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Thirty two years ago yesterday, on April 2, 1982, a significant severe weather outbreak swept through the area and spawned seventeen identified tornadoes in three states. The outbreak stretched from Texas to Mississippi and Illinois, but southern Oklahoma, northeast Texas and southwestern Arkansas were the hardest hit areas.
One of those tornadoes made its way through Paris, devastating the small town and claiming the lives of eleven people. Thousands were left homeless and many businesses were destroyed.
The tornado carved a 200-300 yard wide path through north Paris, with the majority of homes receiving EF2* to EF3 damage, although a handful received EF4 damage. (*The ‘EF’ scale is based on damage, with EF2 suggesting wind speeds from 113-157 mph, EF3 from 158-206 mph and EF4 from 207-260 mph.)
According to the National Weather Service, the damage toll from the twister was estimated at $50 million in 1982, making it one of the most significant tornadoes in Texas history.
As destructive and disheartening as it was, the tornado did not destroy the spirit of Paris — which followed the tornado with resilience — needed to rebuild the city.
As we memorialize that day and remember those that were lost, we should also prepare for the upcoming storm season. Northeast Texas is located in what a lot of people call ‘tornado alley’, and as Spring approaches, thunderstorms will certainly start to occur more frequently.
April averages around 158 tornadoes each year, according to meteorologists with The Weather Channel (based on a 30-year average through 2011). This number significantly rises to an average of 258 tornadoes in May.
eParisExtra.com will monitor severe weather and always alert the public of any imminent danger or warnings that are issued for our area. If you are not already, sign up to our eParisExtra Text Alert system by emailing your cell phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your number will only be used for text alert purposes.
By Josh Allen, eParisExtra