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The Super Outbreak of ’74 | Mr. Tornado | American Experience | PBS

In April 1974, a super outbreak of tornadoes cut across the country, leaving devastation and clues for future tornado preparedness.

Learn more about MR. TORNADO, including where to watch the documentary:

The Super Outbreak of 1974 was the most intense tornado outbreak on record, tearing a vicious path of destruction across thirteen states, generating 148 tornadoes from Alabama to Ontario, damaging thousands of homes, and killing more than 300 people. Meteorologist Tetsuya Theodore “Ted” Fujita spent ten months studying the outbreak’s aftermath in the most extensive aerial tornado study ever conducted, and through detailed mapping and leaps of scientific imagination, made a series of meteorological breakthroughs.

His discovery of “microbursts,” sudden high wind patterns that could cause airplanes to drop from the sky without warning, transformed aviation safety and saved untold numbers of lives. Mr. Tornado is the remarkable story of the man whose groundbreaking work in research and applied science saved thousands of lives and helped Americans prepare for and respond to dangerous weather phenomena.