May 11, 1953 Waco F5: “Monster From the Skies”

The Texas Collection at Baylor University recently shared some fascinating images on the U.S. Tornado photo group of Waco following the devastating F5 tornado that hit the city on May 11, 1953.

The Waco tornado was one of only five reported that day, though it’s quite likely there were more than that. The Waco tornado killed 114 people and injured 597. Another of the tornadoes reported May 11, 1953 was an F4 that struck parts of San Angelo, Texas off to the west of Waco. 13 people were killed there.

Before and After: The Devastation of the 1953 Waco Tornado

Before and After: The Devastation of the 1953 Waco Tornado

Dr Pepper Bottling Co., 300 S. 5th Street,Waco,Texas, after the 1953 Waco Tornado

Dr Pepper Bottling Co., 300 S. 5th Street,Waco,Texas, after the 1953 Waco Tornado

"Monster From The Skies," Waco Tornado, May 1953

“Monster From The Skies,” Waco Tornado, May 1953

From The Texas Collection flickr page on the publication cover:

Above is the cover of a publication from the General Adjustment Bureau, Inc. On the inside cover the dramatic illustration is described:

“Careful search of Waco has failed to uncover any photographs of the tornado as it approached the city. The explanation of T.E. Caldwell, Superintendent of Schools, Thornton, Texas, who saw the tornado from eight miles outside the city, gives the answer. ‘It was so wide and the rain so heavy, it was impossible for anyone in the city to see the funnel approaching.’ Mr. Caldwell sketched this picture from memory and Staff Artist Dick Boone of the Waco Tribune-Herald prepared the drawing which probably explains the severe and widespread damage.”

Check out their whole series: The Waco Tornado of May 11, 1953: A Selection of Lesser Known Images from After and Before the Storm

All images on this page Courtesy The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

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Defense and foreign policy researcher at a D.C. think tank. Information lead for the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang.

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