SPC Stats

Path length: 9.1 miles

Width:  500 yards

Fatalities:  7

Injuries:  75

Rating:  F4

County:  Carter

The month of May in 1957 was very active.  Per the NWS Paducah, approximately 231 tornadoes were reported.  The Storm Prediction Center shows 18 on May 21.  One of the strongest was later rated F4.  The town of Fremont, MO was devastated.  Per Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes, “Only seven homes were left in tact in Fremont, with possibly F5 damage to homes, schools, and businesses on the east side of town.”

Even though the town was laid in ruins and the headline above wondered if the town would be rebuilt, it does still exist.  Per the 2010 census, the population was 129.   

The official track from the SPC is in Carter County and the length is 9.1 miles.  Grazulis believes the track may have started in the Mark Twain National Forest in the Southeastern Part of Shannon County.  He has the path length at 25 miles.  I have included in our track map an approximate lat/lon for where the tornado MAY have started.  

I am including the entire Climatological Data National Summary entry for this event.  This tornado was more than likely a part of a family and they include broad details about what happened in this area.

The NWS Paducah has a very good summary of this event.  They include numerous newspaper articles, images and personal accounts.  Here is one of those accounts.  Explore their summary here.


Mr. Junior Jones:
Interview conducted May 11th, 2007

Junior was 17 years old at the time. He was driving with his father on US 60 east toward Fremont. They were about a half mile from town when they had to stop and let the monster storm pass right in front of them. Little did they know what was going to greet them when they arrived in town. As the storm passed in front of them, Mr. Jones said he saw trees, limbs and other debris rolling across the road and even heard a roaring sound, but he said he had no idea there was a tornado. After they let the storm pass, they continued into town and began to see the devastation. The first thing Mr. Jones said he remembers seeing was the school house, which was flattened. He mentioned that as much as he hated school, he was sure saddened by seeing the destruction. As he was heading downtown, he looked up toward the hill where his cousin (Edward Jones) and his wife (Marlene Jones) and two children (Theresa and DeWayne Jones) lived. He saw that the house was completely gone. When he went to investigate the damage, he found Marlene and Dewayne did not make it. Theresa was alive but very badly injured. He also discovered that Marlene’s mother in law, Mrs. Della Jones, did not survive. Mr. Jones found out that Della was actually running up the hill to try and warn her daughter in law and grandchildren of the storm, but got caught in the tornado.

Details from the Climatological Data National Summary Entry

Tornado hit Fremont just before 4pm then moved to Van Buren and then toward Piedmont, Wayne County.  Town of Fremont was devastated, with only 7 homes intact.  In Van Buren, damage severe but not as complete as in Fremont.  Large hail reported at Van Buren at 4pm.  Exact path of storm difficult to reconstruct, since some of area sparsely inhabited, and reports of more than 1 funnel involved.  

Some evidence that this storm or funnel clouds which developed in same “family” of funnels, went from Piedmont, Wayne County; to Centerville, Reynolds County;  Belgrade, Washington County; and Desloge and Cantwell, St. Francois County;  and eventually into Illinois near Ste. Genevieve.  Heave damage to homes, buildings and timber.  Storm moved east-northeastward.

Tornado Path

Click Map To Enlarge

SPC coordinates:  Start: 36.95 / -91.17   End:  37.00 / -91.02      

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

Damage Photos via NWS Paducah

Most of these photos were gathered from survivors of the tornado

Main Street- Fremont. The stamp on the back of this picture read: Photo by Faust Willow Springs, MO. According to Linda Norton: Faye Windes (High) and her mother lived in the house on the left side of this picture. They owned a cafe in that house called High's Cafe. They were inside when the tornado struck and the house fell down on them. As they were crawling out, they couldn't find the mother's glasses. Everything in the house was destroyed. However, in a crack in the wooden floors, the mother found her glasses without a stratch on them. After they crawled out, they looked over at the house next door, which is where Faye's Grandmother, Mrs. Emily Hurt, lived. The house was gone. They thought for sure Grandma was dead. But then they saw Grandma walking toward them. She was in the outhouse out back behind the house and was not hurt at all. Her house was gone, just the concrete slab was left, along with her sewing machine....just sitting there on the slab.
Looking down Main Street in Fremont, MO after the tornado
Damaged tree in Fremont, MO
Damage in Fremont, MO
The school house after the tornado.

Newspaper Clippings

Discrepancies:

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

Path Length:

  • SPC/NCDC have a 9.1 mile path (only in Carter County).
  • CDNS has no path length.
  • Grazulis has 25 mile path length (includes part of Shannon County).

Max Width:

  • CDNS has range of widths from 400-500 yards.
  • Remaining sources have 500 yard width.

Injuries:

  • CDNS has a range of injuries from 50-75.
  • Remaining sources have 75 injuries.

      Sources:

      The Storm Prediction Center

      NCDC Storm Events Database

      May 1957 Climatological Data National Summary

      NWS Paducah Summary of the Event

      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 1007.

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