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22aprAll DayOnalaska (San Jacinto/Trinity/Polk Counties, TX)

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Start Time: 5:35 pm CDT 

End Time:  6:15 pm CDT 

Rating:  EF3

Estimated Peak Winds: 140 mph

Path length: 32.31 miles

Width:  1100 yards

Fatalities: 3

Injuries:  33

County:  San Jacinto, Trinity, Polk

State:  Texas

Start Lat/Lon: 30.8283 / -95.2418

End Lat/Lon: 30.8811 / -94.7046


It appears the tornado may have started very near the Waterwood Marina on the west shore of Lake Livingston, where a couple of trees were blown down, or over the lake itself. It then strengthened considerably as it moved across the lake and into the Paradise Acres area of Onalaska. Winds possibly reached 140 mph as the storm moved across this location, which was the only EF3 damage the NWS could confirm along the 32 mile track. The tornado killed three and injured 33 in Onalaska with 291 homes affected and 46 destroyed. It was estimated to be about 500 yards wide as it moved across the town. The tornado continued a general east-northeastward track across rural Polk county where it snapped and uprooted numerous hardwood and softwood trees and intermittently damaged structures. The tornado path was measured at just over a half-mile wide as it crossed Highway 59 near Seven Oaks, where EF2 damage was surveyed with destruction of two mobile homes and damage to hardwood trees. The tornado remained in rural areas until it ended very close to Barnes in northeast Polk county. Near the end of the track, a large tree destroyed a mobile home and miraculously just missed a man who was sitting at his computer. He was not seriously injured.

For historical context, this was the deadliest single tornado for the NWS Houston-Galveston forecast area since Nov 15th, 1987 when a tornado also killed three in Madison County. The deadliest tornado on record for this area is the F4 in Galveston which killed 8 during Hurricane Carla in 1961. This is only the 8th multiple-fatality tornado for counties served by our office since 1950.


Sources:

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