SPC Stats

Path length: 3.3 miles

Width:  50 yards

Fatalities:  1

Injuries:  7

Rating:  F3

County:  Harris

A total of 12 tornadoes pushed across parts of Texas and Louisiana on October 28, 1974.  We look at a tornado given an official rating of F3 that hit Baytown, TX.  Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes has a rating of F2. The tornado hit the south end of the Baytown tunnel at rush hour.  A tunnel guard described the event, “It was just like a big vacuum cleaner.”  At least a dozen cars were picked up at the end of the tunnel.  A Department of Public Safety patrolman was quoted as saying, The tornado was full of water and it picked up 12 cars and threw them against each other and against the walls at the entrance to the tunnel.”  (The Town Talk, Alexandria Rapids, LA, October 29, 1974).  Mr. Theo Hines was killed when his car was picked up and thrown over a 20-foot wall.  

Storm Data Entry

Tornado struck at end of automobile tunnel creating a vacuum in the tunnel, overturning a gasoline truck and causing several others to lose control. Seven houses damaged of which four were severe.  Witness reported freight train noise.  A maintenance garage was destroyed and the canopy was ripped from a service station.  Other damage consisted of damaged roofs, porches and flying debris.

Additional Details from Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes

  • Moved NNE at Baytown.
  • Hit the south (the La Porte end) of the Baytown tunnel.
  • A dozen cars were picked up from the road at the end of the tunnel.  
  • A man was killed when his car was thrown over a 20-foot-high wall onto a levee.

Tornado Path

SPC coordinates:  Start: 29.70 / -95.02      End: 29.73 / -94.98

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

Newspaper Clippings

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the October 1974 Storm Data Publication and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:

Path Length:

  • SPC/NCDC have a 3.3 mile path length.
  • Storm Data has the path at 3 miles.
  • Grazulis has a 4 mile path.

Width:

  • Grazulis has a 70 yard width.
  • Remaining sources has a width of 50 yards.

Rating:

  • Grazulis has an F2 rating.
  • SPC/NCDC has an F3 rating.

      Sources:

      The Storm Prediction Center

      NCDC Storm Events Database

      October 1974 Storm Data Publication

      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 1167.

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