Blackwell/Udall Tornadoes – 50 Years Later

On May 25 of this year, precisely half a century will have passed since the towns of Blackwell OK and Udall KS were slammed by two different F5 tornadoes from the same northward-moving supercell. [I know of only one other supercell which yielded back-to-back F5s: the Hesston/Goessel KS storm from 13 Mar 1990. The DePauw IN / Xenia OH supercell of 3 Apr 1974 has the overall record with three nonsequential F5s, interspersed with several F4s.]

According to Tom Grazulis, the F5s killed 100 people, 75 in Udall, twenty in Blackwell and five in Geuda Springs KS (the latter from the Udall tornado). It was the last 100-death tornadic supercell as of this writing.

Joel Genung has developed a fantastic and easy to navigate website in rememberance of the Blackwell tornado, with a potent personal account by a tornado survivor, Brenda Creamer, who was five at the time. Joel’s site is well worth some time from your day.

Another website worth some perusing is Matt Dennis’ Udall commemoration, still in progress. [The artificially blended tornado/lightning photo montage is not from Udall; but Matt does have some rare and interesting color damage photos scanned and online already.]


One Response to “Blackwell/Udall Tornadoes – 50 Years Later”

  1. Monty Hedrick on March 2nd, 2007 8:43 am

    I was in Blackwell at that time. It was quite impressive to a 6 year old. We where living in the northwest part of the city and missed the bad part but I can remember the aftermath very well. My folks and I went walking over on the east side a few days after and it was something I’ll not forget for a long time. The street was on the west side of the all the worst and as we walked I can remember looking on the east side and nothing much still standing, and on the west side not a window broken, except I can see one board in the soffit of one house. Now there might have been more but that’s all I can recall. One of the things I can remember was going to a man’s house that still had a windmill in town, and everyone queuing up for good water, as the town water was unsafe for some days. A few years later we moved to the southwest part of town just on the outskirts, and a kid I knew was walking along the river east of the house and finding walls of houses in the trees laying all over. Then it dawned on me what it was, all those homes that were blown away.

    You can’t go thru one of those things and not recall the damage. I’m surprised that after all these years to hear it was an F5 but it does explain the massive damage I saw. Trees stripped bare, nothing but floors of houses left. The one that stands in my mind was the north kitchen wall left and the cabinets opened with all the items showing and some things still on the counter like nothing wrong.

    Well that’s my thoughts hope it helps. Oh one thing else, the Civil Defense warning horns were the one thing that got your attention real quick, they never leave your mind, to this day it amazes me that the town had such a great system, must have saved many lives that night.

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