Kaplan, LA F3 Tornado – September 10, 1961

Hurricane Carla as seen by WSR-57 radar at Galveston, Texas. Arrow designates location of tornado which occurred near Kaplan, Louisiana. Monthly Weather Review, December 1962, p. 515.

SPC Stats:

Path length: 5.7 miles

Width:  283 yards

Fatalities:  1

Injuries:  55

Rating:  F3

Parish:  Vermilion

In today's summary we look at one of the tornadoes spawned by Hurricane Carla.   Per a NWS Corpus Christi Summary on Carla:  "Carla began as a tropical depression in the southwest Caribbean Sea on September 3rd, 1961. It became a tropical storm off the coast of Honduras on the 5th and quickly gained hurricane strength as it moved north to east of the Yucatan peninsula on the 6th. After skimming the Yucatan peninsula, Carla moved northwest and strengthened to a large major hurricane over the Gulf of Mexico on the evening of the 7th. The winds increased to around 175 mph early on the morning of the 11th making Carla a Category 5 hurricane. Carla weakened slightly as it made a loop off the coast from Port O'Connor. Carla made landfall on the afternoon of the 11th on the northeast part of Matagorda Island as a strong Category 4 hurricane with a minimum central pressure of 931 millibars, or 27.49 inches of mercury, and sustained winds of 145 mph. The eye of Carla moved across Port O'Connor and Port Lavaca and then inland just east of Victoria. Carla weakened to a tropical storm on the morning of the 12th just east of Austin."

Per the NWS overview, there were 18 total tornadoes associated with Carla, 10 were in Louisiana.  On Sept 10, five of the Louisiana tornadoes were produced.  3 were in Vermilion Parish.  The strongest was rated F3.  At the time of this writing, the Storm Data Publication was not accessible via the NCDC web site.  I used data from the SPC, Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and newspaper articles to write this summary.

Per Thomas Grazulis:  This tornado moved northwest from 2 miles southeast of Kaplan and it passed through 27 blocks of town.  Approximately 21 homes were destroyed, 55 heavily damaged and 175 more received minor damage.  There were 55 injuries and an infant was killed.  4-week old Nancy Ann Simon was killed at her home at the intersection of Ninth St. and Faye Ave.  Per a newspaper article int he Abbeville Meridional, the home was moved from its foundation and thrown about 25 feet onto Ninth Street.  The baby was killed by a falling object.  

Storm Data Entry

Access to Storm Data Publications via the NCDC website was not available at the time of this writing.  Will update when back online.

Tornado Path

SPC Coordinates:  Start:30.00 / -92.30      End: 30.08 / -92.30

These coordinates are off.  Per Thomas Grazulis, the tornado moved NW through Kaplan.  Newspaper articles support that.

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:

Path Length:

  • SPC/NCDC have a 5.7 mile path length.
  • Grazulis has a length at 5 miles.

Width:

  • SPC/NCDC have a width of 283 yards.
  • Grazulis has a width at 300 yards.

Sources:

The Storm Prediction Center

NCDC Storm Events Database

NOAA Photo Library

NWS Corpus Christi 50th Anniversary Summary on Carla

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 1038.