Today is the 33 anniversary of the F4 tornado that ripped a path of destruction through Wichita Falls, Texas on April 10, 1979. This was not the only tornado that day, as it was part of the Red River Valley tornado outbreak of 1979. The F4 that hit Wichita Falls was the largest and most powerful of the outbreak. This was a typical severe weather outbreak, as a low pressure was deepening in Colorado, lifting a warm front northward, and pushing a cold front into the area of instability. When the storms developed that rapidly moved from the southwest to the northeast.
In the mid-afternoon that day, several large, discrete supercells began to develop and rapidly developed tornadoes. The tornado that hit Wichita Falls was the third tornadic supercell that day. The supercell that produced the tornado was responsible for a family of tornadoes. This tornado was actually the second tornado spawned by that supercell and hit the city just after 6:00PM that evening. The storm was preceded by golf-ball and softball size hail across the city. As the thunderstorm approached the city there were reports of three separate funnel clouds that merged and formed the large tornado. The path of the twister brought it into the southwestern part of the city and continued its deadly and devastating track northeastward into the east side of the city. Many deaths happened on the local highways as many people were trying to outrun the tornado.
The aftermath of the tornado outbreak was devastating, 58 fatalities, 42 of them in Wichita Falls that day. Many apartment complexes, homes, restaurants, and even a shopping mall were destroyed. The tornado continues to be the 5th costliest tornado in United States history.
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