SPC Stats

Path length: 28.3 miles

Width:  300 yards

Fatalities:  11

Injuries:  200

Rating:  F4

County:  Jackson, Williamson, Franklin

A total of 25 tornadoes occurred on December 17, 1957, all in Illinois or Missouri.  Two were later rated F4 and one was given an F5 rating. In this summary, we look at an F4 that traveled close to 30 miles through parts of Jackson, Williamson and Franklin Counties in Illinois. Per Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes, the path followed closely to a section of the great Tri-State Tornado of March 18, 1925. He also notes that the point of origin may have been in Missouri.  

Forty homes were destroyed in Gorham. Intense damage occurred at Murphysboro. 40 homes destroyed and 10 were killed. The deaths occurred in an older portion of town. There was another fatality in the Sand Ridge area. Estimated path speed at 60 mph. Murphysboro was without power for close to 3 days.

Tragically, four members of a family were killed. The Southern Illinoisan from December 19, 1957 interviewed George Butcher.  He lost his wife and three children when their home was hit. A daughter was seriously hurt and another son was not injured. Here is the article and a picture which epitomizes what loss looks like.

Tornado Path

SPC coordinates:  Start: 37.70 / -89.48      End: 37.88 / -89.02

Corrected Coordinates based on damage reports:

Start:  37.710689/-89.512722       End: 37.896559/-88.991876.

Veer in path: 37.758856/-89.329689

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

Facebook Photos

Newspaper Clippings

Discrepancies:

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

Path Length:

  • SPC/NCDC have a 28.3 mile path length.
  • Grazulis and CDNS have a length at 30 miles.

Counties in Path:

  • CDNS lists Jackson and Williamson Counties.
  • Remaining sources include Franklin County.
  • SPC Coordinates include all 3 counties.

      Sources:

      The Storm Prediction Center

      NCDC Storm Events Database

      December 1957 Climatological Data National Summary

      Murphysboro citizens remember 1957 tornado

      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 1013.

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      Note:  There are some images/videos in our summaries that were licensed to us to be used only on this website. If you would like to use an image/video in your project or blog, please contact us and we will grant permission if possible.

      Newspaper clips are embedded via newspapers.com.  Please see their terms and conditions.


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