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May 1957 Central Plains tornado outbreak sequence


Dec 15, 2021

The May 1957 Central Plains tornado outbreak sequence was a tornado outbreak sequence that took place across the US Central Plains from May 19 to May 21, 1957.[nb 1][nb 2] The most destructive tornado of the outbreak was rated at F5, the highest level, and is often called the Ruskin Heights tornado. The worst of the damage occurred in Ruskin Heights, a suburb and housing development south of Kansas City, Missouri. A total of 57 tornadoes were reported from Colorado to the Mississippi Valley and 59 people were killed during the outbreak, including 44 in the Ruskin Heights tornado.

Outbreak death toll
State Total County County
Kansas 7 Franklin 3
Miami 4
Missouri 52 Carter 7
Jackson 37
St. Francois 8
Totals 59
All deaths were tornado-related
May 1957 Central Plains tornado outbreak

Map of tornadoes on May 21, 1957.
Type Tornado outbreak
Duration May 19–21, 1957
57 confirmed
Max. rating1 F5 tornado
Duration of
tornado outbreak2
~54 hours
Fatalities 59 fatalities; 341 injuries
Damage Not available
Areas affected Great Plains, Midwestern United States

1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale
2Time from first tornado to last tornado

. . . May 1957 Central Plains tornado outbreak sequence . . .

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
FU F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
0 12 14 20 7 3 1 57
The F5 Ruskin Heights tornado near Spring Hill, Kansas.
List of confirmed tornadoes
Time (UTC)
Path length
F1 ESE of West Park Fresno CA 1622 0.1 mile
F1 NW of Bayard Scotts Bluff NE 0130 1.7 miles
(2.7 km)
A home was pushed off of its foundation and had its roof torn off. Outbuildings were destroyed as well.[2]
F2 N of Northport Scotts Bluff NE 0330 5.1 miles
(8.2 km)
Low-end F2 tornado destroyed two outbuildings and partially unroofed a farmhouse. The tornado was not listed as significant by Grazulis.[2]
F1 W of Gurley Cheyenne NE 0400 2 miles
(3.2 km)
Source: Tornado History Project – May 19, 1957 Storm Data

. . . May 1957 Central Plains tornado outbreak sequence . . .

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. . . May 1957 Central Plains tornado outbreak sequence . . .