This Day in Weather History ~ 2nd May 1920

Devastating F4 Tornado in 1920 Obliterates Peggs, Oklahoma, Claiming 71 Lives

This Day in Weather History ~ 2nd May 1920
Photo by NOAA / Unsplash

An F4 tornado hit Peggs, Oklahoma, on May 2nd, 1920, leaving a trail of destruction and killing 71 people, nearly a third of the town's population.
This tornado, which struck around 7:00 pm local time, was part of a more serious severe weather outbreak in the area. Witnesses described the tornado as a massive, dark funnel that ploughed through the town, demolishing buildings and uprooting trees.

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Peggs, with around 250 people at the time, wasn't equipped to handle such a disaster. Many buildings were made of wood and lacked proper foundations, and no tornado shelters or warning systems were in place. Consequently, many residents were caught off guard and didn't have time to find shelter.

After the tornado, the town was in ruins. Every building had been damaged or destroyed, and the streets were littered with debris and fallen power lines. Amid the chaos, survivors had to pick through the rubble and search for loved ones.

The town's remote location and lack of resources hampered rescue efforts. There were few doctors or nurses nearby, and the nearest hospital was several miles away. Also, the tornado knocked out power and communication lines, making it hard to coordinate relief efforts.

Despite these challenges, the community rallied to help those affected. Volunteers from nearby towns helped with search and rescue, and churches and organizations set up temporary shelters and food stations.
Peggs' tornado reminded us of nature's power and unpredictability.

It served as a catalyst for the development of tornado warning systems and the construction of storm shelters in the years that followed. Today, Peggs and other tornado-prone areas have access to advanced weather forecasting technology and emergency response systems that help mitigate the effects of severe weather.

Even so, the tragedy in Peggs on May 2nd, 1920, reminds us of the importance of preparing and being resilient in the face of extreme weather.