Remembering one of the worst tornado outbreaks in East Texas

By Grant Dade - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV)  Sunday will mark the 22nd anniversary of one of the biggest tornado outbreaks in the History of East Texas.  On this day, four long track F3 tornadoes moved across parts of East Texas and a total of 50 tornadoes occurred over a 48 hour period from the Southern Plains to the Southeast United States.  One of the most noted tornadoes was the F3 that caused considerable damage to Palestine in Anderson County.  This tornado was on the ground for 11 miles and unfortunately claimed one life and injured 59 other people.

The most tragic tornado of the day tracked through Cherokee and Smith counties through Jacksonville, Mixon, and Whitehouse.  This tornado was on the ground for 33 miles, claimed 4 lives, and injured an additional 81 people.  Based on times and tracks , this tornado appears to be the second tornado in East Texas and fourth overall produced by a single supercell thunderstorm that developed along a dryline in Central Texas.  This storm appears to have gone on to produce a total of eleven tornadoes including another F3 tornado in Cass County near Marietta, making a total of four F3 tornadoes from a single thunderstorm.

Later, in the early evening hours, another supercell developed near Lufkin and moved to the northeast.  This storm would go on to produce a long track F3 tornado near Center in Shelby County and continue northeast through southeastern Panola County into Louisiana.  Thankfully this tornado caused no deaths in East Texas but it did injure 15 people.

Unfortunately since this event happened before the internet age, there is very little information.  A matter of fact, this may be one of the largest tornado outbreaks with very little research or information available.  I would like to change that.  Over the next few weeks I plan on researching this event to find out as much information as possible.  For one thunderstorm to produce eleven tornadoes is a very unusual and extreme event.  If you have any images or stories of this event you would like to share, please email them to me.  With your help, we can learn more about the environment that lead to such a tragic event.

©2009 KLTV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.