Girard KS to Osceola, MO F3 Tornado – March 15, 1982

SPC Stats:

Path length: 70 miles

Width:  600 yards

Fatalities:  2

Injuries:  8

Rating:  F3

County:  Crawford, KS / Barton, Vernon, Cedar, St. Clair, MO

This was one of the strongest tornadoes of an outbreak of 23 that occurred during the evening of March 15, 1982.   Most of the twisters were in Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri.  This tornado was given a rating of F3.  It had a path of 70 miles.  There were 2 fatalities and 8 injuries.

The tornado developed 4 miles east of Girard, KS.  It hit the towns of Arma and Mulberry.  Several homes on the south side of Arma were moved off their foundation.  At Mulberry, 50 homes were destroyed, another 90 were damaged.  A grocery store south of the tornado was demolished by downburst winds.  Judith James was killed in a mobile home.

Wed, Mar 17, 1982 – 3 · The Manhattan Mercury (Manhattan, Kansas) · Newspapers.com

The tornado moved away from Mulberry, KS and into the state of Missouri where it spent most of its time.  Per the survey, the tornado was on the ground for 46 miles, lifted for a few miles and then set down again ending near Osceola.   In Missouri, 34 homes or buildings were destroyed, 70 more were damaged.  A woman was killed at Cedar Springs. 

Wed, Mar 17, 1982 – 1 · The Springfield News-Leader (Springfield, Missouri) · Newspapers.com

Images via the March 1982 Storm Data Publication

Discrepancies:

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

Path Length:

  • SPC/NCDC have the length at 70 miles.  This is how we choose the event.
  • Storm Data has the KS portion at 9 miles and MO portion as 60 miles.  
  • Grazulis has a family of tornadoes at 70 miles.

Width:

  • Storm Data lists the max width in KS at 700 yards and a range of widths in MO:  1500 to 150 yards.

Counties:

  • The counties in the path should be:  Crawford (KS), Barton, Vernon, Cedar, St. Clair (MO).
  • Storm Data doesn't list Vernon.

Sources:

The Storm Prediction Center

NCDC Storm Events Database

3/1982 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 1234.