3 Worst Tornadoes of All Time That Hit Texas

A tornado is a passage of air that breaks away from a thunderstorm and spins before hitting the ground. It’s hard to tell if dust, dirt, and water droplets form a condensation funnel. Storms in the atmosphere can be destructive, especially tornadoes.

They can cause ruin and fear. The USA has the most tornadoes in the world. About 1,200 tornadoes occur annually in the US. Because Texas is in Tornado Alley, what harm has been done? You’ll see its destructive power and some of Texas’ worst tornadoes.

Tornado Lubbock

After nightfall, a strong multiple-vortex tornado slammed Lubbock, Texas, on May 11, 1970. At least 26 individuals died and $135 million was damaged. It damaged almost 9,000 homes, businesses, high-rises, and public infrastructure. According to researcher Thomas P. Grazulis, meteorologist Ted Fujita examined the tornado’s damage in “the most detailed mapping of a single tornado’s path ever done up to that point.”

3 Worst Tornadoes of All Time That Hit Texas

Fujita’s 1971 tornado rating scale, named after him, rated the worst damage as F5. The damage was severe, and moving large objects as pictured required a lot of force. The tornado’s vortices may have generated 290 mph winds. Lubbock had a clear, dry, and sunny sky on May 11, but a dry line heading west brought damp air into West Texas.

Thus, thunderstorms were possible. Storms hit Lubbock around 6:30 PM. At least two tornadoes formed before the F5 tornado, one of which crossed eastern Lubbock. The main F5 tornado slammed southwestern Lubbock around 9:35 PM. Within 30 minutes, it devastated a fourth of the city in an 8.5-mile (13.7 km) course. The event finished at 10 PM near Lubbock Municipal Airport.

The tornado grew and shrank. It was 1.5 mi (2.4 km) broad when it impacted the earth, but 0.25 mi (0.40 km) wide when it lifted. Downtown Lubbock structures like the 20-story Great Plains Life Building were severely damaged. The tornado briefly headed west and devastated Texas Tech University before turning north.

The tornado struck hardest in Guadalupe and near the Lubbock County Club. Many residences were destroyed or too damaged to repair. The Lubbock airport, where the Weather Bureau was based, destroyed 119 planes.

G-W-W tornadoes

The Glazier-Higgins-Woodward tornadoes hit Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas on April 9, 1947. The same supercell caused them. The Glazier-Higgins-Woodward Tornado, which traveled over 125 miles from Texas to Oklahoma, is still blamed for most of the damage and all of the deaths.

This incident was often compared to the Tri-State Tornado due to its 219-mile route. It was one of eight or nine tornadoes, now considered to be related. The outbreak began with an F2 tornado in White Deer, Texas. That tornado bent a train, destroyed sheds, and damaged homes. Three persons were hurt by this tornado.

3 Worst Tornadoes of All Time That Hit Texas

Farmhouses were lifted and lowered. After the tornado at White Deer, another tornado arrived near Pampa, hovered over fields, then went safely. The third tornado started near Canada and reached Miami. This monster F5 storm with several tornadoes killed humans.

A train station near Codman killed one person and threw work cars off the tracks. The tornado barely damaged some fields, but the middle trees lost their bark. It may have impacted Glazier 2 miles wide. Nearly all town buildings were destroyed. Vehicles were hurled hundreds of yards and destroyed, while bushes lost their bark.

Glazier saw 17 deaths. Two Glazier residents were found three miles apart after the tornado. The Texas-Oklahoma border town of Higgins was also destroyed. Again, numerous town residents died or were injured. Rows of Higgins homes were wiped away. A 4.5-ton lathe was reportedly wrenched from its anchors and split in half. Total damage was estimated at $170,000,000 (2008 USD).

Goliad tornado

Goliad, Texas, was hit by an F4 tornado on May 18, 1902. There were 114 deaths, 250 injuries, and $125,000 in property damage. It’s worth $3.4 million after inflation. May 17–19 saw thunderstorms from the lower Missouri Valley to Texas. At 12:15 PM on August 18, the Galveston weather office warned of “squalls, with brisk and occasionally high winds, are indicated for the west gulf this afternoon and tonight”.

3 Worst Tornadoes of All Time That Hit Texas

Beeville, 30 miles southwest of Goliad, was badly damaged by afternoon winds. After making its first touchdown near Berclair, 15 miles southwest of Goliad, the tornado turned northeast. The tornado crossed the San Antonio River on the south side at 3:35 PM. As it headed northeast, it wrecked the steel bridge across the river at San Patricio Street.

About 50 individuals died when the tornado demolished the Fannin Street Methodist Church near Mt. Auburn Street. Then the brick factory was devastated. It sounded like a “million-ton [train] engine,” said witness Browne. The tornado destroyed more homes, shops, and churches as it proceeded up the west side of town, two blocks wide.

The tornado was about a mile long and 1/8 to 1/2 mile broad. Reports say the tornado lasted 5 minutes. At least 85 people died within hours, and 29 more within days. A Baptist church and parsonage, a black Methodist church, a white Methodist church, and the county courthouse’s second floor were among the 150 residences and 100 businesses destroyed in the city. At least 50 people in the black church died.

After his wife was injured and his daughter escaped the tornado funnel, young doctor Dr. Louis Warren Chilton opened a temporary hospital and morgue on the county courthouse’s first floor. Construction on the Dr. L.W. and Martha E.S. Chilton House, which included an underground bunker, began in June. Lott Cemetery’s eastern perimeter has many mass burials after the tornado.


Tornadoes, powerful and unpredictable, have left a destructive mark on Texas, particularly in incidents like the Lubbock tornado of 1970 and the Glazier-Higgins-Woodward tornadoes of 1947. The Goliad tornado in 1902 stands as a tragic historical event, showcasing the devastating impact of these natural disasters on communities, with significant loss of life and property damage.


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