1957 deadly Dallas, Texas tornado was the first to be quantifiably studied

Randi MannDigital Reporter

On this day in weather history, a tornado swept through Dallas, Texas.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.


Sometimes, for This Day In Weather History articles, it's difficult to find photos. Not everyone has been ready with their smartphone over the past century. But, on Tuesday, April 2, 1957, a mammoth tornado found cameras.

dallas tornado

Dallas, Texas tornado. Courtesy of NOAA

Between April 2-5, a tornado outbreak ravaged through the southern United States. In total, there were at least 72 tornadoes that hit states from Texas to Virginia, killing 21 people.

The most famous of those tornadoes was the one that spun through the densely populated Dallas–Fort Worth metropolitan area. That twister alone killed 10 people and injured at least 200.

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dallas tornado

Dallas, Texas tornado. Courtesy of NOAA

The tornado first touched down at around 4:30 p.m. in Dallas County. The F3 force of nature travelled northward for about 45 minutes, spanning 27.7 km.

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As the tornado entered residential areas, it completely swept homes off of their foundation. It completely destroyed 131 homes and damaged an additional 398 homes.

The tornado's highest recorded wind speed was 282 km/h.

Dallas tornado

Dallas, Texas tornado. Courtesy of NOAA

Approximately 125 people photographed the tornado, so there was plenty of footage for scientists and meteorologists to study. And because it struck buildings, engineers were able to better understand the between wind speed and the impact on different types of buildings.

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Because the event was so well documented and studied, it goes down in history as the first significant quantitative success for modern scientific research into tornadoes.

To learn more about this historic tornado, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

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Thumbnail: "1957 Dallas multi-vortex 1 edited." Courtesy of Wikipedia