This summary looks back at an estimated F2 tornado from December 17, 1915. Information for this event came from the following resources:
- Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes
- Archived Monthly Weather Review entry from the Weather Bureau from 1915. The report was written by Don McNeal, Assistant Observer.
- Newspaper articles via newspapers.com
Coordinates based on damage reports:
Start: 31.844845/-88.699353 End: 32.874040/-88.292903.
Veers in path: 32.530185/-88.719611
Second tornado near Preston, coordinates based on damage reports:
Start: 32.920917/-88.870121 End: 32.953220/-88.824530
I have created a path based on details from the review, Grazulis and newspapers. This is a pure guesstimate to give us an idea on how this tornado may have tracked.
From the review: “The storm first appeared in violence as a tornado near Shubuta, in the southern portion of Clarke County. From here it moved north and northeastward in a zigzag and erratic manner, and with decreasing violence as it approached the more uneven topography of Lauderdale County. It appeared to have spent itself at this point but later reappeared with extreme violence near Daleville, in the northern portion of the county. It then continued in intensity, and again moved northeastward in a broken and uneven course across the swampy and heavily forested areas of that section, leaving destruction in its wake through a path ranging in width from 50 to 800 yards. It was last observed in the vicinity of Geiger, AL which place marks the end of the path of serious damage.”
Based on this we can take the path from near Shubuta north to around Daleville and then northeast to Geiger. The review also mentions the communities of Preston and Scooba. Scooba would fit in the path. Preston would not. The summary states that “practically the entire town was destroyed and many persons were injured, although no deaths are reported.” Grazulis believes this was a separate tornado and has a separate entry for it. He gives this tornado a rating of F2.
Newspaper articles mention the communities of Cullum, Giles and Obadiah in MS. Meridian is also mentioned as receiving some damage but the monthly review doesn’t express that.
Grazulis does not mention the southern part of the path. He starts it from SE of Scooba to Geiger, AL.
Here are the stats on this event from Thomas Grazulis:
Hit at 0400 local time. There were 5 injuries and 2 fatalities. The path length was 6 miles and no width provided. Rating given: F2.
Details from Grazulis:
- Moved ENE from SE of Scooba to Geiger, AL.
- Two people killed near Giles, MS.
- A home and a railroad station destroyed at Geiger.
- Only includes Kemper County, MS and Sumter County, AL in the path.
The Monthly Weather Review
Notes that 5 miles east of Scooba, the tornado may have reached greatest intensity. The summary also lists some peculiar incidents in connection with the tornado. Here are just a few:
- Limbs were said to have been torn from one side of pine trees while on the other side the limbs and branches were intact.
- One side of the roof of a barn was torn completely off, the other side was not damaged.
- An oak tree, 4 feet in diameter, was uprooted and carried 16 feet and left resting with the top pointing toward the southwest.
- A woman was picked up from her bed and “dashed to death” while a baby lying by her side remained unhurt.
- There was a house where all windows and doors were blown out, a quart of canned fruit, in a glass container, was lifted from the mantelpiece and deposited on the floor undamaged.
The summary states that there were 6 deaths from this event and 75 injuries. Grazulis notes this was likely but details were not available.
Newspaper articles at the time do show reports of other communities that received damage and had fatalities/injuries. But this articles often were contradictory in information. Here is an example:
- The Vicksburg Evening Post on December 17, 1915 writes that the entire town of Cullum was destroyed with 10 killed and 100 hurt.
- The Jackson Daily News on December 17, 1915 also report Cullum was demolished with only one building standing. It also states no one was hurt seriously.
This newspaper article from the Vicksburg Herald on December 18, 1915 seems to match closely to the Monthly Weather Review in terms of the path.
I found the names of the two fatalities in Giles, MS. From the Vicksburg Herald, December 19, 1915: “Mrs. Howard Kitchin and her small son were believed fatally injured and the husband seriously hurt when they were buried under the wreckage of their home.”
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