April 3 marks the 35th anniversary of the super outbreak of tornados that killed more than 300 people in the U.S. The twisters claimed the lives of more than 70 people in Kentucky, with a death toll of 31 in the Ohio River town of Brandenburg.
WAVE television meteorologist Tom Wills was on duty when the severe weather struck the Louisville area on the afternoon of April 3rd, 1974. He says it was an extraordinarily powerful storm system.
“There have been large tornado outbreaks since, but nothing at all really compares to the magnitude. The numbers—we were just getting into the infancy of the rating system for tornados, the F1s, twos, threes, fours and fives—the numbers of threes, fours and fives, were just phenomonal, percentage-wise, to the whole outbreak of tornados,” Wills said on WFPL’s State of Affairs program.
The storms left widespread damage across the Louisville area.
Wills says the outbreak spurred improvements to the city’s severe weather alert system.
(Photo of damage in the Louisville suburb of Northfield courtesy of the National Weather Service)