SPC Stats

Path length: 1 mile

Width:  333 yards

Fatalities:  18

Injuries:  300

Rating:  F4

County:  Houston

Per the Storm Prediction Center (SPC), 6 tornadoes moved through parts of Central GA on April 30, 1953.  All of them had short path lengths, around 5 miles or less.  In his book Significant Tornadoes, Thomas Grazulis describes a family of tornadoes that covered 50 miles across parts of Peach, Houston, Twiggs and Wilkinson Counties causing widespread damage.  The majority of this damage was in the Warner Robins Area (southern part) in Houston County.  The SPC has listings for Peach, Houston and Twiggs Counties but nothing for Wilkinson.  I also found small summaries in the Climatological Data National Summary from April 1953 for all but Wilkinson County.  I have all of that information attached below the map.

The focus of our summary will be on the tornado that went through the Warner Robins Area.  The official stats from the SPC is that the tornado had a path length of only 1 mile.  The max width was 333 yards.  There were 300 injuries and 18 fatalities reported.  Per Grazulis, most of the 18 deaths were in families of Air Force personnel living on two housing projects.  The tornado was given a rating of F4.

Narratives from the April 1953 Climatological Data National Summary

Fort Valley (near), Peach County, GA:  Storm moving east-northeastward, occurred 2 miles south of Fort Valley.  7 families on 2 farms affected, with 3 homes destroyed and 1 damaged and numerous instances of roof damage;  Tractor damaged.  Garden and row of pecan trees destroyed.

Warner Robins, GA:  Wide bottom tornado funnel observed 5 minutes before storm struck.  Storm, moving east-northeastward, first struck city farm on Pleasant Hill Rd., then through housing project at Warner Robbins via Pagens Mill Rd., and Second & Third Avenues.  Terrific winds, exceeding 100 mph. destroyed 275 apartment units, 65 homes, and 25 trailers, heavily damaging 84 apartment units, 135 homes, with extensive destruction and damage to many other structures and property.  Pieces of property hurled high in air and scattered 1/2 mile or more from main path of storm; deaths and injuries due mainly to flying brick and other debris.  Heavy hail as large as golf balls accompanied storm, losses from which indistinguishable fro total losses;  600 families affected.

Dry Branch (near), Twiggs County, GA:  Church demolished, porch roof blown off automobile damaged, and several other houses and other property damaged on Reggins Mill Rd.

Jeffersonville (near), Twiggs County, GA:  Near Kooler Mines on Reggins Rd.  Skirted downtown section of Jeffersonville, moving northeastward in rural section.  Much timber damaged, 4 rural homes destroyed and 11 damaged;  15 families affected.  This may be same storm that struck Dry Branch.  Note:  Late evening tornadoes of April 30 followed a general path starting at about Buena Vista and moving near Fort Valley and through Warner Robbins, dying out in the rural section of Twiggs County.

Tornado Path

Click Map To Enlarge

SPC coordinates (only one point given):  Start: 32.60 / -83.60  

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

Tornado Image via Significant Tornadoes by Thomas Grazulis

Videos

Newspaper Clippings

Sources:

The Storm Prediction Center

NCDC Storm Events Database

April 1953 Climatological Data National Summary

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 968-969.

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