Texans are all too familiar with severe weather during the spring season, including tornadoes. When tornadoes strike, the damage can be minimal but it can also be disastrous. There is not much we can do but hunker down and hide from these powerful weather phenomena while they pass by us. Unfortunately, there have been many of these storms that have taken many lives across the state. One of the worst was in 1987 when an F4 twister hit the small town of Saragosa, Texas wiping out a fifth of its population.

How a Tornado Forms

Tornadoes are a powerful, rotating mixture of warm and cold air. Most tornadoes form from what's called a supercell. These supercells are far more powerful than a typical thunderstorm. Inside a supercell is a spinning column of air called a vortex. That vortex sucks up the moist, warm air around it and expels cold, dry air toward the ground. This will cause the vortex to go from a horizontal spin to a vertical spin creating a funnel cloud that could eventually touch the ground (britannica.com). This is a rather simple explanation but I think you get the drift.


On a May night in 1987, the area of Saragosa was under a thunderstorm watch. That storm grew to the point of being able to produce a large tornado. A tornado warning was issued about 20 minutes before the twister struck the town and an EAS warning was sent out on both radio and television. Problem was, most of the residents listened to radio stations out of Mexico and didn't hear the warning (kvue.com).

Graduation Ceremony

A preschool graduation was being held that day with 80 people, out of the 180 total population, attending the ceremony. That building took a direct hit. The people were able to shelter inside but it still killed 22 and injured 60. Eight more were killed in another part of town. In total, about 80% of the town was destroyed with 30 dead and 121 injured. It is still considered one of the deadliest tornadoes in Texas history.

10 Deadliest Tornadoes in Texas

Below, you can see the 10 deadliest tornadoes in Texas history, including the Saragosa tornado. The storms below produced large and very destructive funnels that destroyed homes and businesses and killed hundreds. All the information comes from weather.gov with links to various articles and YouTube videos going into more detail about the storm that moved through that area at that time.

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