Choctaw/McCurtain County, OK F5 Tornado – April 2, 1982

SPC Stats:

Path length: 53 miles

Width:  500 yards

Fatalities:  0

Injuries:  29

Rating:  F5

County:  Choctaw, McCurtain

The strongest tornado of the April 2, 1982 tornado outbreak was rated F5  It developed just south of Speer in Choctaw County, OK.  It moved ESE near Messer and across the Hugo Reservoir.  It then traveled due east to just north of Valliant, south of Wright City and through Golden.  It continued through the southern parts of Broken Bow before dissipating 4 miles SE of Eagletown in McCurtain County.  

The path length was 53 miles.  The tornado max width was 1.5 miles (that was near Golden).  Per the NWS Norman, "The physical state of this tornado varied as it morphed between multiple vortex and solid funnel phases during its lifetime." There were 29 injuries and no fatalities reported.

Per the Storm Data Publication, a house was destroyed in the Messer area.  The carpet was pulled up by the twister.  All that remained on the slab was the carpet tack strips.   Based on this damage, the official rating was given as F5.  Thomas Grazulis lists a rating as F4 in Significant Tornadoes.  Grazulis states, "Officially, the NWS accepted an F5 rating for this single home destruction.  However, photographs of the empty foundation showed a rather poor anchoring technique.  F5 winds would probably not have been needed to sweep away this home (and possibly not even F4 winds)."

A 2x4 was driven through an Oak Tree.  The Tri-Night Motel sign in Broken Bow was found 30 miles away in Arkansas.  

In all, the following was destroyed:  30 to 40 houses, 30 to 40 larges barns, 10 to 15 large chicken houses (significant loss of poultry) 5 to 10 trailer houses, a motel, a lumber yard, a church, an airplane, farm equipment, vehicles, power lines, timber.  

Tornado Path

Click map to enlarge.

SPC coordinates:  Start: 34.13 / -95.57   End:  34.00 / -94.57      

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Damage Photos from the Storm Data Publication 

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the April 1982 Storm Data Publication and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:

Rating:

  • The official rating per SPC is F5.
  • Thomas Grazulis lists a rating as F4 in Significant Tornadoes.  See explanation in the main summary at the top of this article.  

Width:

  • All sources have a max width of 500 yards yet in all summaries I read (Storm Data & Grazulis), they mention a max width of 1.5 miles (2640 yards) near Golden.

Sources:

The Storm Prediction Center

NCDC Storm Events Database

4/1982 Storm Data Publication

F5 Tornadoes in Oklahoma per NWS Norman

newspapers.com

Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 1235.