Path length: 11.9 miles
Width: 440 yards
Per the SPC database, 17 tornadoes occurred on March 26, 1976. Two were rated F4 (1 in OK, 1 in MS). At 328pm CT, a tornado that would be rated officially F5 traveled 11.9 miles through parts of LeFlore County, OK. There were 64 injuries and 2 fatalities reported. Tremendous damage occurred in and around the town of Spiro. Details on the event via the NWS Norman and Significant Tornadoes by Thomas Grazulis. Note: Grazulis gives this tornado an F4 rating.
This tornado developed 4 mile east of Bokoshe. It moved to the northeast crossing OK State Highway 59 about 2 miles south of the intersection of Highway 59 and OK State Highway 9. A local business and a mobile home were destroyed in this area.
It continued to move northeast into the SE part of Spiro. “Great destruction” occurred in this area. Railroad cars, trailer homes, houses and business buildings were destroyed.
The tornado crossed State Highway 9 where more homes were damaged/destroyed. Per the NWS, a survey of the damage in this area indicted the tornado reached F5 intensity. It was after it crossed State Highway 9 and entered the rural Murray Spur area east of Spiro. In the Murray Spur area, 7 homes were destroyed and a mobile home was demolished. There was 1 fatality in this area.
The tornado began to move in a more easterly direction after crossing the Lock and Dam/Fort Coffey Road area where 3 mobile homes were dsetroyed. I t moved east for about 1 mile and crossed OK State Highway 9 once again. The tornado lifted about 3/10 of a mile east of the point where it had cross State Higway 9.
Overall, 28 homes and 2 business buildings were destroyed. Another 63 homes and a vo-tech training center building sustained major damage. 2 people were killed, 64 were injured. 20 cattle and 20 horses were killed. Many cars and farm vehicles were destroyed.
There were eyewitness report of 2 separate funnels occassinally traveling in close proximity to each other along the path.
Images via Oklahoma Historical Society
We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the NWS Norman and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:
- NWS and Grazulis rounded up to 12 miles.
- SPC/NCDC have 11.9 miles.
- Grazulis has max width at 400 yards.
- Remaining sources have 440 yards.
- Grazulis has this tornado rated as F4.
Image 1: Associated Press. [Photograph 2012.201.B1215.0773], photograph, March 27, 1976;(gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc589198/: accessed March 25, 2018), The Gateway to Oklahoma History, gateway.okhistory.org; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society.
Image 2: Carter, J. Pat. [Photograph 2012.201.B1215.0774], photograph, 1976;(gateway.okhistory.org/ark:/67531/metadc593576/: accessed March 25, 2018), The Gateway to Oklahoma History, gateway.okhistory.org; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society.
Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 1182.
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