NOAA and 1974 Tornado Outbreak



Between 3:40 p.m. CDT April 3 and midnight, at least 26 vicious tornadoes struck Kentucky-- in the worst storm disaster in the State's history. These tornadoes killed 77 persons, injured 1,377, and caused damage estimated at $110 million. Losses were sustained by 6,625 families, and between 1,800 and 2,000 of the State's farms were damaged to some extent. The tornadoes affected 39 counties within a strip some 150 miles wide extending from north to south through the central part of the State.

The first storm (47) was the most severe. It touched ground 5 miles southwest of Hardinsburg (Breckinridge County) at 3:40 p.m. CDT and 30 minutes later slammed into Brandenburg (Meade County). This tornado, which had an intensity rating of F5 on the Fujita scale and a path 500 yards wide where it tore through Brandenburg, killed 31, including a number of children who apparently were playing outside after school.

Within an hour of the Brandenburg death and destruction, five other tornadoes (43, 48, 51, 52, and 59) touched down at locations ranging from Louisville (48) and Boone County (43) in the north to Simpson County (59) near the Tennessee border. The pattern of rapid development farther south and east, with individual tornadoes moving rapidly northeastward, continued into the evening hours. Tornado activity ended in the north-central part of Kentucky by 7:00 p.m. CDT. From then until midnight, activity was concentrated in the south-central part of the State.

The Louisville tornado (48) touched down at 4:37 p.m. CDT one-quarter mile north of Standi ford Field. It was witnessed by National Weather Service employees at the Weather Service Forecast Office. This storm was on or close to the ground as it traveled through 10 miles of residential property in the metropolitan area. It widened and increased in intensity as it moved northeastward. In the eastern 3 to 4 miles of the metropolitan area its maximum intensity was F4. Three deaths were attributed directly to the tornado. Three others were reported killed by heart attacks. A total of 225 injuries were reported in Louisville and Jefferson County.

Pulaski County, in south-central Kentucky, was struck by three separate tornadoes during the evening. The first of these (74) touched down near Mt. Victory at 7:55 p.m. CDT and moved into Rockcastle County before lifting. This storm killed 6 and injured 30 in Pulaski County. One death and 10 injuries were reported in Rockcastle County. The second tornado (73) moved into southern Pulaski County shortly after 9:00 p.m. after killing 2 and injuring 16 in eastern Wayne County. The storm hit Alpine at 9:2O p.m. CDT and caused 29 injuries in Pulaski County. The County apparently was struck by Kentucky's final tornado of the outbreak (64) between 11:30 p.m. and midnight, as the storm moved from Piney Grove Church near the Russell County line through Nancy and Bobtown to Level Green (in Rockcastle County).

Killer storms also were reported in Boyle, Clinton, Franklin, Hardin, Madison, Nelson, Simpson, and Warren Counties.

For more information contact Curtis Carey at (817) 978-4613 ext. 140.