Batesville, AR Tornado, Apr 1973

Batesville ARK tornado 4-20-1973.jpg


Batesville, Ark. -- (AP) -- A wave of tornadoes marched across Arkansas Thursday causing thousands of dollars in property damage, but miraculously there were few injuries and they were considered minor.
A dozen twisters were reported in the state, but the one causing the most damage and most of the injuries ripped through Batesville.
One classroom of Central Elementary School was crushed, but the pupils were away from the room and huddled for protection in a hallway, according to Supt. Leon Gaines. State police said they escaped serious harm.
Five buildings were damaged at Arkansas College in Batesville. Electrical power and telephone service was interrupted when winds blew down utility poles and their lines. Windows were shattered and signs bent and broken. Trees, including some three feet in diameter, were uprooted.
Spots of destruction were scattered across an area about four blocks wide and a mile long at Batesville, starting just past the downtown area and continuing through the college, which sits on a high hill east of the town.
About 15 persons were treated at two Batesville hospitals, mostly for minor cuts due to flying glass.
Maj. Gen. Thomas Phillips, adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard, said Gov. Dale Bumpers had summond 30 guardsmen to duty to prevent looting.
Dr. Joe Murray, 41, dean of students at Arkansas College, said he and College President Dr. Dan West and six other members of the administrative staff were in conference when wind blew out a window in the conference room.
"We went to the front door and saw the trees going down amid a tremendous roar," he said.
"I'd rate it a Class A tornado," he said.
Rep. Bill Alexander, D-Ark., said he had sent a telegram to the Office of Emergency Preparedness and to the Small Business Administration requesting federal disaster aid for the area.
Another tornado destroyed eight homes, a church and a grocery store at England. Several mobile homes and some farm machinery were damaged. Trees were uprooted and power lines were reported down, but no injury was reported.
A tornado was reported about 7:35 p.m. near Whelen Springs southwest of Prescott. First reports indicated that two houses and a church were destroyed.
Another funnel cloud was sighted about 9 p.m. six miles west of West Memphis and an unconfirmed sighting was made about 9:30 p.m. near Sheareville. Trees were down in the areas and windows were blown out. No injury was reported.
Funnel clouds were reported in the air or on the ground Thursday at Jonesboro, Texarkana, Little Rock, Nashville, Northern Garland County, between West Memphis and Marion, about three miles east of Blevins in Hempstead County and in the Almond area north of Concord in Cleburne County.

The Ada Evening News Oklahoma 1973-04-20


Tornado account

I still remember this day vividly. I was in the third grade. Mrs. Ford's class, the Closest portable building to the main building. I remember this day as starting off eerily different. Almost like something was brewing that morning when catching the bus. The air was very still and the sky was a dark grayish-green. The class that day was celebrating Easter. Yes, we could do that back then. Everyone was having a good time. Not long before the tornado, one of the boys turned off the lights for fun. When the tornado came the lights went out again and I think the teacher thought he had done it again. He was about to be in trouble, when we noticed bits of green grass began pelting the door window. Then came the big roar. Freight train coming, sounds about right. We had no warning. I remember us huddling in the corner around and under the teachers desk. One boy cranked a window open by the teachers desk. I remember feeling like the building had risen off the ground, but was sit back down. Thankfully our building was not destroyed like the buildings further away from the main building. After that we were ushered to the main building hall, where it was wet with rain and lots of shaken classmates huddled and waited for our parents to pick us up. My future husband was in one of the portables that got blown away that day. He woke up across the street, but was uninjured. God was watching over a lot of students and teachers that day. I'll have to say I was terrified of any wind blowing for several years after. It could be clear out, but if the wind was blowing hard, I was ready for the storm shelter or our basement. Thankfully I finally grew out of that.

Holy smokes!! I was there..

Holy smokes!! I was there.. I remember running to the Magic Mart store and just getting inside when tornado hit and wiped out front of the store! The glass doors shattered onto my mom's back but she had on a fur coat.. We were very lucky!! A Coke display sent glass flying everywhere

Lisa is correct! I was in

Lisa is correct! I was in that room also. The lights went out and I remember everyone happily yelling a moment before we were hit. I kept my eyes closed and landed in the road that had ran beside the portable structure. My broken pencil was still in my hand. I had scratched by back on the concrete curb as I landed and had a small cut on my ear. Luckily I wasnt seriously hurt.

Tornado April 1973

I was attending East Elementary School over on 19th and Lyon Streets. In 1973 I was in the 1st Grade I remember when Central Elementary School that the students there were sent to the other Elementary schools and we shared Class room space in all the grades from Grade 1 through 6 till the school was rebuilt.

The Tornado also hit Arkansas College Chapel. I lived on Highland Road back then when this all happened Arkansas College was walking distance from where i actually lived in 1973.

1973 Batesville storms

Well, I recall my brother and I heard it going over, sounding like a train. We were on Main Street at the time, inside my dad's store.
Just up the street, up on St. Louis my sister was working in Magic Mart, which was located roughly where the Kroger/Penny's buildings are today.
The tornado, virtually invisible coming up, blew the glass doors in at the Magic Mart.

I was thinking this was in 1972, but I guess, that's right, it was '73.


I was in that tornado as well, in the 4th grade also, and I remember it as well. We were coloring pictures for Easter. Debbie

Central School Tornado

I was in first grade when the tornado struck, and I remember it like it was yesterday. Lisa you are correct we all were in our classrooms, I was in the main building, which was way safer than where you were. We had no warning or time to react. It got pitch outside and seem to be raining sideways. Someone asked our Sub Teacher why it was raining sideways? She was answering by saying it looks that way because the wind was blowing so hard. No more than she had said that the lights went out and all of us standing at the window watched the roof blow off the building. Panic insued and we were standing in water up to our knees. The after mass was chaos. The teachers were lining us up in the breeze way to take a head count when I saw my dad approching like some kind of super hero who come to rescue me, and he did. I didn't tell anyone that I was leaving with him so when my mom came from work to get me no one knew where I was. Finally another student spoke up and said she saw me leave with a man. This account has left me with a fear of storms so bad that I dictate what I'm doing by the weather.

Lisa and Stu, thanks to both

Lisa and Stu, thanks to both of you for your account. I am writing a developmental paper for school and came across this website tying to find additional information on the tornado that had a profound impact on my life. Lisa, you and I may have been in the same mobile classroom because my account of what happened is very similar to yours. Blessings to both of you.

April 1973 Batesville, Arkansas tornado

April 2013 will mark the 40th anniversary of the 1973 tornado. I was a senior at Batesville High School. Our physics teacher was Mrs. Kristianak. She called us to the door when she put out her attendance note because the sky was GREEN. A few minutes later, Coach Buster Johnson came by our class and called for anyone with a pickup truck to come and go with him because Central School had been hit. ---Liz Burns Glenn

Central School Tornado

Well Lisa, I was in Mrs. Case third grade class that morning, and the first thing I remember wondering was Where is the other classroom? Your building was GONE! Glad everyone made it through that day.