A Terrifying, Deadly Storm Struck Kansas City In 1957… And No One Saw It Coming

Many Kansas Citians (and those from the other areas affected) remember the 1957 tornado that changed the lives of many people over 60 years ago. Of course, there’s been ice storms and wind damage, but none have compared to the tornado that struck in May 1957. To those that lived through it, it was the worst they’d ever seen, and likely never will.

It was a stormy but otherwise normal day on the 20th of May, 1957. It wouldn’t be long before tragedy struck. Just north of Williamsburg, Kansas, a tornado touched down and began moving. It passed south of Ottawa and Wellsville before crossing the Kansas/Missouri border south of Kansas City. It would then tear through the suburbs of Ruskin Heights and Hickman Mills. Pilots flying near the area reported debris being thrown up to 30,000 feet in the air.

Altogether, it took roughly 15 minutes to kill dozens and damage hundreds of houses. It traveled a total of 71 miles, and to this day is the deadliest tornado in Kansas City area history. Cars were piled in tangled heaps of metal, and witnesses were cowering in corners while winds ripped away buildings. At least 31 people were reported killed and 200 more injured. Many were made homeless, as you can see by the destruction below, in both the photo and video.

Here’s a video detailing the storm, which includes raw footage from the event itself, from YouTube user Flatland.

Can you believe that was our deadliest tornado? Considering what happened in Greensburg, Kansas in 2007, I’d consider us pretty lucky. Have you lived through other dangerous storms in the Kansas City area? Feel free to share with us in the comments below.