Between the 21st and 23rd days of March in 1913, an extensive tornado outbreak spanning numerous states wreaked havoc in many areas. Omaha, Nebraska, was particularly hard-hit. Over 241 deaths were recorded, with injuries also in the hundreds. The tornado did not discriminate; the homes of both rich and poor were targeted. Churches and bars alike were destroyed. Estimates today claim the storm to have been either F4 or F5 in severity.
In perusing the images below, I was struck by the fact that the severity of the storm served to illustrate how much better construction was over a hundred years ago; few modern houses could survive an F4 as well as many of the houses in Omaha did. While many houses were, in fact, reduced to splinters, a good many of them held together fairly well considering the circumstances.
Many publishers and entrepreneurs were quick to document the damage with photographs and publish “souvenier” type books voyeuristically depicting the damage. Here are just a handful of those images as we look back one hundred and ten years to the day… an Easter Sunday.
I always wondered if anyone had ever done an analysis of disaster damage between old and new houses. Usually modern pics of tornado aftermaths in newer neighborhoods are just matchsticks. This is very eye-opening.
No doubt about it; construction quality has diminished over the past century. I suspect (but can’t prove) that many of these houses which held together surprisingly well were built with balloon framing rather than the contemporary method of platform framing. Regardless, things were just more substantial back then!
Agreed, construction was in the whole superior, although there are some things they did that make you scratch your head.
I find it interesting that the Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale used for determining wind speed of a tornado uses the observed damage to determine wind speed. Not sure how long the EF has been in use, but could be interesting to compare tornado severity over the years with changes in construction and materials to see if tornados appear to be getting worse, or if buildings are just displaying more damage and therefore causing what would have once been an EF 2 to now be estimated as an EF3?
Good question! The EF-Scale was introduced in 1971, and a lot has changed in the past half century — including our skies. Tornadoes may well be changing in their nature — along with climate in general. Another factor to take into consideration is the implementation of geoengineering. Dane Wigington of geoengineeringwatch.org does a great job of explaining aspects of the practice which few have even heard of, let alone considered the ramifications of. Here is a video which he published yesterday which examines our current climate chaos. It’s just under an hour in length, but well worth watching (choose full screen option for best viewing):