Springfield, IL F4 Tornado – June 14, 1957

A few of the many destroyed homes from the tornado that struck Springfield June 14-15, 1957. Sangamon County Historical Society

SPC Stats:

Path length: 4.3 miles

Width:  220 yards

Fatalities:  2

Injuries:  50

Rating:  F4

Counties:  Sangamon

Per the Storm Prediction Center Database, there were 12 tornadoes confirmed on June 14, 1957.  The strongest of the day is the topic fo this summary.  It tracked through the southeastern part of Springfield, IL near Jerome and was later rated F4.  Per the NWS Springfield, IL, "The parent thunderstorm produced a 98 mph wind gust at Capital Airport on the north side of town."

Per the Sangamon County Historical Society: "Mrs. Paul Farley, 60, and Anna Belle Larson, 37 were killed in this tornado.  Property damage was estimated at $3 million; 25 homes were destroyed and 175 others badly damaged.  

“This tornado … ended the myth that Springfield was tornado-proof because it was in a bowl,” reported the Illinois State Register the next day.

Climatological Data National Summary Entry

1/2 mile wide path of heavy wind damage extending from southwest of city east-northeastward through south side of city culminated in severe tornado destruction in 220 yard by 1/2 mile area.  Only scattered evidence of tornado winds in other parts of damage area.  Funnel obscured by heavy rain showers and rapidly advancing dark and low clouds.  Scattered reports of roaring sound and report of “ear-popping”.  Wind gusts to 106 mph and minor damage at Capital Airport, 4-1/2 miles NW of main path.  Same storm complex that hit Jacksonville 30 minutes earlier and 31 miles to west.

Additional information from Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes

  • Moved ENE across the SE part of Springfield.
  • Approximately $1 million in damage from the tornado and accompanying microbursts.
  • The deaths occurred in homes where a funnel cloud was sighted.

Tornado Path

Discrepancies:

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

Path Length:

  • SPC/NCDC have a 4.3 mile path length.
  • Grazulis has 1/2 mile path.
  • CDNS has no official path listed but mentions in the summary, "severe tornado destruction in 220 yard by 1/2 mile area."

Max Width:

  • Grazulis has a width of 200 yards.
  • Remaining sources list the width at 220 yards.

Rating:

  • Grazulis has a rating of F3.
  • SPC/NCDC list an F4 rating

Sources:

The Storm Prediction Center

NCDC Storm Events Database

June 1957 Climatological Data National Summary

Sangamon County Tornadoes Since 1950 - NWS Springfield

Springfield tornado of 1957 - Sangamon County Historical Society

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 1009.