The 1966 Jackson (MS) F5 Tornado

| March 2, 2007 @ 11:26 pm | 15 Replies

On Thursday, March 3, 1966, powerful low pressure was over South Dakota. A strong cold front stretched south from the low into Texas. A warm front was moving north from the Gulf of Mexico. Showers were reported over parts of Mississippi and Alabama. Morning temperatures were in the 50s, as were the dewpoints.

About 4 p.m., a tornado touched down near Learned in Hinds County, Mississippi. The twister moved east northeast toward the City of Jackson. The extremely violent F5 tornado ripped through the southern part of the city. Twelve people were killed and one hundred injured as the Candlestick Park shopping center, which was virtually destroyed. Cars were thrown more than one half mile and the pavement was scoured from roads.

Over one thousand homes were damaged and nineteen killed in Hinds County, mostly in Jackson. The storm then passed into Rankin County, where six people died. An industrial complex near Flowood was heavily damaged.

The storm turned demonic over Scott County. Here the storm was at its destructive worst. Twenty six died in rural Scott County and six died after it passed into Leake County.Total storm related fatalities were fifty seven with 504 injured along the seventy five mile path. Damage was set at $18 million. The tornado ranks as the sixth deadliest in Mississippi history.


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Bill Murray is the President of The Weather Factory. He is the site's official weather historian and a weekend forecaster. He also anchors the site's severe weather coverage. Bill Murray is the proud holder of National Weather Association Digital Seal #0001 @wxhistorian

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  1. Joe says:

    I remember it well. I was living 30 miles away and our local ‘React’ Rescue responded that evening.

  2. Victor says:

    I still remember that afternoon. We lived a half-mile away from Candlestick Park in the Oak Forest community. I was eight at the time, and what struck me most at the time was the boiling, towering thunderstorm cloud spitting continuous lighting, well defined by the sun shining through the clear air west of the storm as it moved by. Only later as we were finally able to ride our bicycles into the fringes of the area were we to realize the true magnitude of the damage and the horror of that afternoon.

  3. Becky says:

    The only warning that we had was the TV going out. I was 9 years old and my sisters, brother and I had just gotton home from school when my mother looked out the window and questioned what was all of the debris in the air, my dad screamed Tornado, open the windows! We scattered trying to open the windows (that was what we were told to do in those days) and the tornado shattered the windows for us. The tornado then skipped over into the field across from us and from there, down Cooper Road where it tore apart Candlestick Park. It was amazing to see pine straw stuck in the trunks of trees, a bridge ripped up from the road, so sad to see so much death and destruction.

  4. Pamela Wages Anderson says:

    My father was off on Wednesdays, that is how I remember the exact day of the week. At 3:15 Whitten Junior High School let out for the day, I was twelve and in the seventh grade, my father was there in his robin’s egg blue and white truck to pick me up. The sun was out but there were clouds. When I got home I settled in to watch the television show ‘Where The Action Is’ with my then favorite group Paul Revere and the Raiders, it had just started at 3:30 p.m. when the electricity went off. I yelled out, “What happened to the T.V.?” Noticing that the sky had become ominously dark and a strange sound like a thousand locomotives pulsed through the air. I stood up and opened the back door that faced west, the sky was a weird color of yellow and black, and the noise I had never heard before was pounding out an ungodly churning heavy sound. My father came running into the house and literally pushed us to the closet, “Put on your raincoats NOW!” he frantically pleaded. Grasping us (my younger sister and I) to him we huddled in the carport watching with awe as the neighborhood hang out, the Pak A Sak, exploded into what seemed like a million pieces when the tornado hit Mr. Pusche’s store. Wind, as I had never experienced it, blew through bringing trash, sand, dirt, limbs, leaves and clothing whirling in what seemed like a mile high vortex of horror. Just as soon as it had passed we jumped into my father’s truck and headed west on Woody drive, turning left (south) onto Oak Forest and stopped dead in our tracks as the devastation became glaringly clear. The Mississippi Power and Light substation was shredded and mangled, the bridge over the creek which ran down beside it was not there, the Dog N Suds was gone, the grocery store was gone, the slot car racing place was gone, the Texaco gas station was gone, houses were flipped over or just totally absent, cars were strewn about as if a giant hand had slapped them into a messy pile, people were screaming, blood gushing from cuts, one man limped towards us, he yelled across the cavernous gap where the brige had been to my father to call for help, his head gushing blood through a no longer white man’s hankerchief. It was like a bomb had gone off and the destruction was numbing us now into a state of shock. My sister and I both started crying and pleaded with our father to take us to the stable where our horses were. We back tracked and went down Longwood we could hear sirens of an ambulance and firetrucks. We got back onto Cooper road, we passed the nursing home where miraculously it had been skipped over, my father mumbled something like “Thanks be to God.” It was a path of absolute devastation I cannot erase from my memory. I would later find out my “heart throb” the sweet boy I had a school girl crush on, was killed. He was just a few years older and a student at Forest Hill, a school not far from Candlestick Park where he worked as a bag boy in the grocery store. We arrived at the stables on McCluer Road, found our horses alive and well and the barn intact. The tornado had set down east of it so we all cried tears of relief. We came back home, there was still no electricity. My neighbor came over and told us her mother was letting them eat all the ice cream and if we wanted any to get over there now. My father walked us over and asked Lucille if he could leave us with her until my mother got home from work as he was heading back down to Candlestick to help any way that he could. We stayed with Ora Fay and Donna, eating ice cream sandwiches and listening to Miz Lucille, their mother, tell us about tornados. My mother came over shortly and got us, she was crying as she didn’t know what to expect when driving from where she worked downtown, seeing how bad it was and so close to home. We hugged her and she hugged us back, we were so glad to see one another and she so grateful we weren’t hurt and still had a home. My sister and I began talking excitedly and gesticulating wildly trying to convey the magnitude of the sights we had seen and how loud it was and how horrible it was, what all we had seen at Candlestick as well as east and west, all down Cooper Road towards Terry Road. Naming off friends or people we knew whose homes were destroyed. Lamont’s house was upside down and on and on we rattled off the scenes of utter destruction. It was unnerving, it was traumatic and it was the first of many deadly storms I would live through. The next was a whopper by the name of Camille in August of 1969 in Gulfport.

  5. lzgwc says:

    shoulders and that friendly face which has for so many years pored
    little that out of sheer obstinacy I become goodhumored again

  6. yoeab says:

    orchestra of Nature whose vast theatre is again opened though the
    hintai school*
    As the day was closing they sat down on the terrace of

  7. Marianne Johnson says:

    My family survived a direct hit. We had just moved from Indiana to my grandparents home/farm off of Siwell Rd across from Forest Hills school. My parents and my brother were goint to live with my grandparents and start a new in Jackson. My grandparents were the Fillingames. SB and Hattie. They owned the Tomato Business that supplied produce to stores and restaurants on Terry Rd. Anyway less than 48 hours of arriving the tornado hit my grandparents home. My grandfather was traveling for work and my grandmother was at her office. Her car would not start and my dad left to get her. Within 5 minutes of leaving the tornado hit. The only thing remaining of the home was the slab. Complete destruction. I was eight months old, my brother two. A family found us all and loaded us into the back of a truck. They thought my mother was dead. My face was deeply cut and the mud that I was found in packed in the cut and saved my life from bleeding to death. My brother had a broken arm and a skull fracture. My Mom received the worst. Not sure what hit her head but she was unconcious and went into a coma. She awoke approx 45 days later and had to learn everything over again. How to walk,talk, everything. It was a long road back. While we were and are very blessed to all have lived, the events and aftermath of the tornado forever changed the course of our lives. My mothers long recovery, the lasting effects of a severe head injury, losing everything we have and my grandparents losing everything they had. I would love to see any pictures of the actual tornado if anyone has any. You can contact me at I have some of the debris of the land our farm was on and of where we were found some good distance away.

    Thought someone would be interested in another personal aspect of this tornado.


  8. Pat Buchanan says:

    I was four years old at the time, so I don’t remember much. We lived at 3218 Corey Dr., @ five blocks from Candlestick. My father and brother headed to Candlestick after the weather passed to help look for survivors.
    WJTV did a piece on the aniversary Wed. night. They showed some archived footage from the morning of March 4. My father was on the video! I didn’t blink for five minutes, or so it seemed. He died in 1989. Since Wed. I have been calling and emailing WJTV to try to obtain a copy of said footage. So far no response. It would be priceless to my fourteen year old daughter, she never knew him.
    Wish me luck
    Pat Buchanan

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  10. Miley E. Parrish says:

    I was a freshman at Mississippi College. I was in Candlestick Shopping center when it hit. I was in the middle of the shopping center racing slot cars. I first ran out into the shopping center’s parking lot and laid down amidst the cars. Not feeing safe there, I got up and ran into the grocery store at the South end of the shopping center yelling “tornado”. I laid down next to the wall just as you enter the store and even covered up a young girl (about 12 years old) with my body. Then it hit. I thought I was going to die but didn’t. Only had a cut on my leg. My college friend laid down outside under the plate glass windows of the grocery. He came away with only cuts to his hand. As we helped with the rescue efforts we uncoverd many injured and some who were dead.

    Interestingly enough, my home was destroyed in the Easter flood of 1979 and again in the flood of 1983. When we moved to Charlotte, NC in 1988 our house again was damaged from Hurricane Hugo in 1989. I guess I’m disaster prone.

    It was a day I will never forget as long as I live.

  11. Chris Saindon says:

    There was a poor-quality film of this F5 taken,
    and it was shown on a Weather Channel Special
    on the March 3, 1966 event. Quality aside, it
    showed an absolutely immense wedge that was
    easily 3/4 of a mile wide. It was, at this moment,
    not rain-wrapped and didnt show evidence of multi-
    vortex activity. While I was working at WCFT 33
    back in 1996 and at WXVT in Greenville, MS..I would
    often visit Jackson and, without exception, everyone
    who was alive at that time that I spoke with had a
    story about what they all called “The Candlestick
    Park Tornado.” There is an excellent book written by
    Lorian Hemingway entitled “A World Turned Over: A
    Killer Tornado and the Lives It Changed Forever.”
    VERY well-written non-scientific book with moving
    first-hand accounts. I am at if
    you have any questions on this or any tornado; I’m
    happy to help.

  12. John says:

    I was there, and I survived.

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