Deadly Tornado Anniversary Remembered In San Angelo
Today, May 11th is an infamous anniversary in San Angelo. It was on this date 69 years ago that one of the most deadly tornados roared through San Angelo.
The tornado reached F4 strength meaning it may have had winds between 166 and 200 miles an hour. This storm severely damaged 15 square blocks of Downtown San Angelo. Along with the deaths and injuries, the 20 mile path of the storm resulted in amazing damage. In all, 519 homes were destroyed, 19 businesses were lost and 150 cars were decimated. The total dollar damage of the storm was 3.4 Million Dollars. That is the equivalent to nearly 30 million dollars in 2022 dollars.
On that same day, a powerful F5 tornado, the strongest on the Fujita Scale tore through Waco This tornado killed 114 people making it the deadliest tornado in Texas, since 1900. The damage in Waco was biblical
News reel footage beamed the damage to theaters all across the nation.
As deadly as the San Angelo Lakeview tornado was, it came so close to being so much worse. The tornado struck between 215p and 3p. In it's path from 17 miles northwest of San Angelo to just east of Armstrong Street, the tornado slammed into Lake View Junior High School.
Principal Mac Snodgrass was getting ready to drive a bus full of children home. The tornadw was right in the path of where he would be driving. Fortunately, he received a call from Superintendent, Jean Burleson, about the possibility of a tornado. Snodgrass' quick action, getting the kids to safety probably saved countless lives.
Students, who were in the school that fateful day, often tell the story of what happened when the storm hit. A 7th Grade student later told reporters that as the storm approached he could hardly breath. Students were instructed to go into the hall. One student barely escaped his desk, when the glass caved in and dust, dirt, sticks and every manner of debris crashed into the classroom and spilled into the hall.
The roof blew off and while there was alot of screaming and desperate crying, the only sound anyone could hear was the wind and rain. Considering that there were 1000 people in the school when the tornado hit, everyone got out alive. There were only a few minor injuries.
Of course, many of the students saved that day went on to have families of their own and grandchildren. All those descendants can thank the quick acting hero teachers and administrators at that school on that fateful day for their very survival.
Every time a thunderstorm roars in the distance, those who've been through a tornado event live in fear that it will happen again. It is never a bad idea to learn what to do to be safe if and when it does happen again.
Anyone who is still around who survived that day surely will never forget it. Let's hope if this ever happens again in San Angelo, we'll have heroic leaders who again will know what to do and save lives.