Tornadoes in the Past

On this page, we list the killer tornadoes during 1997. If you want to read descriptions of the killer tornadoes of 1996, you will find them here. If you want to read descriptions of the killer tornadoes of 1995 and 1896, you will find them here.

The format of descriptions below list the date, time of day, and Fujita Scale Intensity Rating

January 24, 1997 5:00 PM F2
Tuscaloosa, Alabama A 71-year-old retired physician was killed when a tree limb was propelled into the windshield of his pick-up truck. Fifteen homes were destroyed and 100 more damaged in town. At least 10 people were injured.

February 20, 1997 8:05 PM F1
Booneville, Arkansas One person was killed in a mobile home.

March 1, 1997 1:03 AM F1
A 50-year-old man was killed when a tornado destroyed his mobile home at Randolph, Pontotoc County, Mississippi. He was thrown 75 feet from his home. A more detailed description of the storm can be found here.

March 1, 1997 2:46 PM F4
This tornado touched down about two miles northeast of Hope in Hempstead County, at 1:50 PM. About 50 minutes later it ripped apart 60 city blocks of Arkadelphia, killing 6 people and injuring 100. Fifty-six out of 57 mobile homes were destroyed in one trailer park. About 250 homes, 90 mobile homes, and 45 businesses were damaged or destroyed. The funnel lifted 4 miles northeast of Malvern. The total path length was 67 miles.

March 1, 1997 3:35 PM F2
This tornado touched down 10 miles northeast of Searcy in White County, and moved northeast, passing 3 miles south of Denmark and 3 miles west of Newport. The funnel crossed the White River and passed through Jacksonport, where it was a half-mile wide and did F2 damage. It lifted 5 miles east of Tuckerman. South of Denmark, in Jackson County, it killed two men at Velvet Ridge. They fled their mobile home and crawled into a narrow, muddy ditch for shelter. They were crushed to death when the tornado blew a 100-year-old oak tree into the ditch. Other people also fled their mobile homes to hide in ditches, and survived. Another person died in a mobile home near Jacksonport. About 60 people were injured in Jackson County.

March 1, 1997 3:25 PM F4
This tornado touched down 3 miles southeast of Benton in Saline County, fifteen minutes after the previous tornado lifted. The funnel moved northeast, devastating the towns of Sardis and Shannon Hills. A total of 10 people died in Saline County and 200 were injured. About 200 residences were damaged or destroyed. The tornado was nearly a mile wide and F4 intensity as it passed across Shannon Hills.
It entered Pulaski County and continued northeast, where it did F3 damage at College Station, just 3 miles southeast of downtown Little Rock. Six people died in this area. Across Pulaski County, 180 people were injured, 90 homes destroyed, and 175 homes damaged.

March 1, 1997 5:05 PM F3
A tornado tore "a near perfect line, 100 yards wide and a mile long" from southwest to northeast across Marmaduke, Arkansas. Eleven homes were destroyed, and 57 others were damaged. A 47-year-old man was killed. A detailed description of the tornado can be found here, and photos of the damage in Marmaduke can be seen here.

March 1, 1997 7:20 PM F4
A 13-year-old girl was killed as she sought cover in one of 25 homes that were destroyed in the the Lake Luanna community between Dyersburg and Newbern, Tennessee. About 20 people were injured. A more detailed description can be see here.
More information on the March 1, 1997 tornadoes can be found at the Southern Region National Weather Service site. Links to individual pages on their sites are listed below.

March 28, 1997 6:04 PM F3
One man was killed and five other people were injured in Hammonville, Kentucky by one of at least three confirmed tornadoes that struck in Hart, Metcalfe, and Greene counties. Twenty two homes were damaged or destroyed in Hammonville, and 11 homes were damaged in Bonnieville.

March 28, 1997 8:15 PM F2
A person was killed in a tornado that occurred one mile west of Summer Shade Kentucky.

April 10, 1997 8:45 PM F1
Small tornadoes touched down and numerous funnel clouds were sighted in Lubbock, Crosby, Hale, Swisher, Lynn, Dawson, Lamb, Garza and Dickens Counties in the Texas Panhandle. Some homes and communities suffered wind damage, and houses and cars were damaged by hail. A Crosby County man was killed when his double-wide mobile home near White River Lake was "twisted" and torn apart, with him inside. As authorities attempted to extricate him from the wreckage, they were pelted with base-ball sized hail. His wife was badly cut up.

May 2, 1997 5:50 PM
Tornadoes touched down in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia on Friday, May 2, 1997. One killed a nine-year-old girl and injured three other people when it struck a mobile home park 6 miles south-southwest of Chickamauga, Georgia. Her brother was one of the injured in the 90-home park.

May 27, 1997 2:50 PM F5
A devastating tornado touched down in Jarrell and killed 27 people in this small central Texas town. Although television stations scrolled tornado warnings 30 minutes in advance, and sirens went off, there were few places to go for safety. Most, if not all, homes were on slabs, with no basements to shelter in. Whole families died. Some meteorologists who have seen photos of the damage have said that they have never seen house foundations that were swept as clean. The death total was delayed several days because of the condition of the bodies, which were difficult to identify. This was one of the worst tornadoes in Texas in many, many years. A $20,000,000 damage total was estimated.

The newspapers in Texas have provided excellent coverage of the event. There was a massive loss of livestock, pets and other animals

The GOES-9 Infrared images can be seen on the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies at the University of Wisconsin page

And last but not least, the Austin/San Antonio National Weather Service Office also details the events of the day.

May 27, 1997 3:15 PM F3
One person was killed in Cedar Park, Texas.

May 27, 1997 3:50 PM
One person was killed in Lakeway, Texas.

July 2, 1997 3:10 PM
One person was killed in Flint, Michigan.

July 2, 1997 3:32 PM
The tornado that struck the Chateau Oak Hill Trailer Park near Holly in Oakland County, Michigan, was one of 16 reported that afternoon. It killed a 36-year-old woman in a trailer, and one other person. The whole metropolitan Detoit area was besieged by storms during the early evening, and the strong winds, lightning and flooding caused more destruction than any storm since the Palm Sunday storms in 1965. Complete coverage of the events can be found here.

July 2, 1997 5:00 PM
Five people were killed in Grosse Point Farms, Michigan.

September 18, 1997 5:15 PM
A series of at least five tornadoes swept through northeastern Minnesota this evening. The worst damage was in Little Falls, Hillman and Onamia. One person was killed in a building 6 miles east of Lastrup, Minnesota. Two men were injured in Hillman when their vehicle was lifted into the air, spun around, and dumped into the woods about 100 feet off the road.

November 21, 1997 PM
High winds, tornadoes, and heavy rain struck Louisiana and Mississippi on Friday, November 21. A tornado two block wide struck Lafayette, Louisiana and damaged 30-40 homes, but no one was injured. In Covington, Louisiana, 120 miles to the east of Lafayette, a backhoe was blown off the truck it was being carried on, and struck a car, killing one of its occupants. About 30 people were injured and 3000 homes and businesses lost power in the Covington area. An apartment complex was destroyed, and a dry cleaning business was lifted and dropped back down, skewed on its foundation. A tornado touched down at a trailer park south of Picayune, Mississippi, injuring one person. A tornado near Nicholson, Mississippi destroyed the Long Suffering Church, littering the lawn with chairs and Bibles.

Killer Tornadoes Elsewhere in the World

September 5, 1997
A thunderstorm in Ciudad Del Este, Paraguay, spawned a tornado that caused the collapse of a sports stadium roof. The roof, cement columns and a 50 meter stretch of wall underneath the bleachers gave way, killing 35 people and injuring 190 more. The metal roof decapitated some of the victims. Several children were trampled under foot by hundreds of people who fled in panic after the event occurred, shortly after midnight.

October 12, 1997
At least 15 and as many as 25 people were killed in Tongi, a town about 10-20 miles north of Dhaka in Bangladesh, when a tornado tore through the town. The World Congregation of Muslim Devotees was conducting a seminar on the banks of the Turag River, in a massive but frail tin-shed "pandal". The Dhaka paper reported that there were 80,000-100,000 people attending the seminar, but that it had just ended, and they were preparing to return to their homes. At least 1000, and as many as 5000 were injured--depending on whether you go by a government source or rescue workers at the scene. All the dead were clerics, many if not all quite elderly. The major cause of death was by flying debris, as corrugated iron roofing, bamboo stakes and other materials became airborn. Nine trucks full of dead or dying people were rushed to different hospitals. The Tongi Hospital was described as a "war clinic", with blood stained floors and corridors jammed with people wrapped in blankets, awaiting attention.

October 24, 1997
The Russian cutter "Frigate" was lost in the Azov Sea the night of October 24th. It had set out to test the vessel's seaworthiness after some repairs. A storm broke out, and the engine stopped. Local residents were eye-witnesses to the event. They reported seeing a waterspout form rapidly and strike the boat, overturning it. The 5 man crew radioed for help, but the rescuing ships were unable to tow the Frigate, and it went down into the stormy sea. Clothes and a life-jacket washed ashore, but the fate of the 5 men aboard is unknown. Residents of the Dolzhanskaya station asserted that a tornado had swept over the coast and swept away roofs and doors from dwellings.


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