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60 Years Ago Today...'Ruskin Heights' tornado (2 Viewers)


WesL

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That is some pretty impressive damage. Looking at those cars you can see how they just rolled and rolled. Scary stuff, especially with little or no warning. I think we all take that for granted today.
 

SGFmoTwister

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Springfield, Missouri, USA
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The scariest thing to me about this tornado is this pic:

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This tornado was in 1957, when the Kansas City metro area was largely rural with a spattering of small suburban developments, as you can see if you look in the upper right of the pic. If this tornado were to occur today & take the same path, the damage and death toll would undoubtedly be much higher than it was back then. KC is another one of those probable worst case scenarios for an F5 tornado hitting a densely populated urban area, especially during rush hour.
 

SGFmoTwister

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I'd love to find these books...

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The house in the 'car in the basement' pics is under the 'U.S. 71' label on the map. The damage in this section of Hickman Mills is just as bad as the Ruskin Heights stuff. It's tragic the tornado seem to strengthen back to full force, grow in size, and turn north, then northeast to plow into those two areas.
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buckeye05

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Riverside, Ohio
Interesting to note the anchor bolts in the pictures from Hickman Mills.
Yup. Always felt that a majority of the damage from this one could be classified as EF4. However, there were a few homes that had their bolted-down subfloors ripped from the anchor bolts, leaving the basements exposed. These few homes could be classified as isolated spots of genuine EF5 damage among a sea of EF4 imo. Another such house is visible one house down from the top in this pic as well (already posted above). Note the near complete lack of debris at that particular home as well compared to the others.


Another photo from the same area of Ruskin Heights showing additional likely EF5 damage to two other nearby homes.


Harder to see, but more EF5 candidates visible in this pic too.
 
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Location
Madison, WI
Again, the Chuck LeMaster/Ottawa Herald photos strongly resemble several of the tornadoes from 4/27/11, particularly the Cordova tornado and the Cullman tornado in its later stages, with that practically ground-scraping updraft base/wall cloud pendant from a large rain-free base; and easily mistaken for a much larger tornado from a distance where the space between it and the ground is obscured by hills/trees.
 
Messages
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Missouri
Again, the Chuck LeMaster/Ottawa Herald photos strongly resemble several of the tornadoes from 4/27/11, particularly the Cordova tornado and the Cullman tornado in its later stages, with that practically ground-scraping updraft base/wall cloud pendant from a large rain-free base; and easily mistaken for a much larger tornado from a distance where the space between it and the ground is obscured by hills/trees.
I have a feeling the Tri-State had a similar set up, with many of the descriptions of it being a big cloud moving along the ground, the hilly terrain of Dixie Alley makes it easier for the wall clouds to be mistaken for the tornado, whereas Ruskin Heights occurred in the flatter 'traditional' (for lack of a better word) Tornado Alley making it easier to see the funnel below. It also has a rather long path length for a tornado in this region of the country, it also touched down around dusk in Kansas and struck the KC area around 7:30, after dark, again, like many Dixie events.
 
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Messages
332
Location
Missouri
I'd love to find these books...

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The house in the 'car in the basement' pics is under the 'U.S. 71' label on the map. The damage in this section of Hickman Mills is just as bad as the Ruskin Heights stuff. It's tragic the tornado seem to strengthen back to full force, grow in size, and turn north, then northeast to plow into those two areas.
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Those two books both seem highly out of print, only a single used copy for $100 on Amazon, and in 'acceptable' condition at that....I'm sure if you traveled to the Kansas City area you could find them at many of the libraries or historical society museums there. I'm not sure if they're worth getting a hold of though, as I bet all the photographs in them are easily available via digital archives and the like.
Also, regarding your quote "It's tragic the tornado seem to strengthen back to full force, grow in size, and turn north, then northeast to plow into those two areas", is the consensus that it was a single tornado or could it have been a closely spaced family of two or three? The reason I ask is because it has a rather long path length for a Central Plains event (~70 miles).
 

SGFmoTwister

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Springfield, Missouri, USA
To me 'Ruskin Height' seems like Moore 1999 in that it clearly went through several cycles during its lifespan. So, I think it was the same tornado, but different vortices being more dominate than others at times. Just a guess. It changed appearance quite often, so it's hard to tell. I wish we had some video footage of it or even more pictures. Too bad that no photos of it while in Hickman Mills/Ruskin Heights exist. It seems to be as wide in that area as it had been near Spring HIll, KS, so I've always imagined it looking like it does in that scary picture when going through Ruskin Heights.

Actually, I think it was still somewhat light at that time...it wouldn't be all that dark until about 8-8:30 in late May in Missouri. I think the Hickman Mills/Ruskin Heights people had a good look at it...too good of a look for the people in its path!!!

A lot of the information from people recounting its appearance have commented on how different it looked depending on where you were located. If the sun was behind you it looked a certain way, but if you were in front of the sun it changed yet again and then the people who were north/south of it described yet a third appearance to the funnel.
 
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