:46
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jbunnelle
Posts:18
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Edited on 2012-04-23 15:25:53 by jbunnelle

General Comment
2012-02-18 02:11:22
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Karl
Posts:2
Rank: F0

My name is Karl Hedstrom, I am a survivor the Terrible Tuesday tornado of Tuesday, April 10, 1979.  I was working as an assitant manager for Eckard Drugs, one of two in the town.  We first noticed the strange weather outside of our back door of our work and watched the tornado as it approached town, it was so low to the ground that many thought it was a low thunder storm.  But I had been through a tornado on a Boy Scout camping trip in the midwest and knew what it was, but could not believe it's size.  It sounded like very loud jet engines.  The had a strange color and brought back my childhood tornado experience.  You could the winds blowing in a big vortex and then it touched ground with a large column and up to four other small twister being spun out and then sucked back into the mother tornado (i have pictures of this).  As it approached we could see all of the lumber from destroyed houses and cars in the vortex, it's ground speed appeared to be very slow compared to how huge it was and how fast it spun.


Our facination with this signt was abruptly stopped by the sound of sirens and the sudden slamming of the back door to our store.  We raced back to the door and it wouldn't open.  After more force from the three of us the door openned and we immediatly went about alerting the customers and employees.  When I got to the front of the store, I witnessd relatives and friends driving like demons to get to their loved ones in the path of destruction.  The power line were vibrating so fast that they became a blur, and then they snapped with a flash of sparks.  My new little Plymouth Horizon was parked under our Eckard sign.  The sign was on a high pedestal that was sharking and vibrating.  I thought about running our to move my car from what looked like certain destruction, but was snapped to reality when two cars racing to the diaster are accidentally hit each other and went straight toward the gas station on the lot new to the store.  Both cars went on each side of the gas pumps, narrowly missing them without stopping and continued to their loved one who were at risk.


With this event, I called out to everyone in the store, for not one person had left and had everyone go into our back storeroom's men and womens bathroom.  This area had the most reinforcement of the store.  As we move them back to saftey the power went out, and several younger women started to cry.  I kept calm, but inside I was scared and new that we did not have very much time.  When the 10 to 12 people were all in the two bathrooms, I got every pillow and blanket that I could find and placed it on top of everyone to shelter them from the anticipated debris from the collapse of the roof, which was making a horrible banging, clanking sound.  With everyone safe I went to the back door to look out the keyhole to see how much time we had, this is when I saw part of a Burger King sign fall about twenty feet from our back door.  The only Burger King was about a half-mile from our store.  With this I ran back to the men's bathroom to ride out the tornado.  Our pharmacist Mike was worried as he had been on the phone with his wife when the line went dead as she told him the tornado was bearing down on them.  After a few minutes the sound stopped and we emerged, running to the front of the store to see what had happened.  To our surprise everything seemed barely damaged, except for the bouncing power lines.  Mike's wife had taken his car to the repair shop that morning so I told him I would take him home.  We saw many emergency vehicle heading toward where we saw the tornado, but we thought that it looked like we had dodged a bullet.  I took him home via a quicker back way short cut.  Without knowing it we were just skirting outside the main damage, as we got closer to his home we saw more and more damage, houses destroyed, power poles across the road.  There was strange cloud to cloud lightning and very bad hail and rain.  Mike's home was very close to the golf course and as I tried to get around the road debris my speed slowed down to a crawl, when all of a sudden he opened his door as the car was moving to jump out.  I was amazed at all of the destruction on the golf course, nothing was taller than a man.  He raced accross an open field to a huge field of light brown color.  It was then that I realized that these were all piles debris from homes, one of them his home.  I couldn't follow him in my car and worked to get to his home as best I could going up and down on the curbs, past emergency vehicles helping bloddy injured people and pets.  It took me about ten to fifteen minutes to get to the road where I could turn into his suburb.  There I found his wife and kids.  I told him that Mike had raced to their home and that I must take them there.  In just a few minutes I made it to what was once their home.  Their rental car was upside down on top of the debris, Mike in his blue pharmacist smock was pulling up the broken wooden boards yelling for his loved ones with tears running down his checks.  I yelled to Mike telling him I had found them and they were safe.  They all ran to each other and embraced in big group hug.  His loved ones had survived by getting into the bathroom.  As I looked around I found their dog, who was slightly injured and we looked to recover anything of value before it was destroyed by the rain or blown away.  The only thing that we found was a box with his tax records, remember that the tax filing date was in five day on April 15th.  The only other thing we found was her wedding dress, we could find any other clothes for them.  Since it was getting dark the time was now about 6:30 p.m. or so.  


I packed them all in my car and we drove over to check on the other pharmicist Jerry at his home.  The excitment of everything caused us all to speak at a break neck pace and when we arrived we found that Jerry and his family had survived, but their home had taken some damage but was still habitible.  His home was full of leaves and many of the windows were broken and a large amount of the roof shingles had disappeared.  I took Mike and his family over the home of Fred Dunlap, a college friend where I rented a room in his two-bedroom home.  Fred had been home at the time, and had gotten up on the roof to take many pictures fo the tornado forming.  Mike had a contact where he could rent a small home that was undamaged and we moved his family over to this new home.  Fred and I helped him bring furniture down from the attic.  As we struggled with a could trying to step only of the attic croosbeams my foot slipped off the beam and I went crashing through the dry wall of ceiling down into the living room where his wife and kids were sitting.  They were startled and looked at me with concern, asking me if I was hurt.  I was not but I said that I was so embarrased that my miss-step had done damage to their home.  This honest sentiment caused a great deal of laughter considering everything that had happened so far this day.  I finished helping them and then took my leave to check on other friends and to see the condition of the home of my store manager Stan who was on vacation.  Now it was dark, and there were no light and this small town of about 120,000 that I could navigate without a map was now scary maze to navigate.  There were no street signs, and all of the landmarks were gone.  Everyone was worried about fires starting with all of the debris and the occassional smell of gas, but nothing happened.  I finally found Stan's neighboorhood and his home was destroyed.  I do not believe he and his wife would have survived, but there were many who did survive almost this much damage.  People had put white bedsheet signs saying that were alive and at this relative or friend's home.  Some had that great Texas sense of humor and had written "Gone with the Wind" and "Yard Sale".  The only mall in the town Sites Center had been heavily damaged and all of the cars in the parking lot were shuffled and tossed everywhere, many were injured here as the mall was basically one big long box with door at either end and in the middle.  One the ends faced directly into the path of the tornado and these doors blew out and debris was sent the length of the mall, with the shoppers trapped in the wind tunnel, with debris racing at them and incredible speeds.


As we drove around we noticed that about a third to a half of the town had been hit.  Every now and them some one would cry out for help and people would come running to help someone looking for a loved one or trying to retrive something salvagible from their home.  We all wondered how many had been killed and home many might be hurt.  Little did we know that this was the costliest tornado damage to date.  Everyone just went around trying to help.  We noticed a location that had light and drove over to check it out.  It was a Red Cross setup that was there helping everyone they could.  Since I have O negative blood I donated a pint which they appreciated since my blood will not clot with any other blood group, which might make the difference of life and death with all the injuries that were being recovered.  We all knew that when the sun came up the next day the true scope of the damage would be known.  I found my mouth was dry and I was dying of thirst.  Giving blood and having some water and orange juice took all of my energy.  There were helicopter flying over with search lights, probably from the nearby Sheppards Air Force Base who have helped out everytime the town get's hit by a tornando.  Unfortunetly with the high water table or the low cost of the land, no one seems to have a basement and there we hardly any storm shelters.  I was glad to get home and feel asleep once my head hit the pillow.  I was lucky that Fred's home had very little damage.


The weird thing was that most of the food in the town had to be destroy

General Comment
2012-02-18 02:26:33
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Karl
Posts:2
Rank: F0


The weird thing was that most of the food in the town had to be destroyed as every can, bottle and container when opened was filled with dirt, small bits of debris and glass.  As the only manager until Stan returned, I started working from before 9:00 a.m. to about 9 or 10 p.m. everyday.  All of the movie theater but one was destroyed by the tornado.  The remaining movie was "Hurricane" with Mia Farrow and no one wanted to see that!  Fred's home was in area near where one of the schools was destroyed and we had to have special passes on our car to get in and out.  Eckerd Drugs trucked in all of the water they could find to give out free, remember that in 1979 people didn't drink bottled water like today, and the normal gallons containers of water ran out and they shipped down truck loads of "Perrier" water.  The elder Texan's thanked me but had quizzical looks on their faces as they opened and drank "French" sparkling water from the green bottles.  A little time afterwards Dr. Fujita came to Wichita Falls and visited Fred and looked at the pictures he had taken from the roof.  He also had pictures he took from a small plane days after the destruction which clearly show the width of the damage.  People were trading damage pictures over the next few days and weeks.


Stan and his wife returned from vacation and stopped at the store.  The other Eckerd Drugs was badly hit, but my store still functioned.  Eckerd Drugs was sort of like a Target Store and you could almost everything there.  Unfortunately Stan had come back to town by the least damaged road.  He asked me how everyone was not realizing the true damage that had hit the town.  He was glad that everyone he asked about was uninjured, and then he asked jokingly if his home had any damage.  No one wanted to answer him and we all looked down at the ground. He asked again thinking we were playing a joke on him.  I spoke up and told him "Stan, I checked on your home and it is gone.  It is totally destroyed, I'm so sorry!"  He had a smile on his face as I gave him the bad news.  He looked at me studying my face, hoping this was big practical joke, but realized the sadness was real.  His face changed to one of shock and horror and the jumped in their vehicle and raced home.  The government offered disaster relief and brought in mobile temporary housing.  Stan would come into work, but his dream home was gone and he was in shock for months.  He wouldn't apply for aid, for low cost rebuilding loans.  I was working near about 100 hours a week for a while.  We all stopped pushing Stan to get federal aid, I never knew if he did.


The day or two after the tornado I finally got a phone call out to my parents in Chicago.  They hadn't heard anything about it.  The national news reporters and anchors arrived and would stand by someone’s destroyed home and ask them on camera how it felt.  The astonished homeowner had the look of someone who would give him his true answer if only he could find his shotgun buried under the debris.  We later learned that many of the 42 people that died, had lost their lives fleeing in their cars, when they would have lived if they had taken refuge in their homes.  Almost every survivor was in their bathroom and usually in their bathtub.  Amazing stories of survival!


The nearby steakhouse that Fred and I ate at many times was badly hit by the tornado.  When the sirens went off everyone ducked under their tables.  Several people thought they heard them stop, then go off again.  Thinking the second siren was an all clear a few people came up from under their table when the tornado blew out the windows and started to take off the roof.  I believe the tables were screwed down to the floor, which saved most of their lives, and young waitress who was recently engaged was grabbed by winds that select some and spare others.  She grasped at the legs, arms and the tables as she flew through the air and was thrown against the remaining portion of a standing wall and almost immediately was struck by a roof cross beam that killed her.  Fred and I were single guys and all of the waitresses were our age and were cute, so we ate there often.  She was such a nice person, over the years I have wondered what would have become of her had not fate selected her for the hereafter.  I still can't watch any "storm chaser" tornado video without having goose bumps.  Every time I hear about a disaster somewhere, I know how the local or national news will focus on them for a few days and then they are old news, but their lives will forever have changed because of this event.  I later found out that ten days later on April 20, 1979 while President Jimmy Carter was fishing a rabbit that was being chased by some hounds started swimming towards the President's in a menacing manner.  It was a few months after the tornado, I believe in August and we were already people who were having bad stress problems of fights, domestic abuse, and even a murder when one man wouldn't take the advice from another man when fishing.  This rabbit story got more news than our tornado, and we were all amused by how fickle life can be.  The story didn't seem funny to me at the time, but it does now.  I guess I have learned that time will heal all wounds.


I apologize for my many misspellings, as this is a flow of consciousness.  I have never written about what happened that day and the time afterwards.  I still have all of Fred's pictures and all of the newspapers for the week or two after the tornado.  A Dallas paper printed out our local paper for us, a very nice gesture.  I also have almost every photo book that was available for sale during the next few months.  Every five to ten years I open up that box and remember those customers who lost their lives and those who were hurt.  I can't seem to toss out the box of memories, but I know that I will have a few tears every time I open it.  I still over tip every nice waitress, in memory of the girl who was always so nice.

General Comment
2012-04-23 13:53:24
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jbunnelle
Posts:18
Rank: F1

Hey Karl, thanks for that awesome narrative.  Truly amazing.  I remember Eckerd but guess they're long gone now.  I was around eight or nine at the time and rememeber clipping the front page photo of the Wichita Falls tornado from our local newspaper.  This tornado, along with Xenia, are the two that standout above all the others from my childhood.  I'm originally from Tuscaloosa and went back there at Christmas for the first time since the tornado hit.  I couldn't believe it.  I grew up there and got turned around twice at intersections, where all landmarks had been swept away.  About the PTSD you mention, that's a very serious and real concern.  One couple I know, whose house was missed by just twenty yards or so, completely packed up and moved to California; they said it was just too traumatic  and depressing to go on there.  Sadly, there were battles underway in December as the city tried to impose its own agenda on the horrible situation, which really pissed me off.  City "planners" (and I use that term loosely) see it as the golden opportuinity to move "unsightly" elements away from the city center so that they can bring in more big chains at the expense of local independent business, some of which have been there for decades.  Very sad to hit people when they are down like that. 


 


 


 


 

General Comment
2015-02-19 07:14:36
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FastFreddie
Posts:7
Rank: F0

I recall this Tornado, though i was only 12. It was particularly nasty and was all over the national news. 

General Comment  Tornado Video
2016-07-22 16:46:17
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tornadostephen
Posts:160
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