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Storm Season - May 2, 2013

Q: The first recorded photograph of a tornado was taken - where else - in Kansas… on April 26, 1884. In which Kansas county was it taken?

TornadoAAAdamsDouble KHS
A.A. Adams, Garnett, Kan., photographed this tornado as it passed near Central City, Kan., in 1884. According to a newspaper account in The Garnett Journal, Friday, May 17, 1907, this was the first photograph taken of a tornado. (Photo via Kansas Historical Society /

A: Anderson County (near the town of Garnett)


TornadoAAAdams KHS

The first recorded photograph of a tornado was taken by a farmer in Anderson County in 1884. On April 26, 1884, unique circumstances allowed fruit farmer A.A. Adams to capture the first known photograph of a tornado. Here’s what the Kansas Historical Society has to say about it:

KansasMemoryFor three days in the spring of 1884, the United States Signal Corps (precursor to the National Weather Service) observed a massive storm cell moving into Kansas from Colorado. On April 26, at 5:30 p.m., residents of Garnett witnessed a long, rope-like funnel descend from the western sky near the tiny hamlet of Westphalia. For roughly 30 minutes, it moved on a northeasterly path. The tornado’s slow progress allowed local farmer and amateur photographer A.A. Adams time to assemble his cumbersome box camera and capture the singular image. Positioned near the United Presbyterian Church in Garnett, Adams was standing just 14 miles from the cyclone when he took his famous picture.

The first tornado filmed in the United States was in Corn, Okla., (second tornado filmed in history), on June 8, 1951. The first known tornado captured on film was a waterspout in Cuba in 1933.

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