1979 Red River Valley tornado outbreak

  (Redirected from Red River Valley Tornado Outbreak)

The 1979 Red River Valley tornado outbreak was a tornado event that occurred on April 10, 1979, near the Red River Valley. It is noted for the F4 tornado that hit Wichita Falls, Texas, and is commonly referred to as "Terrible Tuesday" by many meteorologists. Additional tornadoes were reported across the Southern Plains as well as in the Mississippi River Valley on April 10–11, 1979.

1979 Red River Valley tornado outbreak
Destruction in Wichita Falls, Texas, after the tornado
TypeTornado outbreak
DurationApril 10–11, 1979
Tornadoes confirmed59 confirmed
Max. rating1F4 tornado
Duration of tornado outbreak22 days
Casualties58 fatalities, approximately 2000 injuries [1]
Areas affectedMidwestern and Southern United States
1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale
2Time from first tornado to last tornado

Meteorological SynopsisEdit

A deepening low pressure system formed in Colorado as a warm front lifted north pulling warm, moist, unstable air. There was strong upper level dynamics all coming together to produce strong tornado-producing supercells. In the early afternoon hours, three supercell thunderstorms formed. They moved northeastward, and as a trio spawned families of tornadoes. These supercells caused the most damaging tornadoes of the outbreak.

The first tornado formed near Crowell, Texas, at around 3:05 p.m. About 35 minutes later, the first killer one of the outbreak ripped through Vernon and killed 11 people. Then the supercell spawned one that killed three people in Lawton, Oklahoma. The second supercell spawned one that moved 64 miles (103 km).

The third supercell was the one that formed the Seymour and Wichita Falls tornadoes as part of a three-member tornado family. The first tornado formed near Seymour at around 4:53 pm. The storm spawned a second tornado that moved through the south and east sides of Wichita Falls at around 6:00 pm. The third member of the family formed near Waurika, Oklahoma, at around 8:00 p.m.

Confirmed tornadoesEdit

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
FU F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
0 10 18 25 4 2 0 59

April 10 eventEdit

List of confirmed tornadoes – Tuesday, April 10, 1979[nb 1]
F# Location County / Parish State Start Coord. Time (UTC) Path length Max width Summary Refs
F0 S of Crosbyton Crosby TX 33°39′N 101°14′W / 33.65°N 101.23°W / 33.65; -101.23 (Crosbyton (Apr. 10, F0)) 1908 2 miles (3.2 km) [2][3]
F0 E of Plainview Hale TX 34°12′N 101°41′W / 34.20°N 101.68°W / 34.20; -101.68 (Plainview (Apr. 10, F0)) 1938 0.1 miles (160 m) [2][3]
F2 SW of Foard City to S of Rayland Foard TX 33°51′N 99°48′W / 33.85°N 99.80°W / 33.85; -99.80 (Foard City (Apr. 10, F0)) 2105 22.1 miles (35.6 km) Homes were unroofed and barns were destroyed. [2][3]
F4 SE of Rayland, Texas to NE of Davidson, Oklahoma Foard (TX), Wilbarger (TX), Tillman (OK) TX, OK 34°02′N 99°28′W / 34.03°N 99.47°W / 34.03; -99.47 (Rayland (Apr. 10, F0)) 2120 39.7 miles (63.9 km) 11 deaths – Large wedge tornado struck the town of Vernon, where numerous homes and businesses were destroyed including a cafe, motel, and truck stop. 7 of the deaths occurred when vehicles were thrown from US-287. Tornado crossed into Oklahoma, destroying 3 homes and damaging 5 others. Caused $27,000,000 in damage and injured an additional 67 people. [2][3]
F0 SE of Thalia Foard TX 33°59′N 99°32′W / 33.98°N 99.53°W / 33.98; -99.53 (Thalia (Apr. 10, F0)) 2120 2.5 miles (4.0 km) [2][3]
F2 Harrold, Texas to Marlow, Oklahoma Wilbarger (TX), Wichita (TX), Tillman (OK), Cotton (OK), Comanche (OK), Stephens (OK) TX, OK 34°05′N 99°02′W / 34.08°N 99.03°W / 34.08; -99.03 (Harrold (Apr. 10, F0)) 2155 74.1 miles (119.3 km) 1 death – Large wedge tornado moved through Texas and Oklahoma. Eight planes were destroyed at an airport near Grandfield, and a home in the area lost its exterior walls. A grain elevator was destroyed in the Hulen area, and homes were damaged in Pumpkin Center and near Walters. Fatality occurred when a woman took shelter underneath a semi-truck, which rolled over her when the tornado struck. [2][3]
F2 N of Hollister Tillman OK 34°21′N 98°54′W / 34.35°N 98.90°W / 34.35; -98.90 (Hollister (Apr. 10, F0)) 2205 9.2 miles (14.8 km) Three houses were destroyed and several others were damaged. [2][3]
F1 N of Faxon Comanche OK 34°28′N 98°37′W / 34.47°N 98.62°W / 34.47; -98.62 (Faxon (Apr. 10, F0)) 2235 7.1 miles (11.4 km) A mobile home was destroyed in the Faxson area, resulting in two serious injuries. Other homes in the area were damaged. Tornado left suction vortex marks in open fields. [2][3]
F2 NE of Seymour Baylor TX 33°37′N 99°18′W / 33.62°N 99.30°W / 33.62; -99.30 (Seymour (Apr. 10, F0)) 2249 10.4 miles (16.7 km) Tornado damaged roofs, telephone poles, trees, uprooted shrubs and overturned a truck, but remained over open country while at peak intensity. Tornado was well documented on film and by NSSL storm researchers. [2][3]
F3 Lawton area Comanche OK 34°34′N 98°25′W / 34.57°N 98.42°W / 34.57; -98.42 (Lawton (Apr. 10, F0)) 2305 4.5 miles (7.2 km) 3 deaths – Strong tornado struck Lawton, destroying over 116 structures, and damaging over 330 others. Unanchored homes were completely swept from their foundations. One of the fatalities occurred when a car was tossed from a road. [2][3]
F1 SW of Iowa Park Wichita TX 33°54′N 98°48′W / 33.90°N 98.80°W / 33.90; -98.80 (Iowa Park (Apr. 10, F0)) 2308 0.1 miles (160 m) [2][3]
F4 SW of Wichita Falls to E of Waurika, Oklahoma Archer (TX), Wichita (TX), Clay, Jefferson (OK) TX, OK 33°49′N 98°39′W / 33.82°N 98.65°W / 33.82; -98.65 (Wichita Falls (Apr. 10, F0)) 2350 46.9 miles (75.5 km) 42 deathsSee section on this tornado [2][3]
F1 Wichita Falls area Wichita TX 33°54′N 98°30′W / 33.90°N 98.50°W / 33.90; -98.50 (Wichita Falls (Apr. 10, F0)) 0000 2 miles (3.2 km) Second, much weaker tornado in the area. [2][3]
F2 S of Noble Cleveland OK 35°06′N 97°22′W / 35.10°N 97.37°W / 35.10; -97.37 (Noble (Apr. 10, F0)) 0040 2 miles (3.2 km) Two barns were damaged. [2][3]
F2 E of Bellemont Pottawatomie, Lincoln OK 35°25′N 96°45′W / 35.42°N 96.75°W / 35.42; -96.75 (Bellemont (Apr. 10, F0)) 0045 4.6 miles (7.4 km) Two trailers were destroyed, and three homes were damaged. One person was injured. [2][3]
F2 SW of Noble Cleveland OK 35°06′N 97°24′W / 35.10°N 97.40°W / 35.10; -97.40 (Noble (Apr. 10, F0)) 0050 1.5 miles (2.4 km) A mobile home was destroyed. [2][3]
F1 Hays area Ellis KS 38°52′N 99°19′W / 38.87°N 99.32°W / 38.87; -99.32 (Hays (Apr. 10, F0)) 0130 0.5 miles (0.80 km) 67 yd (61 m) [2][3]
F3 W of Pruitt City Carter OK 34°21′N 97°36′W / 34.35°N 97.60°W / 34.35; -97.60 (Pruitt City (Apr. 10, F0)) 0155 12.8 miles (20.6 km) Severe damage in the Pruitt City area. 44 homes and mobile homes were damaged or destroyed. Several vehicles, including a bus, were flipped and tossed. [2][3]
F0 W of Oakland Pottawatomie OK 34°07′N 96°48′W / 34.12°N 96.80°W / 34.12; -96.80 (Oakland (Apr. 10, F0)) 0205 0.2 miles (320 m) [2][3]
F2 SW of Novice Runnels, Coleman TX 31°58′N 99°48′W / 31.97°N 99.80°W / 31.97; -99.80 (Novice (Apr. 10, F0)) 0317 9.6 miles (15.4 km) Large tornado destroyed several barns and scattered debris over a large area. [2][3]
F3 SW of Talpa to N of Coleman Runnels, Coleman TX 31°42′N 99°45′W / 31.70°N 99.75°W / 31.70; -99.75 (Talpa (Apr. 10, F0)) 0330 25 miles (40 km) Homes and barns were ripped apart. [2][3]
F1 SE of Comanche Comanche TX 31°52′N 98°31′W / 31.87°N 98.52°W / 31.87; -98.52 (Comanche (Apr. 10, F0)) 0550 0.1 miles (160 m) [2][3]
F2 S of Energy to W of Hico Comanche, Hamilton TX 31°45′N 98°22′W / 31.75°N 98.37°W / 31.75; -98.37 (Energy (Apr. 10, F0)) 0550 24 miles (39 km) Barns were destroyed and homes sustained roof damage. A woman was injured when her truck rolled into the ditch in which she was taking cover. [2][3]
F1 Mineral Wells area Palo Pinto TX 32°48′N 98°07′W / 32.80°N 98.12°W / 32.80; -98.12 (Mineral Wells (Apr. 10, F0)) 0556 0.1 miles (160 m) [2][3]

April 11 eventEdit

List of reported tornadoes – Wednesday, April 11, 1979
County / Parish
Time (UTC)
Path length
Path width
F1 NE of Southmayd Grayson 0206 0.1 miles (160 m)
F2 N of Athens Henderson, Van Zandt 1610 13.3 miles (21.4 km)
F2 Sulphur Springs area Hopkins 1612 8.3 miles (13.4 km)
F1 NW of Hainesville Wood 1702 0.1 miles (160 m)
F0 N of Oakland Pottawatomie 0205 0.2 miles (320 m)
F1 NE of Allen Pontotoc 0601 3 miles (4.8 km)
F2 NW of Kingston Marshall 0705 0.1 miles (160 m) A trailer and three barns were destroyed.
F0 W of Beland Muskogee 1000 0.1 miles (160 m)
F2 SW of Eagletown to W of Big Fork (AR) McCurtain, Sevier (AR), Polk (AR) 1715 42 miles (68 km) 3 people were injured in a mobile home near the beginning of the path. Major damage in the Grannis area. Six homes, 19 trailers, and an elementary school were destroyed, where 4 students were injured. Two homes were also destroyed near Wickes. Tornado injured a total of 20 people and caused $1,750,000 in damage.
F2 E of Hattieville Conway 1310 5.4 miles (8.7 km) Six barns and two homes were destroyed. Other homes, barns, and outbuildings were damaged.
F1 W of Mountain View Stone 1442 8.7 miles (14.0 km)
F2 Prairie Grove area Washington 1602 11.1 miles (17.9 km)
F2 NE of Bodcaw Nevada 2010 0.5 miles (0.80 km) Three homes were destroyed and others were damaged.
F2 SW of Guy Faulkner 2015 3 miles (4.8 km) Several buildings were torn apart and a cemetery was damaged. Caused $190,000 in damage.
F2 E of East End to NE of Lonoke Saline, Pulaski, Lonoke 2100 40.3 miles (64.9 km) Several trailers were destroyed. Damage also occurred to machinery, homes and outbuildings.
F1 NE of Fryatt Fulton 2145 0.5 miles (0.80 km)
F1 W of Beebe White 2150 6.5 miles (10.5 km)
F2 NE of Crossett Ashley 2210 10.4 miles (16.7 km) Tornado caused $3,500,000 to the downtown business district in Hamburg. Second tornado to strike Hamburg in three days.
F2 NW of Black Rock Lawrence 2235 2 miles (3.2 km) Caused over $300,000 in damage to homes, barns, and a rock crushing plant.
F2 E of McGehee Desha 2315 3.6 miles (5.8 km) Homes and businesses were torn apart in the McGehee area. Caused a total of $449,000 in damage.
F0 W of Hurley Stone 1310 0.1 miles (160 m)
F3 W of Sterling to E of Licking Douglas, Texas 1500 35.4 miles (57.0 km)
F0 SW of Bakersfield Ozark 2115 2.7 miles (4.3 km)
F1 NE of Libertyville St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve 2330 8.5 miles (13.7 km) A concrete block building was destroyed, and another was partially destroyed. A home was badly damaged, losing a large portion of its front side. Two barns were also destroyed and scattered across a field.
F2 Liberty to SE of Barnesville Clay, Clinton 0100 20.1 miles (32.3 km) Several homes and businesses, a mobile home park, a church, and a school were damaged. Three barns were destroyed as well. 5 bus passengers were injured when they took shelter in a ditch, only to have the bus roll onto them.
F1 NW of Colby Thomas 2100 0.1 miles (160 m)
F1 N of Topeka Shawnee 2300 4.1 miles (6.6 km)
F1 SW of Homer Claiborne 2100 2 miles (3.2 km)
F0 S of Sweetwater Buffalo 0000 0.5 miles (0.80 km)
F1 NW of Roundaway Coahoma 0005 0.5 miles (0.80 km)
F2 NE of Columbus Lowndes 0900 (04/12) 7.7 miles (12.4 km)
F2 S of Dycusburg to W of Bellville Crittenden, Webster, Henderson 0150 36 miles (58 km) Tornado tore a large section of roof from an elementary school near Robards. 5 people were injured when trailers were overturned.
F2 SW of Boonville Vanderburgh, Warrick 0200 10 miles (16 km) 1 death – Moved from the east side of Evansville to north of Boonville. A shopping center and a lumber yard were damaged. 1 person was killed and two others were injured when the tornado struck a mobile home park.
F0 Dickson area Dickson 0500 0.3 miles (480 m)
F1 Florence area Lauderdale 0530 0.5 miles (0.80 km)
Source: Tornado History Project - April 11, 1979 Storm Data Grazulis (1977)

Wichita Falls, TexasEdit

Wichita Falls, Texas
F4 tornado
More destruction from the Wichita Falls tornado
Max. rating1F4 tornado
Casualties46 fatalities
1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale

The Wichita Falls tornado formed in Archer County and moved northeast and damaged a few rural homes and high voltage towers. It rapidly intensified as it entered the city near Memorial Stadium by McNiel Jr. High on Southwest Parkway, which was located to the west of Wichita Falls at approximately 6:07 p.m. damaging both structures severely. Hail the size of golf balls preceded the touchdown and continued for approximately 15 minutes. It then became calm before the winds began to pick up.

The massive wedge tornado, which was at its maximum 1.5 miles (2.4 km) wide, cut a 2.5-mile (4.0 km) swath of destruction through the south side of town, leveling everything in its path. It destroyed an apartment complex near the beginning of its path. It also took its first lives there. It later destroyed a restaurant, the majority of Sikes Senter, the major mall, and another apartment complex where it took more lives. Neighborhoods all along Southwest Parkway were leveled and nothing but debris and destruction remained.

A number of people tried to flee as the tornado moved along U.S. Highways 281 and 287. Roughly half of the 46 people killed were in their cars. It then moved into Clay County and changed its appearance to display a multiple-vortex structure. There were at times five separate vortices visible within the tornado. It inflicted additional damage south of Dean and Byers, but no more fatalities occurred. It crossed into Oklahoma where additional damage occurred before it dissipated.


Outbreak death toll
State Total County County
Indiana 1 Warrick 1
Oklahoma 3 Comanche 3
Texas 54 Wichita 42
Wilbarger 12
Totals 58
All deaths were tornado-related,

At the end of the outbreak, 54 people lost their lives in Texas, three were killed in Oklahoma and one was killed in Indiana. The Wichita Falls tornado alone killed 42 people and caused $400 million in damage ($1.82 billion in today's dollars).[4] The tornado cut a path 8 miles (13 km) through the city, with significant devastation.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ All dates are based on the local time zone where the tornado touched down; however, all times are in Coordinated Universal Time for consistency.


  1. ^ Lietz, Joshua. "Custom Search Results". Tornado History Project.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x April 10, 1979 Storm Data (Report). Tornado History Project. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Grazulis (1979) (Report). Thomas P. Grazulis.
  4. ^ Brooks, Harold E.; Charles A. Doswell III (February 2001). "Normalized Damage from Major Tornadoes in the United States: 1890–1999" (abstract). Weather and Forecasting. American Meteorological Society. 16 (1): 168–76. Bibcode:2001WtFor..16..168B. doi:10.1175/1520-0434(2001)016<0168:NDFMTI>2.0.CO;2.

External links and sourcesEdit

Preceded by
Omaha, Ne. (1975)
Costliest U.S. tornadoes on Record
April 10, 1979
Succeeded by
Bridge Creek, Moore & Oklahoma City (Metro), Ok. (1999)