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List of tornado-related deaths at schools

These are all known tornadoes that have resulted in student deaths at primary and secondary schools in the United States from 1884 - 2007.

List

Date Location (school) Local Time (touchdown) Fatalities (school) Wikipedia article
February 19, 1884 Goshen, Alabama 2:30 p.m. 1 Enigma tornado outbreak
May 2, 1887 Wauseon, Ohio 12:35 p.m. 1
May 17, 1889 Forestburg, Texas 4:00 p.m. 2
June 20, 1890 Paw Paw, Illinois 2:30 p.m. 7
September 7, 1893 Lockport, Louisiana 9:30 a.m. 3
May 3, 1895 Ireton-Hull, Iowa 2:30 p.m. 7 Hull, Iowa Tornado Outbreak of 1895
May 27, 1896 Mexico-Bean, Missouri 3:15 p.m. 4 St. Louis-East St. Louis Tornado/May 1896 tornado outbreak sequence
March 22, 1897 Arlington, Georgia 8:30 a.m. 8
January 3, 1906 Josie-Banks, Alabama 11:30 a.m. 2
March 13, 1913 Lawrenceburg, Tennessee 1:45 p.m. 1 Southeast Tornado Outbreak of March 1913
January 4, 1917 Vireton, Oklahoma 11:00 a.m. 16
February 23, 1917 Hollins, Alabama 3:30 p.m. 2 Southeast Tornado Outbreak of February 1917
March 23, 1917 New Albany, Indiana 3:08 p.m. 5 Mid-Mississippi Valley Tornado Outbreak of March 1917
January 11, 1918 Dothan-Cowarts, Alabama 1:40 p.m. 8
November 4, 1922 Holyoke, Colorado 9:30 a.m. 1 Great Plains Tornado Outbreak of November 1922
April 27, 1923 Johnson City, Kansas 12:15 p.m. 1
April 30, 1924 Horrell Hill, South Carolina 11:00 a.m. 7 Southeast Outbreak of April 1924
March 18, 1925 Missouri-Illinois-Indiana (nine schools) 1:01 p.m. 69 Tri-State Tornado
November 9, 1926 La Plata, Maryland 2:35 p.m. 17 La Plata, Maryland Tornado of November 1926
April 19, 1927 Carrollton, Illinois 11:45 a.m. 1 Southern Plains-Midwest Tornado Outbreak of April 1927
May 9, 1927 Poplar Bluff, Missouri 2:35 p.m. 2 1927 St. Louis Tornado Outbreak
December 7, 1927 Tunnel Springs, Alabama 11:30 a.m. 1
January 24, 1928 Smithville, Tennessee 2:00 p.m. 4
September 13, 1928 Pender, Nebraska 3:40 p.m. 3 Upper Plains-Midwest Tornado Outbreak of September 1928
January 18, 1929 Maunie, Illinois 11:20 a.m. 2 Middle-Mississippi Valley Tornado Outbreak of January 1929
March 22, 1929 Merrellton, Alabama 11:00 a.m. 5
April 24, 1929 Slocum, Texas 12:20 p.m. 1 Plains, Midwest, and Southeast Tornado Outbreak of April 1929
May 2, 1929 Rye Cove, Virginia 12:25 p.m. 13 Eastern U.S. Tornado Outbreak of May 1929
November 19, 1930 Bethany, Oklahoma 9:30 a.m. 6 Oklahoma-Kansas Tornado Outbreak of November 1930
January 5, 1931 Norlina, North Carolina 4:45 p.m. 1
February 14, 1936 McRae-Helena, Georgia 4:30 p.m. 2
April 26, 1938 Oshkosh, Nebraska 2:15 p.m. 3 Oshkosh, Nebraska Tornado Outbreak
February 6, 1942 Jasper County, Georgia 1:30 p.m. 4 Southeast Tornado Outbreak of February 1942
March 16, 1942 O'Tuckalofa, Mississippi 3:00 p.m. 1 March 1942 tornado outbreak
April 27, 1942 Ortonville, Minnesota 3:05 p.m. 2 Pryor, Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak
January 26, 1944 Granite, Oklahoma 8:30 p.m. 1 January 1944 Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak
March 6, 1944 Horton, Alabama 3:00 p.m. 1
April 12, 1945 Muskogee, Oklahoma 4:50 p.m. 3 Southern Plains-Midwest Tornado Outbreak of April 1945
December 31, 1947 Village, Arkansas 7:35 p.m. 1 New Years Eve Tornado Outbreak of 1947
February 1, 1955 Commerce Landing, Mississippi 2:20 p.m. 23 Commerce Landing, Mississippi Tornado Outbreak
January 24, 1967 Orrick, Missouri 12:40 p.m. 2 1967 St. Louis tornado outbreak
April 21, 1967 Belvidere, Illinois 3:50 p.m. 13 Belvidere - Oak Lawn tornado outbreak
May 4, 1978 Clearwater, Florida 10:47 a.m. 3 Sarasota, Florida Tornadoes
November 16, 1989 (*) Newburgh, New York 12:05 p.m. 9 November 1989 Tornado Outbreak
August 28, 1990 (**) Plainfield, Illinois 2:30 p.m. 5 Plainfield Tornado
March 1, 2007 Enterprise, Alabama 1:10 p.m. 8 February-March 2007 Tornado Outbreak

  • *Although officially listed as a tornado, this is a probable downburst
  • **Five staff members at two schools killed the day before classes were to begin

Discussion

From 1884-2007, there were 45 tornadoes with school fatalities in the United States. These tornadoes killed 271 (not including the 9 from the probable downburst in New York state). Tornado warnings began being issued in 1950 (and tornado watches in late 1952); and there is a very sharp decrease in number of killer tornado events at schools after this time, as well as a large decrease in death tolls from tornadoes overall. There were 39 tornadoes with deaths at schools (219 deaths) before 1953 and 6 events (52 deaths) after that year (not including the probable downburst in New York). Two high fatality events after 1953 occurred in Mississippi (23 in 1955) and Illinois (13 in 1967); accounting for 82% of 1952-2006 deaths, both from violent class tornadoes.

More tornadoes with deaths in schools have occurred in the Southeastern United States -- 23 events or over half the national total -- than any other region. Four of the top ten death toll events occurred in the Southeast. Relatively few school fatality tornado events have occurred in the area with the highest frequency of strong tornadoes, the Great Plains (Tornado Alley); no events have occurred after warnings began being issued. This is probably chiefly due to three reasons: the low population density, greater tornado awareness (and better visibility affording more warning), and the time of year and day that most tornadoes strike the Great Plains.

The state with the most tornado deaths throughout history is Illinois, with 90. The largest school death toll from a tornado was 69 during the Tri-State Tornado, which also struck Illinois and significantly raised that state's death toll. The greatest death toll at a single school also occurred during the Tri-State tornado, when it killed 33 at a school in De Soto, also in Illinois. This tornado also injured hundreds more at schools, and killed many students returning home from schools. Additionally, three of the top ten events by death toll, and four if separate schools of the same tornado are counted (33 in De Soto and 25 in Murphysboro again from the Tri-State Tornado), have occurred in Illinois.

The state with the highest number of tornadoes with deaths at schools is Alabama at 8 events. Illinois is second with 6 tornadoes. Missouri and Oklahoma rank third both with 4 tornadoes. Fourth is Georgia with 3 tornadoes. Fifth are Texas, Tennessee, Indiana, Nebraska, Mississippi, and Arkansas, each with 2 events. At sixth with one school fatality tornado event each are Ohio, Louisiana, Iowa, Colorado, Kansas, South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Florida (the probable downburst in New York is not included).

References

  • Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991, A Chronology and Analysis of Events. The Tornado Project of Environmental Films: St. Johnsbury, VT. ISBN 1-879362-03-1

External links

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