"That Terrible Texas Weather" by Johnny Boggs
6/5/2013 by BY MARGARET BOGUE
?Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody can do anything about it.?
Recent tornadoes in Texas and Oklahoma remind us of the truth in that statement. Facts about Texas tornadoes: Texas has more tornadoes than any other state (mainly because of its size). More tornadoes occur in May than any other month.
This report deals with the two worst tornadoes in Texas history. Goliad was hit in May 1902. Waco was hit in May 1953. In each storm the death toll was 114, but because the Waco storm was more destructive it counts as number one.
When Sunday, May 18, 1902 dawned on Goliad nothing was unusual about the weather. By 3:00 p.m. heavy raindrop and hailstones fell with dangerous lightening and heavy thunder. Suddenly a noise like a heavy freight train could be heard in the distance. It rapidly increased in power and sound until it sounded like a million-ton engine. This tornado traveled about one mile along two blocks west of the courthouse. The winds reached 300 mph. In less than five minutes it was over. A space of 350 yards wide and a mile long was swept clean. Because Goliad was a small town, the 114 deaths were about 10% of the population. There were 230 injuries.
Fifty one years later the weather bureau issued a warning of violent storms from Wichita Falls to Waco to San Angelo. On May 11, 1953 at 2:15 p.m. a terrible twister hit San Angelo, killing eleven and injuring 159.
Waco residents felt safe because of the legend of the Waco Indians who believed the area would not be hit by violent storms because the Brazos River Valley provided protection. The Waco newspaper on May 11th reassured the residents that they were safe because the city was protected by hills. These two beliefs proved to be very wrong.
A giant funnel cloud moved into Waco from the south west at 4:40 p.m. with winds of 260 mph. Neighborhoods and downtown were destroyed. In that era buildings were constructed with the outside wall supporting the weight of the building. If one wall gave way, the floors collapsed. The 22-story Amicable Building made with brick walls and steel frames survived the storm. It swayed 10 inches, but held.
This tornado is ranked as Texas worst. It destroyed or damaged a path 23 miles long and up to one-third mile wide. Cost in lives ? 114 killed. Some bodies could be identified only by clothing or jewelry. People injured, 1,097. Property damaged or destroyed ? 850 homes, 19 buildings, 37 buildings declared unsafe. Total property damage ? 51 million dollars.
In May 2013 tornadoes killed six people in Grandbury, Texas, and 24 including 10 children in Moore, Oklahoma. Other tornados have hit Oklahoma since. At the time of writing this report 13 are known dead, and some are still missing.
Book of the Week ? @I@That Terrible Texas Weather by Johnny D. Boggs. This interesting book tells the story of the states natural disasters (hurricanes, tornadoes, drought, floods, record cold and heat.) through newspaper reports and eyewitness accounts at the time of the disaster.
The book is available at the library.