Orange, TX F4 Tornado – November 7, 1957

SPC Stats:

Path length: 12.9 miles

Width:  200 yards

Fatalities:  1

Injuries:  81

Rating:  F4

County:  Orange

It is considered one of the worst outbreaks to occur across Southeast Texas/Southwest Louisiana.  At least 14 tornadoes hit this area on November 7, 1957.  I found a great write-up from Sam Shamburger, forecaster for the National Weather Service written in 2007.  He did an in depth review of this outbreak, documenting details and discrepancies.  He provides information for all 14 tornadoes.  5 of them caused fatalities.  

The Orange, TX F4 tornado is the topic of this summary.  It was the strongest of the outbreak.  180 homes were destroyed.  115 of these were in the Riverside Housing Project.  9 ships and 3 barges were torn from their moorings.  

There was 1 fatality.  A pregnant woman was killed at 2nd Street and John Street in Orange.  Her name was Annebell Peck, an African-American woman who was pregnant.  She was pinned beneath the wreckage of her two-story frame dwelling.  (The Odessa American, November 8, 1957). 

The NWS Summary denoted the wide range of injury reports.  The Orange Leader reported 20 injuries while the Beaumont Enterprise reported 81 injuries.  That summary as well as Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes landed on an injury count of 50.  

Sam Shamburger also noted the the F4 rating is questionable because the quality of the housing in the area was poor.  He felt an F3 rating would have been more accurate.  He also notes that there were reports in the Orange Leader that the tornado was dissipating into a downburst as it moved into the housing project.  "However, it is possible the tornado crossed into Louisiana before lifting."

Climatological Data National Summary Entry

Several business houses destroyed, 130 homes demolished, 250 others heavily damaged;  100 families homeless. 9 ships and 3 barges torn from moorings. Thousands of telephones cut off and power disrupted.  Tornado moved east-northeastward.

Additional Information from Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes

  • Lists 180 homes were destroyed at Orange.
  • ~115 of the destroyed homes were in the Riverside Housing Project.
  • The tornado was the 4th in this area to occur on this day and appears to be the most intense.

Tornado Path

Click map to enlarge.

The SPC coordinates are not correct:  Start: 30.10 / -93.73      End: 29.97 / -93.88

When you plot this, the beginning point is in the town of Orange.  The end point is SW in Jefferson County NE of Groves.  The Climatological Data National Summary states the tornado moved ENE not NE to SW.  I based my map off of one provided by Sam Shamburger with the National Weather Service.  His in depth research shows the tornado started SW Orange, crossed through town and ended NE of the city.  I have included his map below.  

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

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the November 1957 Climatological Data National Summary (CDNS), Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and a Summary via NWS Shreveport and found the following differences:

Path Length:

  • SPC/NCDC have a 12.9 mile path length.
  • Storm Data has no listing.
  • Grazulis and NWS have a 6 mile path.

Injury Count:

  • Grazulis and the NWS Summary list 50 injuries.
  • Remaining sources have 81 injuries.

Event Start Time:

  • NWS Summary has a start time of 2125.
  • SPC and Grazulis have a start time of 2327.

Sources:

The Storm Prediction Center

NCDC Storm Events Database

November 1957 Climatological Data National Summary

November 7, 1957 Historic Tornado Outbreak - NWS Lake Charles

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 1011-1012.