Red River Valley Tornado Outbreak

Red River Valley Tornado Outbreak

Infobox tornado|name=Red River Valley Tornado Outbreak
image location=Wfalls01.jpg

Wichita Falls, Texas after the tornado.
date=April 10-11, 1979
duration= 2 days
tornadoes=59 confirmed
total damages (USD)= unknown
total fatalities=58
areas affected= Southern US Plains & Mississippi Valley

The Red River Valley Tornado Outbreak was a tornado event that occurred on April 10, 1979 near the Red River Valley. It's most noted for the F4 tornado that hit Wichita Falls, Texas and is commonly referred to as "Terrible Tuesday" by many meteorologists. Additional tornadoes were reported across the Southern Plains as well as in the Mississippi River Valley on April 10-April 11, 1979.

Formation of the tornadoes

s formed. They moved northeastward, and as a trio spawned families of tornadoes. These supercells caused the most damaging tornadoes of the outbreak.The first tornado formed near Crowell, Texas at around 3:05 P.M. About 35 minutes later, the tornado ripped through Vernon and killed 11 people. Then the tornado killed three people in Lawton, Oklahoma. The second supercell spawned a tornado that moved convert|64|mi|km|0.

Wichita Falls

The third supercell was the one that formed the tornado that moved through Seymour, Texas and Wichita Falls. The tornado formed a family of three tornadoes. The first formed near Seymour at around 4:53 P.M.. The storm spawned a second tornado and moved through the south and east sides of Wichita Falls at around 6:00 P.M. The storm spawned another tornado near Waurika, Oklahoma at around 8:00 P.M. The storm moved convert|47|mi|km|0.

The storm formed in Archer County, Texas and moved northeast and damaged a few rural homes and high voltage towers. The tornado then moved into Wichita County, Texas and severely damaged Memorial Stadium and McNiel Junior High School. The tornado destroyed an apartment complex across the street. The tornado also took its first lives at the complex. The tornado later destroyed a restaurant, part of Sikes Senter, the major mall in the town, and another apartment complex where the tornado took more lives.

A number of people tried to flee as the tornado moved along US Highways 281 and 287. More people were killed in their cars. The tornado then moved into Clay County and changed its appearance. There were five satellite tornadoes spinning around the parent tornado. It did more damage south of Dean and Byers, TX, but no more fatalities.


At the end of the outbreak, 54 people lost their lives in Texas, three were killed in Oklahoma and one was killed in Indiana. The Wichita Falls tornado alone killed 42 people, a death toll which was unmatched until the 1999 Oklahoma tornado outbreak in 1999. The tornado caused $400 million in damage which, also up until the Oklahoma tornado outbreak, made it the costliest tornado in U.S. history. An convert|8|mi|km|0 swath of the city had almost unheard of devastation. Dr. Ted Fujita, who was working at the University of Chicago, said the tornado caused as much as F4 damage on the east and south sides of the city. What was unique about this tornado was that it caused a wide swath of F4 damage. Ordinary tornadoes only have a small path of their most intense damage.

Tornado table

Confirmed tornadoes

April 10, 1979 tornado event

See also

*List of North American tornadoes and tornado outbreaks


* Fujita, T.T., and Wakimoto, R.M. (1979). "Red River Valley tornado outbreak of April 10, 1979", University of Chicago.

External links and sources

* [ "The April 10, 1979 Severe Weather Outbreak" by Don Burgess]
* [ The Red River Valley Tornado Outbreak of April 10, 1979] (NWS Norman, OK)
* [ Red River Valley Tornado Outbreak at the Tornado History Project] Includes detailed statistics and maps
* [ A survivor's story (Joel Manes)]

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