Where Tornadoes Begin

The most remarkable and interesting features of the development of tornadoes is the fact that they nearly always from southeast of a moving center of low pressure, and their tracks, scattered here and there, conform closely to the progressive direction of the main storm.

For example, on Feb. 19, 1884, forty-four tornadoes occurred in Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina, but principally in Georgia and Alabama. They developed at a distance of 500 to 2,000 miles from a storm-center that moved across the northern part of the United States, beginning at the northern extremity of the Rocky Mountains in Montana, thence south-easterly through Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to northern Illinois and Indiana, northward through Michigan, across Lake Huron, disappearing north of Quebec.

This sudden sharp turn of the storm center southward into Illinois and Indiana. Seems to have relation to the unprecedentedly large number of tornadoes that developed not far from the south Atlantic coats, extending inland as far as southern Illinois and Indian. This southward lunge of a mass of cold, moist air seems to have caused the abnormal conditions of temperate and due point, and the high winds necessary to case the most tremendous exhibition of destructive, terrible tornado power ever recorded by the signal service.

This invariable location southeast of the storm center is one of the main peculiarities of tornado development upon which the predictions depend.

Popular Science Monthly

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s African American Newspapers Collection. This enormous collection of African American newspapers contains a wealth of information about cultural life and history during the 1800s and is rich with first-hand reports of the major events and issues of the day.

Source: The Christian Recorder, February 4, 1884
Top Image: Damage from a tornado which struck Fort Smith, Arkansas on the night of January 11, 1898. From NOAA Public Domain Photo Archive

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