El Dorado survivors remember ‘Wrong Way Tornado’ 63 years later

Kansas

EL DORADO (KSNT) — Sixty-three years ago yesterday, a massive tornado tore through El Dorado. The F-4 twister was on the ground for eight miles and was 300 yards wide.

Leroy Burton of El Dorado was 9 years old during the tornado.

“He [dad] said, if it ever stops moving, you know it’s coming right at you. And at about that time, it stopped moving. We went out the backdoor and ran like hell to the storm shelter.”

Stephen Sheridan of El Dorado was only 1 year old during the tornado, but it nearly took his life.

“She [mom] said she went and picked me up out of my baby bed, and she said not 10 minutes later a 2×4 came through the window.”

Image courtesy of Butler County Historical Society

On Thursday, the tornado’s survivors and relatives remembered the 13 El Dorado residents killed in the storm. In 2007, the town built a memorial for the victims in Graham Park.

Many more lives were saved due to a new piece of technology in Wichita being implemented for the first time ever, a mobile doppler radar.

“It was another tornado in the path to lead us to the technology we have right now,” explained KSN chief meteorologist Lisa Teachman, “Being able to analyze doppler radar, the things we have learned from it, the technology and how that has improved.”

Many survivors and residents in El Dorado call this twister, the “Wrong Way Tornado” because, unlike a typical tornado that travels to the northeast, this one traveled to the southwest, directly into El Dorado.

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