Weather events that changed American history

Dear Tom,
I recall years ago watching a program about weather events that changed American history. Mentioned in the program was a tornado that could have changed the course of music, but I have forgotten what that was about. Can you provide any details?

Robert Utzinger
Dear Robert,
Indeed we can. At 8:55 p.m. on April 5, 1936, a devastating F5 tornado tore through Tupelo, Miss. With 216 deaths and 2,000 injuries, it stands as the fourth-worst tornado in the U.S. The tornado missed Tupelo’s downtown area but ravaged residential sections, and it is likely the number of deaths and injuries was significantly higher because of incomplete and hasty tabulations in the wake of the storm. However, one of the survivors of that storm was an infant named Elvis Aaron Presley.

Major-league warm-up in store for city

Chicagoans for the most part have shivered through a chilly spring with only a handful of mild days in the 60s, but a dramatic warm-up is on the way and should boost the mercury to unseasonably warm levels later this week, possibly threatening some record highs. After a seasonably cool start to the week Monday, readings will jump to 60 Tuesday then rocket into the 70s on Wednesday for the first time this year. But April 1 promises to take the warm-weather honors as the mercury could reach 80 degrees as gusty southwest winds deliver the warm air all the way to the lakefront. If the 80-degree high verifies it would be the city’s first since last Sept. 15 and threaten the 82-degree April 1 record maximum established in 1946. Typically the city’s first 80 does not occur until about April 22.

Twisters rip North Carolina
Several tornadoes hit portions of central North Carolina Sunday evening, causing several injuries and damage to more than 20 homes in the High Point area. Other twisters were reported near Thomasville, Lexington and Gaston with damage to mobile homes. Earlier in the afternoon another tornado was reported in east-central Florida near Melbourne.

Palm Sunday tornado outbreak of 1965

Dear Tom,
My parents told me about a major tornado outbreak that took place on Palm Sunday in the 1960s. When and where did it occur?

Heidi Larkin

Dear Heidi,
Severe weather is no stranger to Palm Sunday with its March or April occurrence during the spring storm season. Your parents were referring to the outbreak of tornadoes that took place on April 11, 1965. Nearly 50 confirmed twisters struck areas from eastern Iowa to central Ohio killing 271 people, injuring almost 3,500 and causing more than $250 million of property damage. Six fatalities and 74 injuries were recorded in the Chicago area when an F4 twister tore up an 11-mile-long stretch from Crystal Lake to Wauconda. Five of the fatalities were in southeast Crystal Lake where 45 homes were demolished. The sixth death was at Island Lake where the twister destroyed or damaged four blocks of homes.

Sunday chill, but warmer days ahead

With the exception of a few days with temperatures in the lower and
middle 60s, The spring 2010 has been a chilly one in the Chicago area.
The season’s highest reading thus far has been only 65 degrees, on
March 19. However, big changes lie just ahead. By mid week, a powerful
surge of southerly winds sends temperatures soaring to the highest
levels in four and one-half months, reaching into the lower 70s by
Wednesday and, with luck, approaching 80 degrees on Friday. Chicagoans
last experienced 70-degree warmth on Nov. 7, when the mercury peaked at
71. Before the warm-up, though, we’ll have to endure two more chilly
days. Sunday will feel especially cold, with stiff northeast winds
adding to the discomfort of morning rain and temperatures struggling to
get into the 40s. Winds subside, sunshine returns and temperatures
moderate a little on Monday.