National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Weather trivia for May

 

May 1, 1895
A tornado nearly one mile wide cut a 22 mile path through
Sedgwick and Harvey Counties in Kansas. 8 people were killed and
25 were injured. 25 farms were completely devastated and a few
entirely vanished.
IN 1909...The low of 19 degrees established the record low for the month
of May at Dodge City.


May 2, 1920
Peggs Oklahoma was completely destroyed by a tornado. Seventy-one people
were killed which was 30 percent of the town's population.
IN 1929...Virginia's worst tornado disaster occurred. Six tornadoes, two
west of the Blue Mountains, killed 22 people. Twelve children and a
teacher were killed at Rye Cove, in Scott county. Four schools
were destroyed by the storms.


May 3, 1912
A tornado moved northwest through Offerle KS. This tornado
destroyed barns and small homes in the north part of town.
National newspapers picked up a false rumor that several Mexican
laborers had been killed in railroad cars.
IN 1954...The low of 28 degrees tied the record low for the month of May
at Liberal.
IN 1987...Thunderstorms produced severe weather in Texas, Oklahoma and
Kansas. Softball size hail was reported at Center Point, TX,
and a tornado caused three million dollars damage near Satanta KS.
IN 1989...Large hail did considerable damage to crops in Ford and Hodgeman
counties with about 10,000 acres of wheat nearly destroyed.
IN 1999...From the afternoon of May 3rd through the evening of May 4th,
there was an outbreak of tornadoes from southwest Texas through
southeast South Dakota. The most devastating part of this
outbreak occurred during the late afternoon and evening of May
3rd over Oklahoma and southern Kansas. Over 70 tornadoes were
spawned across this area, with the strongest one doing damage to
both rural sections of central Oklahoma as well as densely
populated areas of Oklahoma City and its suburbs. This tornado
was rated an F5, the highest on the Fujita Tornado Intensity
Scale. An F4 tornado plowed through Haysville in suburban
Wichita Kansas. A total of 42 people died in Oklahoma and 6 in
south Central Kansas.


May 4, 1922
Austin Texas was hit twice by tornadoes which struck within
thirty minutes of each other. Twelve persons were killed in the
tornadoes.
IN 2007...A destructive tornado hit Greensburg Kansas, the first 5 rating
on the new Enhanced Fujita Scale and the first 5 classification
since May 3, 1999 when an F5 tornado ripped through Moore, Oklahoma.
There were 12 tornadoes that evening from Clark and Comanche counties
to Edwards and Stafford counties during about a 4 hour period,
one a little over 2 miles wide! Two of the tornadoes existed for
over 1 hour as they churned up the ground, leveling homes and causing
fatalities along their path. Miraculously, only 13 people perished,
11 in Greensburg. Over 90 percent of the town of Greensburg was
literally wiped off the face of the earth. Another round of
tornadoes occurred the following day across generally in the same
area. Nearly 250 pivot irrigation sprinklers were damaged or
destroyed during the 2 day outbreak. Due to the number of sprinklers
involved and the lack of replacements, some farmers would be out of
service for over 1 year.


May 5, 1917
The same storm which a day earlier produced eight inches of snow
in the Texas Panhandle, produced a foot of snow at Denver
Colorado, their heaviest snow of record for the month of May.


May 6, 1900
A tornado moved south, passing 5 miles west of Jetmore. This
tornado picked up a small home and smashed it to the ground,
killing a woman. Cattle were carried 200 yards. At least 15,
perhaps over 25, tornadoes touched down in Kansas this day which
the press called the day of the cyclones.
IN 1939...A tornado moved east-northeast from 10 miles southwest of
Jetmore. Barns were swept away. Damage was $10,000.
IN 1975...A massive tornado hit Omaha Nebraska killing three persons,
injuring 133 others, and causing 150 million dollars damage.
This was the most costly tornado in U.S. history at that time.


May 7, 1840
A powerful tornado wrecked many boats at the Natchez Landing in
Mississippi, then plowed through the city on the bluff. The
tornado killed 317 persons, and caused a million dollars damage.
The force of the storm caused houses to burst open. The tornado
was the most deadly and destructive in early American history.
IN 1927...Two massive tornadoes combined for a 95 mile path of destruction
through Comanche, Barber, Kingman, Reno, and McPherson Counties
in Kansas. The death toll was 10 and 300 were injured. Damage
was set at 1.3 million dollars. The tornado path width reached 2
miles at one point.
IN 1936...A tornado skipped east northeast from 5 miles southeast of Garden
City to near Kalvesta. One barn was destroyed.
IN 2002...A large tornado moved southeast across much of Pratt KS. There
were 14 homes destroyed, 15 with major damage and 230 with minor
damage. Despite the very heavy damage, there were no injuries.


May 8, 1874
A deadly hailstorm in South Carolina hit the town of
Winnsborough. The hailstones, measuring as much as nine inches
in circumference, killed several persons, and a great number of
sheep, lambs and birds.
IN 1981...The Dallas/Fort Worth TX area experienced its worst hailstorm of
record as baseball to grapefruit size hail, accompanied by 100
mph winds, caused nearly 200 million dollars damage. Hail
accumulated eight inches deep at Cedar Hill.
IN 1988...Thunderstorms in the Mississippi Valley spawned a total of 57
tornadoes, including 24 in Wisconsin, and a record 22 tornadoes
in one day in Iowa. Fortunately, not a single person was killed
in the Mother's Day tornado outbreak.
In 1965...a major tornado outbreak struck central and eastern Nebraska and
South Dakota. Four people were killed in Nebraska in an F4 tornado. An F5
tornado hit southern South Dakota. A late season snowstorm hit parts of
the Nebraska panhandle while the tornadoes were on the ground farther east.
Some places received as much as 4 inches of snow.


May 9, 1927
Poplar Bluff Missouri was devastated by a tornado. Ninety-eight people
were killed and 300 were injured. Thirty-one business and residential
blocks were destroyed in the city. Strong Arkansas was leveled
by a tornado with 24 people killed.
IN 1971...A tornado moved slowly east-northeast from 9 miles southwest to
10 miles north-northeast of Kinsley KS. A home was torn apart
and barns were destroyed.
IN 1996...In western Kansas hail and wind cut a path 2 miles wide along
highway 96 across all of Lane county. Hail was piled 6 inches
deep and was visible for several days. Property damage across
the county was more than 2.5 million dollars. Siding was
extensively damaged on many homes, roofs were damaged, and trees
had the bark stripped off. Eight power poles were broken along
highway 96.
IN 1996...In western Kansas, an 8 mile wide area of hail and wind moved
across Ness county along and near highway 96. Golf ball size
hail and 80 mph winds were produced by a vicious thunderstorm
that moved all the way from Scott county during the late evening
hours. Damage across the county topped 1 million dollars.


May 10, 1905
A deadly tornado struck the town of Snyder OK killing 87
persons. The tornado leveled 100 homes in Snyder, and destroyed
many others. The large and violent tornado killed a total of 97
persons along its 40 mile path across southwestern Oklahoma.
The roar of the tornado could reportedly be heard up to twelve
miles away.
IN 1942...A tornado skipped east northeast from 6 miles north of Sublette
to northeast of Dodge City. What was probably a small tornado
destroyed barns and damaged homes on at least eight farms. The
two mile long section of the track at the northwest edge of Dodge
City was the most damaging. The north wing of a building at
Saint Mary's of the Plains Academy, 2 miles northeast of Dodge
City, was destroyed, and several other buildings were unroofed.
Damage was $80,000.


May 11, 1953
A tornado hit Waco TX killing 114 persons and burying some
downtown streets under five feet of fallen bricks.
IN 1970...A very powerful tornado struck the city of Lubbock Texas killing
26 persons, injuring more than 500 others, and causing 135
million dollars damage. It was the most destructive tornado of
record up until that time. A second tornado killed two other
persons in Lubbock, and the two tornadoes damaged or destroyed
nearly a quarter of the city.


May 12, 1934
A dust storm darkened skies from Oklahoma to the Atlantic Coast.
IN 1972...A cloudburst dumped 16 inches of rain north of New Braunfels TX
sending a thirty foot wall of water down Blueders Creek into the
Comal and Guadalupe Rivers washing away people, houses and
automobiles. The flood claimed 18 lives and caused more than
twenty million dollars damage.


May 13, 1966
The low of 25 degrees established the record low for the month
of May at Garden City.
IN 1981...A tornado 450 yards in width destroyed ninety percent of Emberson
Texas. People did not see a tornado, but rather a wall of
debris. Homes were leveled, a man in a bathtub was hurled a
quarter of a mile, and a 1500 pound recreational vehicle was
hurled 500 yards. Miraculously no deaths occurred in the
tornado.


May 14, 1898
A severe thunderstorm, with some hailstones up to 9.5 inches in
circumference, pounded a four mile wide path across Kansas City
Missouri. South facing windows were broken in nearly every house
in the central and eastern parts of the city, and several persons
were injured.
IN 1953...The low of 28 degrees established the record low for the month
of May at Liberal.


May 15, 1949
A violent tornado moved through Amarillo TX. The tornado
tracked through the Amarillo airport and damaged or destroyed 45
aircraft. 7 people were killed and 82 were injured. Damage was
set at 4.8 million dollars.
IN 1991...There were 16 tornadoes on the ground for short periods of time,
all within 10 miles of Garden City. No damage was reported.
In west central Kansas five small tornadoes formed in Wichita
and western Scott counties within a few minutes of each other.
These tornadoes were fairly weak.
IN 1995...Strong to severe thunderstorms moved across southwest Kansas
during the evening hours. A tornado developed near Charleston
with three minor injuries reported when a modular home was
destroyed. There was other damage to several barns, sheds,
implements, trees, fences, and five pivot sprinklers. About
5 miles north of Charleston and Ingalls strong thunderstorm
winds gusting to over 100 mph snapped off 150 power poles and 40
pivot sprinklers were damaged or destroyed, along with trees and
fences.


May 16, 1874
The Mill Creek disaster occurred west of Northhampton MA. Dam
slippage resulted in a flash flood which claimed 143 lives, and
caused a million dollars property damage.
IN 1991...A tornado moved northeast from the southwest corner of Hodgeman
county, 23 miles southwest of Jetmore. This large tornado did
considerable damage to two farmsteads. A garage, a barn, a shed
and two abandoned farm houses were completely destroyed. A
total of two people were injured.


May 17, 1896
A tornado tracked 100 miles through Northeastern Kansas and
extreme Southeastern Nebraska. Seneca, Oneida, Sabetha, and
Reserve KS sustained severe damage. While passing through
Reserve the tornado was 2 miles wide. 25 were killed and 200
were injured.


May 18, 1902
A tornado struck the town of Goliad Texas killing 114 people. No
US tornado disaster of similar magnitude has ever occurred
farther south than this event.
IN 1980...In the state of Washington, Mount Saint Helens erupted spewing
ash and smoke sixty three thousand feet into the air. Heavy ash
covered the ground to the immediate northwest, and small
particles were carried to the Atlantic Coast.
IN 2013...An EF4 tornado in Pawnee county near Rozel did damage to a
home along U.S. Highway 156. The roof and walls were blown away of
this well constructed house. There were 2 people inside who escaped
injury when they took shelter. Several large tanks were carried a long
distance. The Doppler on Wheels that was observing the tornado had near
surface measured wind speeds of 165 to 185 mph.


May 19, 1990
Thunderstorms deluged Hot Springs Arkansas with thirteen inches of rain
in nine hours resulting in a devastating flood. Two waves of water,
four to six feet deep, swept down Central Avenue flooding stores and the
famous bathhouses on Bathhouse Row. Water released from Lake Hamilton
devastated the area between it and Remmel Dam. The 500 foot Carpenter
Dam Bridge across Lake Catherine was completely washed away, as were
cabins and mobile homes near the lake, many of which flowed right over
the top of the Remmel Dam.


May 20, 1903
In Southwest Kansas, a tornado moved northeast, then east at
Ashland and near Lexington. About 55 homes were damaged at
Ashland. Barns were destroyed on two farms that were struck.
IN 1916...A tornado struck the town of Codell, KS. Another tornado struck
the town the next year, and a third tornado hit again the
following year.
IN 1918...In western Kansas a large tornado moved northeast from 10 miles
southeast of Wakeeney. Over 200 head of cattle were killed and
many others were injured. Farm machinery was carried
considerable distances, and many farm buildings were swept away.
Damage was $100,000.
IN 1949...Eight or more tornadoes were involved along an 85 mile long track
across the counties of Gray, Ford, Hodgeman and Pawnee.
Newspapers in the area used headlines such as Tornado army
attacks Kansas to describe the record breaking number of
tornadoes, at least 40 that hit the central and western part of
the state. No people were killed, but hundreds of animals were.
Four funnels were seen moving northeast about 6 miles northwest
of Dodge City. A tornado moved northeast from 7 miles southwest of Coldwater
KS, just missing that town, and ending at Wilmore. The "huge
rotating column" sent the entire town of Coldwater running to
storm cellars. Most of the $200,000 damage was at Wilmore, as
the entire town was torn apart.
IN 1951...A tornado moved east-northeast near Scott City KS. A large barn
was destroyed south of Scott City. The tornado struck five
farms.
IN 1957...A tornado touched down to the southwest of Kansas City and
traveled a distance of 71 miles cutting a swath of near total
destruction through the southeastern suburbs of Ruskin Heights
and Hickman Mills. The tornado claimed the lives of 45 persons,
and left hundreds homeless. It was the worst weather disaster
of record for Kansas City.


May 21, 1903
A tornado moved north from 15 miles southwest of Dodge City,
lifting 12 miles west of town. Homes and barns were destroyed.
Eight people were injured.
IN 1991...Stationary thunderstorms dumped 8 inches of rain in 6 hours on
Liberal Kansas, causing the worst flood in 45 years. More than
35 homes were damaged and many people had to be temporarily
relocated. The Red Cross provided assistance and some residents
could only be reached by boat. Special pumping equipment was
brought in to remove the water. Fish, mostly catfish, were being
caught in the streets. The flood waters remained until 1 pm on
the 23rd.


May 22, 1903
A tornado moved north-northeast from 3 miles north of the Ford
county line, passing 2 miles west of Dodge City. A dozen barns
and four homes were destroyed on at least 10 farms.
A tornado moved north-northeast, passing 15 miles west of
Kinsley KS. A woman was killed when her home, probably in
Hodgeman county, was picked up, then "dashed to the ground into
kindling." The tornado was reportedly seen to "bounce" over the
prairie. Over 200 cattle were killed by tornadoes this day.
IN 1933...A tornado moved north northeast from 7 miles south southwest of
Liberal Kansas, through the city. This tornado also struck in
the total darkness of a depression era dust storm. It masked
this entire western Kansas outbreak. It destroyed the business
district and the northwest residential area. At least 165 homes
and 44 businesses were badly damaged or destroyed. Four people were
killed and 150 injured. Damage was $750,000.
IN 1951...Heavy rains produced one of the worst flood disasters during the
early morning hours in Hays Kansas. Six people were killed.
Heavy rains fell earlier in the month and this also contributed
to the flooding. 1951 ended up as the wettest year for Hays
with 43.34 inches of precipitation recorded. For May and June,
20.42 inches of rain was recorded at the Kansas State University
Agricultural Research Center just south of Hays.
IN 1987...A powerful tornado virtually wiped the small southwest Texas
community of Saragosa off the map. The twister destroyed 85
percent of the structures in the town killing 35 persons and
injuring 121 others in the town. The tornado hurled trucks and
autos through adobe and wood-frame homes, with some vehicles
blown 500 feet.
IN 1993...Two to four inches of rain was reported in the Garden City area.
Some streets and intersections in the Garden City area were
flooded.
IN 1995...Strong to severe thunderstorms moved across southwest Kansas
during the late afternoon and evening hours. Hail the size of
cantaloupes were reported in Preston, 7 miles northeast of
Pratt. In Kinsley, hail smashed numerous building and vehicle
windows. A hospital had to be evacuated when broken windows
allowed heavy rain to flood the facilities. In Stafford county,
Rattlsnake Creek was flooding from torrential rain of up to 11
inches.

May 23, 1953
The temperature at Hollis Oklahoma soared from a morning low of 70
degrees to an afternoon high of 110 degrees to establish a state
record for the month of May.


May 24, 1930
A tornado touched down near the town of Pratt KS and traveled at
the incredibly slow speed of just 5 mph.
IN 1990...Four tornadoes carved a 109 mile path across central Kansas. The
third of the four tornadoes blew 88 cars of a 125 car train off
the track, stacking them three to four cars high in some cases.
It also injured six persons who were trying to escape in
vehicles. A woman was sucked out of a truck and said that at one
time she was airborne, trying to run but her feet wouldn't touch
the ground. She also saw a live deer flying through the air.
IN 1991...Gusty thunderstorm winds damaged some trees and hail dented cars
in Cimarron KS.


May 25, 1955
Two tornadoes struck the town of Blackwell Oklahoma within a few
minutes time during the late evening. The tornadoes killed 18
persons and injured more than 500 others. Early the next morning
a tornado virtually obliterated the small community of Udall
Kansas killing 80 persons and injuring 270 persons. More than
half the persons in the community were killed or injured by the
tornado.
IN 2012...Nine tornadoes did damage in Rush County. A satellite
tornado moved through La Crosse and did extensive damage to trees
and some buildings. There were three campers that were completely
destroyed. There were no injuries or fatalities.


May 26, 1917
A tornado touched down near Louisiana MO about noon and remained
on the ground for a distance of 293 miles, finally lifting seven
hours and twenty minutes later in eastern Jenning County IN.
The twister cut a swath of destruction two and a half miles wide
through Mattoon IL. There were 101 persons killed in the
tornado, including 53 at Mattoon, and 38 at Charleston IL.
IN 1954...A tornado moved southeast on the north side of Syracuse KS. Two
homes were unroofed, and a second story was sheared off on
another home. A total of 19 homes were damaged.
IN 1984...Thunderstorms during the late evening and early morning hours
produced 6 to 13 inches of rain at Tulsa OK in six hours.
Flooding claimed 14 lives and caused 90 million dollars property
damage. 4600 cars, 743 houses, and 387 apartments were destroyed
or severely damaged in the flood.
IN 1996...Severe weather developed across southwest Kansas during the
afternoon hours. In Stevens and Seward counties, a tornado did
some damage to trees, grain bins, irrigation sprinklers and a
few farm buildings. A tornado traveled from 11 miles north of Liberal
to 6 miles south of Sublette. Along the way, 2 irrigation sprinklers
were destroyed, fertilizer tanks were carried over 1 mile, 2 houses
were damaged, a fence was destroyed, trees were uprooted, hay
bales were tossed, a 30 foot radio tower was blown down, wheat
plants were pulled up, farm buildings were heavily damaged and
flood irriagation pipe were scattered about.
A thunderstorm that produced a tornado in Seward and Haskell
counties, spun up an even bigger tornado farther into Haskell
and Gray counties. The tornado took a few trees in Haskell
county. In Gray county, 34 irrigation sprinkler systems were
damaged or destroyed, power poles were snapped, 2 houses were
damaged, a barn was destroyed, a truck was overturned and flood
irrigation pipe were tossed like match sticks. In fact, one
witness reported the 30 foot pieces of pipe were 4 or 5 hundred
feet in the air. In addition, 3 inch high corn plants were
completely removed leaving the field bare. Several people video
taping the tornado were chased by the tornado, only to take
shelter under a bridge. The tornado passed about 1/2 mile east
of them while they watched 5 inch diameter hail pound the
ground.


May 27, 1896
A massive tornado struck St Louis MO killing 306 persons and
causing thirteen million dollars damge. The tornado path was
short, but cut across a densely populated area. The tornado was
the most destructive of record in the U.S. up until that time.
It pierced a five-eighths inch thick iron sheet with a two by
four inch pine plank.
IN 1997...A tornado devastated the small town of Jarrell TX killing 27
people. Nearly 300 head of cattle were killed with many of them
tossed for over a quarter of a mile.
IN 2001...The first of three hail storms in a six day period hit Dodge
City. Severe weather also occurred across Southwestern Kansas
with several reports of 80 to 100 mph winds. 270 pivot
irrigation sprinklers were damaged or destroyed across
southwestern Kansas. In addition, hail storms moved through
Dodge City on the 29th and the 1st of June. All three storms
produced at least golf ball sized hail resulting in lots of roof
damage.


May 28, 1987
Thunderstorms produced torrential rains in Oklahoma and northern
Texas. Lake Altus OK was deluged with nine inches of rain. Up to
eight inches drenched northern Texas, and baseball size hail was
reported north of Seminole and at Knickerbocker. Ten to 13 inch
rains soaked central Oklahoma the last five days of May resulting
in an estimated 65 million dollars damage, and forcing several
thousand persons to evacuate their homes, many by boat or helicopter.


May 29, 1951
A massive hailstorm struck from Wallace to Kearny Counties in
Kansas, causing $6 million worth of damage to crops.
IN 1997
A rainstorm dumped 1.66 inches of rain over a 45 minute time span
in Dodge City. A young boy wound up in the drainage ditch in the
13 hundred block of 10th Avenue and floated down to West Park
Street before he was pulled out by Ford County and Dodge City
firefighters. Also, four cars and a truck got tangled up
together at the mouth of the drainage located at the corner of
Third avenue and Vine Street.
IN 2011...The high of 106 degrees established the record high for
the month of May at Dodge City.


May 30, 1879
A major outbreak of severe weather occurred in Kansas and
western Missouri. In Kansas, tornadoes killed 18 persons at
Delphos, and 30 persons at Irving. Two tornadoes struck the
town of Irving within a few minutes time virtually wiping the
small Kansas community off the map.
IN 1978...A tornado skipped east-southeast from 5 miles northwest of
Garden City to 12 miles northwest of Dodge City. This tornado
damaged homes, outbuildings and irrigation systems on 15 farms.
IN 1990...Thunderstorms produced heavy rain in southwestern Kansas in the
late afternoon and again around midnight. The result was a total
of 6 inches of rain from Garden City to Ford to Kinsley.


May 31, 1889
The Johnstown disaster occurred, the worst flood tragedy in U.S.
history. Heavy rains collapsed the South Fork Dam sending a
thirty foot wall of water rushing down the already flooded
Conemaugh Valley. The wall of water, traveling as fast as 22
feet per second, swept away all structures, objects and people.
2100 persons perished in the flood.
IN 1941...Thunderstorms deluged Burlington KS with 12.59 inches of rain to
establish a 24 hour rainfall record for the state.

 

Return to Weather Trivia