May 1957 Central Plains tornado outbreak sequence

The May 1957 Central Plains tornado outbreak sequence was a tornado outbreak sequence that took place across the US Central Plains from May 19 to May 21, 1957.[nb 1][nb 2] The most destructive tornado of the outbreak was rated at F5, the highest level, and is often called the Ruskin Heights tornado. The worst of the damage occurred in the Ruskin Heights area, a suburb and housing development south of Kansas City, Missouri. 57 tornadoes were reported from Colorado to the Mississippi Valley and 59 people were killed during the outbreak, including 44 in the Ruskin Heights tornado.

Outbreak death toll
State Total County County
Kansas 7 Franklin 3
Miami 4
Missouri 52 Carter 7
Jackson 37
St. Francois 8
Totals 59
All deaths were tornado-related
May 1957 Central Plains tornado outbreak
Map of tornadoes on May 21, 1957.
TypeTornado outbreak
DurationMay 19-May 21, 1957
Tornadoes confirmed57 confirmed
Max. rating1F5 tornado
Duration of tornado outbreak2~54 hours
DamageNot available
Casualties59 fatalities; total injuries unknown
Areas affectedGreat Plains, Midwestern United States
1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale
2Time from first tornado to last tornado

Tornado table

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
FU F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
0 12 14 20 7 3 1 57

Confirmed tornadoes

May 19 event

List of confirmed tornadoes
Time (UTC)
Path length
F1 NW of Bayard Scotts Bluff 0130 1.7 miles
(2.7 km)
A home was pushed off of its foundation and had its roof torn off. Outbuildings were destroyed as well.[2]
F2 N of Northport Scotts Bluff 0330 5.1 miles
(8.2 km)
Tornado destroyed two outbuildings and partially unroofed a farmhouse. Low-end F2 damage, perhaps not even F2 in intensity.[2]
F1 W of Gurley Cheyenne 0400 2 miles
(3.2 km)
Source: Tornado History Project - May 19, 1957 Storm Data

May 20 event

List of confirmed tornadoes
Time (UTC)
Path length
F0 W of Burlington to NW of St. Francis, KS Kit Carson, Sherman (KS), Cheyenne (KS), Rawlins (KS) 1700 70.1 miles
(112.2 km)
F0 Phillipsburg area Phillips 1755 1 miles
(1.6 km)
F0 N of Downs Osborne 1915 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
F0 SW of Hunter Mitchell 1925 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
F1 N of Burr Oak Jewell 2005 5.7 miles
(9.1 km)
F4 E of Glasco to N of Morrowville Cloud, Republic, Washington 2050 44.6 miles
(71.4 km)
Wedge tornado produced "near-F5" damage on several farms and was observed with multiple satellite tornadoes. Several different tornadoes may have produced the damage, perhaps a tornado family.[2]
F2 NW of Aurora Cloud 2050 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Satellite tornado to the Glasco tornado. A barn was leveled.[2]
F2 W of Huscher (1st tornado) Cloud 2050 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
Satellite tornado to the Glasco tornado. One barn was destroyed.[2]
F2 W of Huscher (2nd tornado) Cloud 2050 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
F3 NE of Rice Cloud 2050 6.1 miles
(9.8 km)
Tornado destroyed one barn east of Hollis. May have been only F2 in intensity. Was a satellite tornado to the Glasco tornado.[2]
F0 S of Hartford Lyon 2345 0.5 miles
(0.8 km)
F0 NW of Madison Greenwood 0015 1 miles
(1.6 km)
F5 SW of Williamsburg to E of Raytown, MO (SE Kansas City) Franklin, Miami, Johnson, Jackson (MO) 0015 69.4 miles
(111 km)
44 deaths - Tornado began near Williamsburg, and moved NE through several counties. Major damage occurred in rural areas near Ottawa and Spring Hill, where homes were completely leveled and several fatalities occurred. The tornado continued into the southern suburbs of Kansas City, tearing through Martin City, Raytown, Hickman Mills, and Ruskin Heights. Entire blocks of homes were completely leveled, many of which were swept cleanly away with debris wind-rowed long distances through nearby fields. Some homes had their anchor-bolted subflooring ripped away, leaving only basements behind. Many businesses including a grocery store, a shopping center, and restaurants were completely destroyed. A few of the businesses at the shopping center sustained F5 damage. Vehicles were thrown through the air and destroyed, and the steel-reinforced Ruskin Heights High School was badly damaged. A canceled check from Hickman Mills was found 165 miles away in Ottumwa, Iowa.[2][3]
F3 Homewood area Franklin 0137 5.6 miles
(9 km)
F0 N of Red Cloud Webster 2015 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
F1 NE of Broken Bow Custer 2017 2.7 miles
(4.3 km)
F0 E of Guide Rock Nuckolls 2020 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
F1 SW of Anselmo Custer 2100 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
F2 W of Reynolds to E of Palmyra Thayer, Jefferson, Saline, Lancaster 2200 75.3 miles
(120.5 km)
Homes had their roofs torn off near Alexandria and multiple outbuildings were destroyed. Over 500 turkeys were killed on one farm.[2]
F2 Doniphan to NE of Phillips Hall, Hamilton 2300 18.2 miles
(29.1 km)
Three farms were damaged by the tornado.
F2 NE of Friend to N of Emerald Saline, Gage, Lancaster 2320 23.9 miles
(38.2 km)
Barns were destroyed on two farms.[2]
South Dakota
F1 N of Rockerville Pennington 2100 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
F2 W of Weatherby DeKalb 2300 9.8 miles
(15.7 km)
Barns and outbuildings were destroyed.
F2 SW of Richmond Jackson, Ray 0137 12.8 miles
(20.5 km)
F0 N of Pawnee Pawnee 2300 0.5 miles
(0.8 km)
F2 NE of Hominy Osage 2345 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
F2 NW of Prague Lincoln 0000 unknown Tornado damaged eight farms near Prague.
F0 NW of Kiefer Creek 0100 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
F0 E of Hogshooter Nowata 0100 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
F1 Broken Arrow area (SE Tulsa) Tulsa 0130 3.6 miles
(5.8 km)
Tornado moved through the town causing roof damage to at least 200 homes, one of which lost its roof entirely.[2]
F0 SW of Beggs Okmulgee 0204 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
F1 W of Chelsea Rogers 0430 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
F1 NW of Centralia Craig 0500 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
F1 NE of Vinita Craig 0500 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
F3 NW of Garland to NE of Sallisaw Mayes, Delaware 0510 20.4 miles
(32.6 km)
Barns were destroyed by the tornado. 40 buildings were damaged in and around Spavinaw. One home was destroyed near Lone Chapel as well.[2]
Source: Tornado History Project - May 20, 1957 Storm Data

May 21 event

List of confirmed tornadoes
Time (UTC)
Path length
F1 NE of Staples Todd, Cass 1800 3.8 miles
(6.1 km)
A barn and a garage were destroyed. Pine trees were snapped as well.[2]
F4 E of Rush City Chisago 1900 9.2 miles
(14.7 km)
Eight barns and four homes were destroyed. One home was completely swept away with near-F5-level damage.[2]
F3 E of Doss Dent 2100 10.2 miles
(16.3 km)
Three homes were destroyed, one of which was leveled. Two other homes were damaged.[2]
F2 S of Squires Taney, Douglas 2115 14.5 miles
(23.2 km)
Homes and one school was destroyed. The teacher and 11 students survived by driving to a farmhouse with a basement.[2]
F1 NE of Mill Spring Wayne 2130 13 miles
(20.8 km)
Homes had their roofs torn off and buildings were damaged on four farms.[2]
F1 S of Centerville Reynolds 2145 0.2 miles
(0.32 km)
F3 SW of Sunlight to Desloge Washington, St. Francois 2145 22.2 miles
(35.5 km)
8 deaths Multiple homes and 24 barns were destroyed. 20% of the town of Belgrade was destroyed.[2]
F4 Fremont area Carter 2153 9.1 miles
(14.6 km)
7 deaths - Fremont was devastated, with homes, businesses, and schools destroyed on the east side of town. Damage also occurred on the south side of Van Buren. May have been an F5.[2]
F2 N of Burfordville Cape Girardeau 2300 5.1 miles
(8.2 km)
Several farms were damaged by the tornado. Barns were destroyed and a house had its roof torn off.[2]
F2 E of Lewistown Lewis 2330 7.4 miles
(11.8 km)
Struck the northwest side of Monticello. Four homes were destroyed and a three-story apartment building was badly damaged.[2]
F1 E of Cardwell to N of Deering Dunklin, Pemiscot 0545 23.7 miles
(37.9 km)
Tornado caused roof and barn damage.
F2 W of Kennett Dunklin 0545 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
F2 S of Columbia to SE of Shiloh Monroe, St. Clair 2150 19.7 miles
(31.5 km)
F2 SE of Claremont Richland 2300 3.6 miles
(5.8 km)
Four farms were struck by the tornado.[2]
F3 S of Makanda Union, Jackson 0007 8.5 miles
(13.6 km)
25 structures and over 5,000 fruit trees were destroyed.[2]
F3 N of Good Hope McDonough 0140 13.7 miles
(21.9 km)
Two homes were destroyed on the southeast edge of Colmar.
F2 W of Stockton Cedar, Muscatine, Scott 2300 8.9 miles
(14.2 km)
Several barns and a grain elevator were destroyed.
F2 SW of Pelzer Warrick 0203 0.1 miles
(0.16 km)
A home was spun 150 feet (50 yd) off its foundation. The roof was carried 500 feet (170 yd). Two people were injured.[2]
F2 W of English Carroll 0700 0.8 miles
(1.3 km)
Source: Tornado History Project - May 21, 1957 Storm Data

See also


  1. Schneider, Russell S.; Harold E. Brooks; Joseph T. Schaefer. "Tornado Outbreak Day Sequences: Historic Events and Climatology (1875-2003)" (PDF). Norman, Oklahoma: Storm Prediction Center. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  2. Grazulis, Thomas P (July 1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. ISBN 1-879362-03-1.
  3. "55th Anniversary of the Ruskin Heights-Hickman Mills Tornado". Archived from the original on June 5, 2008. Retrieved 2013-07-13.


  • Caught in the Path, (ISBN 0-9655774-0-6) by Carolyn Glenn Brewer.


  1. An outbreak is generally defined as a group of at least six tornadoes (the number sometimes varies slightly according to local climatology) with no more than a six-hour gap between individual tornadoes. An outbreak sequence, prior to (after) modern records that began in 1950, is defined as, at most, two (one) consecutive days without at least one significant (F2 or stronger) tornado.[1]
  2. All damage totals are in 1957 United States dollars unless otherwise noted.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.