The Flint-Worcester Tornadoes were the most infamous storms produced by a larger outbreak of severe weather that began in Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin, before moving across the Great Lakes states, and then into New York and New England. Other F3 and F4 tornadoes struck other locations in Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire and Ohio.
|List of confirmed tornadoes - June 7, 1953|
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|F1||E of Morland||Graham||1900||0.1 miles |
|F2||S of Hill City||Graham||1900||0.1 miles |
|F0||S of Edmond||Graham||1900||10.9 miles |
|F0||NE of Tampa to SW of Herington||Marion, Dickinson||0445||12.6 miles |
|F1||W of Julesburg||Sedgwick||2000||0.1 miles |
|F1||N of Julesburg||Sedgwick||2000||0.1 miles |
|F0||SW of Julesburg (1st tornado)||Sedgwick||2200||0.1 miles |
|F0||SW of Julesburg (2nd tornado)||Sedgwick||2200||0.1 miles |
|F0||NW of Julesburg||Sedgwick||2200||0.1 miles |
|F2||NE of Mason City||Custer, Sherman, Valley||2030||6.6 miles |
|F2||NW of Giltner||Hamilton||2100||6.6 miles |
|F0||S of Phillips||Hamilton||2100||4.1 miles |
|F1||NE of Rising City to NW of Linwood||Butler||2100||22.7 miles |
|F4||NW of Loup City to SW of Ord||Sherman, Valley||2115||15 miles |
|F2||E of Scotia to SW of Spalding||Greeley||2200||20.1 miles |
|F2||NE of Octavia||Butler||2200||6.9 miles |
|F3||NW of Albion||Boone||2215||8 miles |
|F0||SE of Upland||Franklin||2230||9 miles |
|F1||E of Macon||Franklin||2300||15 miles |
|F2||SW of Battle Creek to S of Pierce||Madison||2300||16.6 miles |
|F2||SW of Pierce to SW of Laurel||Pierce, Cedar||2300||31 miles |
|F1||N of Breslau||Pierce||2310||8.2 miles |
|F0||SW of Martinsburg||Dixon||2340||1.5 miles |
|F2||NW of Blair||Washington||0045||4.1 miles |
|F0||S of Hooper||Dodge||0100||1 miles |
|F0||N of Mitchell||Davison||2345||1.5 miles |
|F2||NE of Westfield||Plymouth||0015||11.3 miles |
|F2||N of Ida Grove to E of Fenton||Ida, Sac, Pocahontas, Kossuth||0130||49.2 miles |
|F2||N of Gowne to SW of Olaf||Webster, Hamilton, Wright||0300||49 miles |
|F3||W of Pomeroy to SE of Bode||Calhoun, Pocahontas, Humboldt||0315||30.7 miles |
|F2||NE of Winterset to E of Walford||Madison, Warren, Polk, Jasper, Poweshiek, Iowa, Johnson||0315||116 miles |
|F1||E of Boxholm||Boone, Hamilton||0330||2.3 miles |
|F1||SE of Trimont to SE of Grogan||Martin, Watonwan||0100||19.1 miles |
|Source: Tornado History Project - June 7, 1953 Storm Data|
|List of confirmed tornadoes - June 8, 1953|
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|F4||NE of Temperance||Monroe||2315||5.4 miles |
|F3||SW of Ann Arbor||Washtenaw||0030||11.3 miles |
|F3||W of Milford||Livingston, Oakland||0030||9.1 miles |
|F2||E of Sand Lake to N of Oscoda||Iosco||0040||16.6 miles |
|F3||S of Spruce||Alcona||0108||1.8 miles |
|F5||N of Flushing to N of Columbiaville||Genesee, Lapeer||0130||18.9 miles |
|F0||SW of Caseville||Huron||0300||0.1 miles |
|F4||N of Kingshill to N of Port Huron||Lapeer, St. Clair||0330||33.8 miles |
|F4||N of Deshler to Cleveland||Henry, Wood, Sandusky, Erie, Lorain, Cuyahoga||0000||118 miles |
|Source: Tornado History Project - June 8, 1953 Storm Data|
|List of confirmed tornadoes - June 9, 1953|
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|F4||W of Petersham to NE of Fayville||Worcester||2025||46.0 miles |
|F3||E of West Millbury to SE of Foxborough||Worcester, Norfolk, Bristol||2130||28 miles |
|F3||SW of Exeter||Rockingham||2120||1.5 miles |
|F1||W of South Berwick||Strafford||2200||1 miles |
|Source: Tornado History Project - June 9, 1953 Storm Data|
An F5 tornado hit Flint, Michigan on June 8, 1953. The tornado moved east-northeast 2 miles north of Flushing, Michigan and devastated the north side of Flint and Beecher. The tornado first descended about 8:30 p.m. on a humid evening near a drive-in movie theater that was flickering to life at twilight time. Motorists in the drive-in began to flee in panic, creating many auto accidents on nearby roads. The tornado dissipated near Lapeer, Michigan. Nearly every home was destroyed on both sides of Coldwater Road. Multiple deaths were reported in 20 families. It is, as of March 2007, the last single tornado to kill more than 100 people in the United States. One hundred and sixteen were killed, making it the ninth deadliest tornado in U.S. history. It is also one of only three F5 tornadoes ever to hit in Michigan. Another F5 would hit in Hudsonville on April 3, 1956.
Ninety-four people were killed.
Coincidentally, residents of central Massachusetts were coming home from work in the minutes before impact and picked up their evening newspapers to read the front-page headlines of the tornado that had just struck Flint, Michigan the previous evening. Some wondered if it was exactly the same tornado that was now bearing down on them.
|All deaths were tornado-related|
The massive Worcester tornado was on the ground for nearly an hour and a half. In that period it traveled 46 miles, reached 1 mile in width and injured 1,300 people. Barre suffered the first 2 fatalities. The tornado then renewed its vigor in Rutland center with 2 more deaths, and widened to 1/2 mile in Holden, where 9 were killed outright (a 10th succumbed 2 days later), the worst-hit areas being Winthrop Oaks & Brentwood.
At 5:08 P.M., the tornado entered Worcester and grew to an unprecedented width of 1 mile. Damage was phenomenal in Worcester (second largest city in Massachusetts) and in some areas equaled the worst damage in any U.S. tornado. Hardest-hit areas included Assumption College (now Quinsigamond Community College), where a priest and 2 nuns were killed. The main building's 3-foot-thick brick walls were reduced by 3 floors, and the landmark tower lost 3 stories. The nearby Burncoat Hill neighborhood saw heavy devastation (especially on its western slope), but it was the Uncatena-Great Brook Valley neighborhoods to the east of Burncoat Hill that were utterly leveled, houses simply vanishing and debris swept clean from the sites. Forty people died in the Uncatena-Great Brook Valley areas alone. A 12-ton bus was picked up, rolled over several times and was thrown against the newly-constructed Curtis Apts. in Great Brook Valley, resulting in the deaths of 2 passengers. The Curtis Apts. blueprints were blown all the way to Duxbury (near Plymouth), 75 miles away. Across Boylston St. from the Curtis Apts., the Brookside Home Farm (a city-operated dairy facility and laundry) sustained total damage, with 6 men killed and the loss of its herd of 80 Holsteins. Wrecked houses and bodies were blown into Lake Quinsigamond. The 6 fatalities at Brookside were the most in any 1 particular building in the tornado.
The funnel maintained a 1-mile width throughout much of Shrewsbury (12 killed), and was still doing maximum damage when it moved through downtown Westborough (5 deaths), where it began curving towards the northeast in its final leg. In the storm's final moments, 3 perished in the collapse of the Fayville Post Office in Southborough. Coincidentally, around the time it ended 5:45 P.M., a tornado warning was issued, although by then it was too late. A separate F2/3 tornado also struck about the same time the warning was issued, in the nearby communities of Sutton, Northbridge, Mendon, Bellingham, Franklin, Wrentham & Mansfield in Massachusetts, injuring 17 persons. Another tornado did minor damage and caused several injuries in Fremont & Exeter in Rockingham County, New Hampshire; other smaller tornadoes occurred in Colrain, Mass. & Rollinsford, N.H.
Baseball-size hail was reported in a score of communities affected by the Worcester supercell. Airborne debris was strewn eastward, reaching the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory 35 mi (56 km) away, and even out over Massachusetts Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The farthest documented distance of tornado debris was an item that blew from Holden to Eastham (on Cape Cod), a distance of 110 miles. This is one of the greatest such instances in a U.S. tornado.
The Worcester Tornado was a milestone in many regards, and not only because of its enormous size or unusual geographic location. At the time, it was the nation's COSTLIEST tornado in raw dollars, and its 1,300 injuries were the 3rd worst in U.S. history (until the 1979 Wichita Falls tornado bumped it to number 4, where it still stands). The tally of 10,000 homeless stood unchallenged for 26 years until the '79 Wichita Falls storm.
However, the Worcester Tornado's greatest effect on the nation was its being the catalyst for the Storm Prediction Center's reorganization on June 17, 1953, and subsequent implementation of a nationwide radar/storm spotter system. The results have proven successful: since June 9, 1953, no U.S. tornado death toll has approached the century mark. The Worcester Tornado, with 94 fatalities (19th worst on record), is the last such storm to kill more than 90 people (as of June 2008), and thus represents the last of the large-fatality tornadoes of an earlier time.
The severity of this epic storm remained in dispute for a long period within the meteorological community. Official observations classified this tornado as F4, but damage was consistent with an F5 tornado in 5 of the affected towns (Rutland, Holden, Worcester, Shrewsbury & Westborough). As a result of this debate, the National Weather Service took an unprecedented step and convened a panel of weather experts during the spring of 2005 to study the latest evidence on the wind strength of the Worcester Tornado. The panel considered whether or not to raise the designation of the storm to F5, but finally decided during the summer of 2005 to keep the official rating as a strong F4. The reasoning for this was that the anchoring techniques used in many of the destroyed or vanished homes could never now be ascertained with certainty, and some of these structures (many of recent postwar construction) were possibly more vulnerable to high winds than older homes. Without a proper engineering qualification, it would be nearly impossible to determine with 100% accuracy which damage was F5 and which was F4, as appearances would be similar.
Other severe tornadoes of 1953 hit Warner Robins GA in April, San Angelo TX in May (same day as Waco), Port Huron MI also in May, Cleveland OH in June (same day as Flint), and Vicksburg MS in December.