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

The strongest tornado of the April 2, 1982 tornado outbreak was an F5 that touched down just south of Speer in Choctaw County, OK.  It moved ESE near Messer and across the Hugo Reservoir.  It then moved 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.

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.  There was a new, small house near Messer that was completely swept away.  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)."

Max 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.

This image of the narrative was extracted from the historical 4/1982 Storm Data Publication.

Damage Photos from the Storm Data Publication 

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.