Old Tornado Account Books

Jun 4, 2018
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Altus, OK
Just reading through the threads in this forum, I have noticed mention of a few old, and in some cases rare, books that give accounts of tornadoes from back before these things were formally documented. A specific example that comes to mind is the book Shinnston Tornado, that documents first hand accounts, photos, and news articles from the tornado that struck Shinnston, WV back during the 6/23/44 outbreak. While Significant Tornadoes, by Tom Grazulis fits the bill to a certain extent, and deserves to be on any list of books covering old tornadoes, those first hand accounts written in the time period are of extra interest to me. Having said all that, I thought it might be a neat idea to try to compile a list of such books here on the forum for any interested parties. It obviously would be interesting to read accounts from a century ago, but from a book collector stand point, it would also provide a checklist of sorts for those who wish to collect these old weather books. If you know of any such books, please reply with the title of the book, the author, and what major event it covered. To start:

Shinnston Tornado, John L. Finlayson; 6/23/44 Shinnston, WV tornado
Significant Tornadoes, 1680-1991 (1880-1989 and 1992-1995), Thomas P. Grazulis; information on all significant events in the listed time frames
 
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Todd Lemery

Staff member
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Jun 2, 2014
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Storm Kings. Written by Lee Sandlin. It goes back to a time when people were trying to figure out what tornadoes were. It starts around 1680 and follows the efforts to understand what was happening up until around 1960 when they were issuing some of the early tornado forecasts. It covers some of the big tornadoes from the early years
 
Feb 19, 2021
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Wichita
There is the classic, "Tornadoes of the United States" by Snowden Flora.

I would also mention my book, "Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather" as it looks at Ruskin Heights, Udall and the Woodward Tornado in ways I don't believe have been done previously.
 
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NancyM

EF2
Jun 14, 2013
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Many first hand accounts of the Ruskin Heights tornado of 1957 are recorded in two books by Caroline Glenn Brewer, who was a survivor herself: "Caught in the Path" & "Caught Ever After".
 
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NancyM

EF2
Jun 14, 2013
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I remember that from when I first joined and I did read your book, which was very interesting. I wasn't a "survivor", per se, because I was about 10 miles north of the path, but I think everyone in the Kansas City area who was old enough remembers that night and the aftermath. Including Gene Clark (RIP) of The Byrds.
 
Feb 19, 2021
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Wichita
No kidding, Nancy. What a terrible night that was.

As we gear up for Tornado Season 2021, I was reviewing some Ruskin Heights photos and data the other day and, more and more, I think Ruskin was/is underestimated by the meteorological community. It was clearly an upper-end F-5. Thank goodness for Bill Leeds, Walt Bodine and all of the broadcasters who handled the Joe Augsley's warnings so well. Otherwise, this would have been another triple-digit fatality 1950's tornado.



I remember that from when I first joined and I did read your book. I wasn't a survivor because I was about 10 miles north of the path, but I think everyone in the Kansas City area who was old enough remembers that night.
 

NancyM

EF2
Jun 14, 2013
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125
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Mike -
Upper-end F-5! Very interesting. And yeah, ~44 fatalities is "low" for such a strong, long path tornado. No tornado sirens then and not many basements in the Ruskin Heights-Lee's Summit area. Walt Bodine, et al. took it in hand and got the message out.
 
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