Frio County, TX F4 Tornado – April 15, 1973

SPC Stats:

Path length: 23.3 miles

Width:  440 yards

Fatalities:  5

Injuries:  12

Rating:  F4

County:  Frio

A tornado given a rating of F4 moved just over 23 miles eastward through parts of Frio County, TX on April 15, 1973.  It began about 8 miles west of the Frio Airport.  It moved across the airport and the Melon community passing 3 miles south of Pearsall.  It ended 15 miles due east of the airport.  There were 5 fatalities.  All were occupants of two cars traveling on Interstate 35 as the tornado crossed that area.  Injuries included 3 others in the cars and residents of homes.

8 homes were destroyed and several others were damaged.  Three airport hangars were damaged and 8-10 airplanes were destroyed.  122 other airplanes sustained damaged.  One-inch-thick asphalt topping ripped off one of the runways.  30 head of livestock lst and about 13,000 acres of crops destroyed.   

Tornado Path

Frio County, TX F4 Tornado – April 15, 1973

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the April 1973 Storm Data Publication, and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:

Width:

  • SPC/NCDC list a 440 yard width. (1/4 mile)
  • Grazulis has the width at 400 yards.  Mention in his summary though the funnel was up to 3/4 mile wide.
  • Storm Data lists a 3/4 mile width.

Injuries:

  • Storm Data list 8 injuries.
  • Remaining sources have 12 injuries.

Sources:

The Storm Prediction Center

NCDC Storm Events Database

4/1973 Storm Data Publication

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 1136.