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Udall Tornado 1955

Udall tornado damageThe worst tornado in Kansas history leveled the community of Udall on the first of a three-day storm series which raged across Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. Shortly after 10:30 p.m. May 25, 1955, the tornado struck the south end of Udall without warning. Within minutes, death and destruction covered the small, sleeping community in northwest Cowley County.

The south half of town was completely leveled. The northern half fared little better, as all houses, except one, were damaged. The only remaining businesses were the bank, post office, and the Odd Fellows Home. Gone were 192 buildings and 170 homes. The remaining homes were found unlivable.

The biggest loss came in lives. Nearly half of the families of Udall lost one or more members. The death toll eventually reached 87, with approximately 200 injured. 20 percent of the population was gone.

Out of the rubble and despair emerged not only a new Udall, but also awareness for improved discrimination and communication of severe weather information. Today the concerted efforts of the National Weather Service, law enforcement agencies, the Civil Defense Service, Severe Storm Spotter Networks, the public, and the media greatly minimize the risk Udall faced in the 1950s.

Entry: Udall Tornado 1955

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: November 2004

Date Modified: April 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.