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Tornado History - Historical Tornado Photos

 Courtesy NOAA/Department of Commerce To the left is a drawing by Benjamin Franklin and his understanding of water spouts. Benjamin Franklin was a student of severe weather and theorized about how storms formed. Representation of waterspout accompanying "Water-spouts and Whirlwinds" by Benjamin Franklin. This paper was republished in "The complete works in philosophy, politics, and morals, of the late Dr. Benjamin Franklin ....", 1806. Volume II, p. 26. Library Call Number PS745 .A2 1806.  Image ID: wea00342, Historic NWS Collection
Courtesy NOAA/Department of Commerce Exploring the upper air with a weather box - Kite released at Drexel Aerological Station Continuously read temperature, wind velocity, pressure, altitude, and time In: "The Boy with the U.S. Weather Men", 1917, p. 172.
Image ID:
wea01101, Historic NWS Collection
Location: Drexel, Nebraska
Photo Date: 1915?
Courtesy NOAA/Department of Commerce Weather kites were used to bring recording instruments to high levels Temperature, pressure, humidity and winds were observed from kites. 

Image ID: wea01100, Historic NWS Collection
Location: Fort Whipple (Fort Myers), Arlington, Virginia
Photo Date: 1894?

Courtesy NOAA/Department of Commerce Launching a pilot balloon Women's first opportunities in meteorology occurred as a result of WWII

Image ID: wea01117, Historic NWS Collection
Photo Date: Ca. 1944

Courtesy NOAA/Department of Commerce Talk about a scary looking sight. If you ever see something like this heading your way you had better get below ground in a storm shelter or basement. This tornado had an incredibly wide debris field. Remember to have a severe weather safety plan in place.

From Historic NWS Collection. A massive tornado
Image ID: wea00216,

Courtesy NOAA/Department of Commerce An area I have chased in many times is Manhattan, Kansas. This was a very ominous site to the local residents in 1949. Hopefully everyone made it to safe shelter before it hit. A narrow tornado does not mean it is weaker. It may have a smaller surface area in contact with the ground, but the wind speeds could still be very deadly.
Tornado at Manhattan, Kansas
Image ID: wea00214, Historic NWS Collection
Photo Date: 1949 May 31
Courtesy NOAA/Department of Commerce
Deadly Twin Tornadoes
Rare Twin Tornado Pic.
Two major tornado outbreaks have taken place on Palm Sundays.  Palm Sunday outbreak II happened on March 27th 1994 while this incredible twin tornadoes photo was during the Palm Sunday outbreak in 1965. Indiana and was one of six Midwest states to be raked by deadly tornadoes. In all, 47 tornadoes killed 271 people and injured over 1,500. This is a rare twin large tornado photo taken by Paul Huffman.  
Image ID:
wea00217, Historic NWS Collection
Location: Elkhart, Indiana
Photo Date: 1965 April 11
Photographer: Mr. Paul Huffman
Courtesy NOAA/Department of Commerce An eerie looking tornado this photo entitled "A funnel within a funnel". You can chase and photograph tornadoes your whole life and never see all the variations possible.  Each year, each chase brings a  new look, a new tornado unique to itself, just adding to the wonder of these spinning demons.
Image ID: wea00218, Historic NWS Collection
Location: Near Jasper, Minnesota
Photo Date: 1927 July 8
Courtesy NOAA/Department of Commerce Most storm chasers would love to see one of these, a waterspout. Similar to its cousin the tornado, waterspouts can move onto land and become a tornado, but usually die off quickly when coming ashore and do little damage.
Multiple waterspouts off the Bahamas Islands
Image ID: wea00313, Historic NWS Collection
Location: Bahamas Islands
Photographer: Dr. Joseph Golden, NOAA
Courtesy NOAA/Department of Commerce Huge waterspout observed from aircraft accompanying North Atlantic convoy during WWII. In: "Wenn die Elemente wuten" by Frank W. Lane. P. 49. Library Call Number M15 L265eg 1948. Image ID: wea00344, Historic NWS Collection
Photographer: Archival Photograph by Mr. Steve Nicklas, NOS, NGS
Credit: Royal Air Force Photograph

Courtesy NOAA/Department of Commerce

Chasing tornadoes in the flat plains of the united states makes it easy to spot and photograph tornadoes. The wide open spaces leaves little to interfere with your view and allows fantastic photos like this one titled "Tornado in farm country ".
Image ID: wea00213
Historic NWS Collection
Courtesy NOAA/Department of Commerce Tornado at Lebanon, Kansas, from the collection of S. D. Flora. In: 'Monthly Weather Review," July 1919, p. 448.

Image ID: wea00246, Historic NWS Collection
Location: Lebanon, Kansas
Photo Date: 1913 October 09

Courtesy NOAA/Department of Commerce  NOAA Photo Library, NOAA Central Library; OAR/ERL/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) "Rope" or decay stage of tornado. During "Sound Chase", a joint project of NSSL and Mississippi State University.  Image ID: nssl0056, National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) Collection  Location: Cordell, Oklahoma
Photo Date: May 22, 1981

CREDIT:"Tornado, Lebanon, Kansas." Copyright 1902. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

This photo taken in Lebanon Kansas in 1902

Photo from Copyright 1902. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.  home of Tornado Tim