Path length: 0.5 miles
Width: 30 yards
The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) Database lists 3 tornadoes on October 22, 1972. We look at one of those in this summary. It was given a rating of F3. Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes believes the damage was more in the F2 range. That was just one discrepancy with this event.
This tornado occurred during a Sunday morning but there are differences on what time it exactly hit. The SPC lists a time of 8:00 CST while NCDC lists 9:00 CDT. Storm Data just says “morning”. Grazulis lists 0300 Local Standard Time. An article in The Marshall News Messenger on October 23, 1972 says the tornado “first touched down” at 6:20am.
In this same newspaper, they state the tornado had a path of about 10 miles. Officially though, the path is listed at only 1/2 mile.
There was tremendous damage to the Harold Ratcliff home. Two of their daughters had minor injuries and were sent to the hospital. Per an article in the Marshall News Messenger, Mrs. Ratcliff was quoted as saying “the whole house trembled then just exploded.” The article stated that many of the dishes and glasses in the house were left intact even though there was rubble along the bare foundation.
Additional details from the Marshall News Messenger:
The Ratcliffe house was located one mile south of Interstate 20 on Farm to Market Road 2199, in the Fugler Addition neighborhood. A boat in the yard next to the Ratcliff home was thrown over 200 yards away. A pleasure barge was flipped, and stripped of its motor. Two other homes were heavily damaged, and the five other homes in the neighborhood sustained minor damage. One woman reported that her german shepherd was carried away in his doghouse. She never found the dog house, but the dog returned home shortly after the tornado. It also snapped a metal pipe supporting a basketball goal at its base.
The tornado “bounced” through a wooded area, “scattering pine trees like kindling wood.” it crossed Interstate 20 about a mile east of FM2199, where a tractor-trailer loaded with 39,000 pounds of meat was flipped over, and blocked the east-bound lane of the highway for 12 hours. The driver of the tractor-trailer Earl Richens was not injured. The meat was valued at $40,000.
The funnel then hit the Rocking B Ranch, located just south of Highway 80. Here, the tin roof was torn off a hay barn. Tin and hay were strewn a quarter of a mile away, across the Highway. Surrounding trees were wrapped in tin. A house, 100 yards from the barn sustained minor damage. The tornado dissipated before it reached Highway 80.
We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the October 1972 Storm Data Publication, the Marshal News Messenger and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:
- Grazulis has a rating of F2.
- SPC/NCDC list the rating as F3.
- Grazulis/Storm Data/SPC have a 1/2 mile path.
- The Marshall News Messenger reports a 10-mile path
- When you plot the damage reported in the paper, you get a 3-mile path.
October 1972 Storm Data Publication
Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 1133.
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