The first tornado photographed in the United States was on April 26th, 1884. A farmer in Kansas who happened to have a camera, which was pretty rare at the time, saw the funnel cloud touch down near the town of Garnett, Kansas. The photograph has been enhanced over the years but seems to be authentic. A.A. Adams knew the photograph would have some worth so he started marketing it.
[MOBILE/APP USERS: Click here to see the image of the Garnett, Kansas Tornado]
Only about four months later, another photographer in the Dakota Territory got a photo of a much more dramatic tornado and claimed his was the first photograph of a tornado. That tornado photo, surely enhanced, is also shown. It’s the one with the three funnels. And many experts have said this is actually the first photo of a tornado.
[MOBILE/APP USERS: Click here to see photo of 1884 tornado in the Dakota Territory]
In any event, it leads us to this: what is quite possibly the earliest photo of a tornado in Arizona. Since they’re so rare, the first photo wasn’t taken until August 27, 1964, when a tornado hit San Xavier Del Bac and killed two people. The photo was taken from downtown Tucson by Jay Taylor, who worked in advertising.
[MOBILE/APP USERS: Click here to see photo by Jay Taylor]
There are also several photos of damage from that tornado.
Arizona, as a whole, averages 1 or 2 confirmed tornado touchdowns each year but most of the tornadoes aren’t very strong. Besides the mother and daughter who were killed in the San Xavier tornado, there’s been only one other death in Arizona blamed on a tornado. It occurred in June of 1974 when a tornado hit a mobile home park near Tucson.