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Examples of Storm Damaged Schools

Todd Shea
Warning Coordination Meteorologist
National Weather Service La Crosse

Last Updated: 12/19/06


June 6, 2005 - Endicott, NY (Charles F. Johnson Elementary School). Courtesy of NWS Binghamton, NY.

    Wind gusts to 70 mph tore the roof off the Kindergarten wing of an elementary school. Luckily students had been evacuated from the area BEFORE the storms struck because the school had and used a NOAA weather radio which gave them early lead-time based on a warning from the local NWS office.

April 6, 2005 - Mize & Brandon, MS (Mize High School). Courtesy of NWS Jackson, MS.

    A tornado damaged walls and blew the roof off Mize High School. An early warning from the National Weather Service (lead time of 55 minutes!) prompting quick action - none of the 650 students or faculty in the school sustained injuries. Another high school under construction in Brandon, MS was also damaged.

February 21, 2005 - Dickson, TN (Dickson County Senior High School). Courtesy of NWS Nashville, TN.

    Straight line winds estimated around 90 mph damaged the school and bleachers.

May 22, 2004 - Hallam, NE (Norris High School). Courtesy of NWS Omaha/Valley, NE.

February 24, 2004 - Robstown, TX (San Pedro Middle School). Courtesy of NWS Corpus Christi, TX.

    Strong winds tore parts of a roof off.

September 2, 2002 - Gilman, WI (Gilman High School). Courtesy of NWS La Crosse, WI.

    An F2 tornado hit the high school on Labor Day 2002 tearing the roof off. Strong winds blew through the hallways, like a wind tunnel, blowing out doors and ripping ceiling tiles out. The football team was at the school, but had moved indoors as the storm approached. A weather radio was locked in the school office since it was a holiday. The twenty minute warning lead time was minimized to a minute or two after local officials spotted the tornado forming.

April 28, 2002 - Cypress, IL (Cypress Elem. School). Courtesy of NWS Paducah, KY.

    An F3 tornado directly hit the school but since it occurred overnight (1:30 a.m.), there were no school related casualties.

May 28, 2001 - El Paso County, CO (Ellicott Junior-Senior High School). Courtesy of NWS Pueblo, CO.

January 21, 1999 - Beebe, AR (Beebe High School). Courtesy of NWS Little Rock, AR.

    A significant tornado hit the high school about 30 minutes after an on-going basketball game had been cancelled due to impending severe weather. The decision to cancel the game was made due to monitoring of weather conditions, including NOAA Weather Radio. The gymnasium would have had 200 to 300 people in it, but had been cleared due to swift and smart action by the school superintendent.

May 31, 1998 - Antrim, NH (Great Brook Middle School). Courtesy of NWS Taunton, MA.

April 8, 1993 - Grand Isle, LA (Grand Isle High School). Courtesy of NWS Slidell, LA.

    A waterspout moved onshore (becoming a tornado) and hit the school causing one fatality on the second floor. The wood frame structure was heavily damaged.

August 28, 1990 - Plainfield, IL. Courtesy of NWS Chicago/Romeoville, IL.

    An F5 tornado hit Plainfield High School one day before classes were to begin. The football team was practicing on the field and the volleyball team was in the gym. The football coach ordered the team indoors because of lightning. They all survived. A custodian and teacher were killed though. The tornado also severely damaged a Catholic school and an elementary school but there no students in either building. The elementary school was rebuilt with zig-zagging hallways (no long straight wind tunnels), and lots of safe interior spaces.

November 16, 1989 - Newburgh, NY.

    A downburst blew in windows, doors, and a cinder block wall of a school cafeteria killing 9 children and injuring 21.

May 4, 1978 - Clearwater, FL (Highpoint Elem. School). Courtesy of NWS Tallahassee, FL.

    A tornado struck during a school day killing 3 children and injuring nearly 100 others. Property damage totaled close to $4 million.

January 10, 1975 - Summit, MS (Pike Elem. School). Courtesy of NWS Slidell, LA.

    Two buses were thrown 25-50 yards into a nearby forest, but luckily they were empty at the time.

April 21, 1967 - Belvidere, IL. Courtesy of NWS Chicago/Romeoville, IL.

    School busses had picked up students from the elementary school and stopped at the high school to pick up more. An F4 tornado struck the high school as students boarded buses. A total of 16 buses were tossed or rolled killing 11 children and injuring 140. There were no fatalities in the school building itself.

May 6, 1965 - Fridley, MN (Hayes Elem. School). Courtesy of NWS Minneapolis/Chanhassen, MN.

1925 Tri-State Tornado. Courtesy of NWS Paducah, KY. Roughly 58 kids were killed in two schools the same day.



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