World's Earliest Tornado Photos

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Apr 22, 2009
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preferrably near a storm
I've seen some of those photos before, but there's just something about that grainy, blurry old black and white format that makes tornadoes look just that much more scary. They frightened me as a child to see them. Thanks for posting!
 
Mar 3, 2012
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Thanks for sharing, Amanda. Here are some additional early tornado photos.

June 1915 near Greensburg, KS



March 23, 1913 in Omaha, NE



Same tornado, narrowing a bit as it exits Omaha



March 21, 1932 in Shelby County, AL, part of the 1932 Deep South outbreak



March 21, 1932 near Northport, AL, part of same event

 
Mar 15, 2004
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Tucson, Aridzona
www.flickr.com
I think it's safe to say that those old images are largely responsible for my interest in severe weather. As a kid, I found them fascinating, yet terrifying. I'd read weather books 'till I fell asleep, then - BIG SURPRISE! - dream that tornadoes were chasing me. :rolleyes: (I won't mention the numerous volcano books that also caused alarm.) The relative lack of truly instructive reading material didn't help; tornadoes were mysterious events that Just Might! occur anywhere, at any time. The fact that I lived in the Bay area was utterly irrelevant, and did nothing to temper my Tornado Anxiety.

Although not nearly as old, the Elkhart, Indiana double vortex image also held great fascination. Since when do tornadoes come in pairs? :eek: As if one wasn't bad enough...


(http://ww2.ohiohistory.org/etcetera/exhibits/swio/pages/albums/1965_tornadoes/1965_tornadoes_albumPage01.html)
 
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Mar 3, 2012
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Your experience sounds similar to mine, Greg. And I'm sure many others here as well. I used to be absolutely terrified of tornadoes when I was a kid, I thought they could happen with any run of the mill thunderstorm and I used to keep a sharp eye for tornadoes any time I heard thunder. I'm sure the many tornado documentaries and video series and photos didn't help that either.

That Goshen/Elkhart series of photos are some of my favorites. I think I recall Bob H. mentioning Paul Huffman actually took another photo that was unreleased? I might have read it wrong though.

And although it isn't a tornado photo (and it isn't particularly early either), this is one of my favorite newspaper headlines. Who'd have ever guessed the 5/15/68 Charles City, Iowa tornado was the strongest ever? :D

 
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Dave C

EF2
Jun 5, 2013
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Denver
www.davidcrowlphotography.com
Great post, thanks for sharing those. I agree these old photos are just menacing and amazing. Saw that first one many times before. The Palm Sunday twin funnels in Elkhart, Indiana is just crazy looking. I bet some chaser today would try to shoot that gap. ;)
 
Mar 15, 2004
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Tucson, Aridzona
www.flickr.com
Your experience sounds similar to mine, Greg. And I'm sure many others here as well. I used to be absolutely terrified of tornadoes when I was a kid, I thought they could happen with any run of the mill thunderstorm and I used to keep a sharp eye for tornadoes any time I heard thunder. I'm sure the many tornado documentaries and video series and photos didn't help that either.
LOL. Back when ANY thunder, or even distant lightning, was cause for an immediate PDS! :D

Just remember, "ALWAYS keep an eye out to the south-west!" :eek:


That Goshen/Elkhart series of photos are some of my favorites. I think I recall Bob H. mentioning Paul Huffman actually took another photo that was unreleased? I might have read it wrong though.
Yea, he took a whole sequence of pictures.
Here's the first reference I found. Scroll down a paragraph or two.
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-0_y5yPeiP3U/TVqkZsDclAI/AAAAAAAABsA/GvBZ5zmhmeE/s320/Huffman+Series+Final.png


Edit - higher resolution pics found at http://stormstalker.wordpress.com/tag/elkhart-tornado/
 
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Apr 23, 2010
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The Elkhart, Indiana double vortex is to me the spookiest photo ever--right there with the grainy Wichita Falls photo that was blown up for pamphlets.

I'd like to see an apparatus with film cameras, camcorders and digital cameras record one funnel from the same spot to compare footage.
 
Mar 11, 2010
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Although not nearly as old, the Elkhart, Indiana double vortex image also held great fascination. Since when do tornadoes come in pairs? :eek: As if one wasn't bad enough...


(http://ww2.ohiohistory.org/etcetera/exhibits/swio/pages/albums/1965_tornadoes/1965_tornadoes_albumPage01.html)
Never seen that picture before and WOW~ Just amazing....although, I must say...if those were barreling down the road towards me I would be running for cover and a new pair of pants!
 
Apr 22, 2010
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Speaking of 'dead man walking', here are a couple of screen captures from Reed Timmer's video of the genesis of the May 31 El Reno tornado...

DMW_5.jpg

DMW_6.jpg



Here's a link to the Reed's video...http://youtu.be/kOh9Ptz4w28

Jim Bishop's video from that day, http://youtu.be/Dt460upqmXE, has a couple of instances that resemble the Midway Trailer Park 'twins', though the wrapping rain curtains in Jim's video make it harder to discern.

I've always been haunted by that Jarrell picture, and actually noticed the El Reno version in Reed's video when he first posted it. The Jarrell tornado occurred on my 29th birthday. I was at a bar here in Richmond with some friends when I began to see the news reports come in via the volumeless tv in the corner of the bar. Needless to say, my birthday cheerfulness abandoned the room as the pictures of utter devestation silently filled that tv.

Reed

(not sure how to get the pics to show)
 
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Mar 3, 2012
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Here you go Tim:





The easiest way is to upload it to an external photo host, copy the direct link they give you, and then click insert image -> from URL and then paste your link there. You'll have to uncheck the checkbox too.

Anyway, that's a great catch. Very Jarrell-like. I'm still curious whether that legend actually has any basis. Kinda doubtful that it does, but it's a great story.

Edit: Marcus Diaz posted a more thorough explanation you can read here:

http://www.stormtrack.org/forum/showthread.php?29833-How-to-post-full-photos-up
 
Mar 3, 2012
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How about a few old-school videos? I can't seem to get more than one video to show, so the other's just a link.

6/8/1951 Corn, OK. The first tornado ever known to be filmed in the US:

Watch video >

4/30/1953 Warner-Robins AFB:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qd5J86bX2Y

Same tornado:



And a couple of pictures from one of the most spectacular series of photos ever taken on 6/8/1966 in Topeka. They were taken by Perry Riddle, one of the Topeka Capital-Journal's staff photographers. He was about two miles east of Burnett's Mound as the tornado passed over it and roared into the County Fair Estates subdivision.





 
Apr 23, 2010
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I think it may have been Stephen King who had a conversation with Carpenter about a dream one of them had (origin of The Mist?) about something huge striding the earth.

The ironic thing was that the time when HPL's fictional ship Alert met a certain inhabitant of R'yleh was mid March, 1925.

I wonder if Tri-State had influenced old H.P Lovecraft
 
Mar 3, 2012
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Ah, I forgot about this excellent series of photos showing the rapid growth of the May 21, 1949 Cape Girardeau, MO tornado.

 
Jul 2, 2004
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Hastings, Michigan
www.stormhorn.com
That Goshen/Elkhart series of photos are some of my favorites. I think I recall Bob H. mentioning Paul Huffman actually took another photo that was unreleased? I might have read it wrong though.
Just noticed this. I probably did say that, Shawn. When I interviewed Paul and his wife, Elizabeth, a few years ago, he mentioned that he had taken seven photos. That puzzled me, because I had only seen the six, and I asked him about it. As I recall, he seemed pretty certain that he had taken seven photos, but I never did get to see the seventh. Now I question my memory, and if it's accurate, then I kind of question Paul's. I have the tape of that interview. I need to go back and listen to it just to satisfy my own curiosity.

That whole northern Indiana part of the Palm Sunday outbreak continues to intrigue me, even haunt me. I lived so close to where it took place when I was a child--just 25 miles from Dunlap--and as an adult, I've spent some extended time exploring the areas that got hit: Koontz Lake, Wyatt, La Paz, the Shore neighborhood by Rainbow Lake, CR15/Us 20, and especially Midway and Dunlap. I've walked through the old Midway Trailer Court grounds a number of times, or what's left of them, and I've stood at the spot where I believe Paul shot his amazing photos that day. An overpass now crosses the part where the tornado went through.
 
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