A rare and violent F-5 tornado outbreak in Kentucky history

Anita Durairaj

The Fujita scale rates tornado intensity based on the damage it inflicts upon the ground. The scale runs from F-0 to F-5 and covers all possible levels of tornado damage as well as the estimated wind speeds accompanying the tornado.

In the Fujita scale, F-0 represents the lightest damage while F-5 represents "incredible damage" with wind speeds of 261 -318 mph. (The Fujita scale has been modified to a new version called the Enhanced Fujita scale but for the purposes of this article, the F-0 to F-5 nomenclature will suffice.)

F-5 tornadoes are classified as the most violent and they also rarely occur.

In Kentucky's history of tornadoes, there have only been a few instances where F-5 tornadoes were recorded.

The most significant incident was during the 1974 Super Outbreak. This incident is also the most violent tornado outbreak in U.S. history. The tornado outbreak took place from April 3, - April 4, 1974. A total of 148 tornadoes were confirmed in 13 U.S. states and a Canadian province. In addition, there were 30 F-4 to F-5 tornadoes recorded.

Twenty-one tornadoes touched down in Kentucky. F-5 tornadoes touched down in Hardinsburg, Brandenburg, and Boone County. The tornado caused 31 deaths in Brandenburg.

The destruction from the tornadoes resulted in homes being swept away and vehicles thrown and stripped down to their frames. Trees, shrubs, and grass were scoured and uprooted.

The 1974 Super Outbreak resulted in the deaths of nearly 80 people in Kentucky as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

Since the 1974 Super Outbreak, there have been no other F-5 tornadoes recorded in Kentucky.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.


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