How far has weather technology come since a 1959 winter tornado killed 21 people and tore the roof off The Arena?
Just months later, NASA would launch its first weather satellite.
KSDK is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year by looking back at the history of the station and our city. You can take a trip down memory lane all year long with our anniversary content on ksdk.com/75.
1959 tornado: Winter tornado tears through St. Louis
The year was 1959, before the development of modern weather safety tools.
During the early morning hours of Feb. 10, a tornado equivalent to a modern-scale EF-5 touched down and tore through St. Louis.
KSDK news photographers were on the ground and in the air recording the aftermath of the rare wintertime tornado. Buildings were crumbled and part of The Arena roof was ripped off. Years later, we’ve talked with survivors.
“The weather was calm and they didn’t even have that thing predicted. They didn’t have no warnings or nothing,” said Carl Sapp.
The tornado ripped through St. Louis killing 21 people and injuring more than 300 others.
Sapp said he was only 2 years old when the historic tornado touched down. Like many people who survived that storm, they didn’t know about the destruction until the next day.
“Oh man, we were lucky that night. We slept right through it. I’m a sound sleeper, we slept right through it,” Sapp said.
When the sun came up, St. Louisans got to work. A KSDK news crew filmed people shoveling bricks and glass out of the street. Sitting right behind them and the destruction was one of our KSD-TV news vans.
It's hard to say if things would have been different for St. Louis meteorologists, but just one year later NASA would launch the first weather satellite into space and years later Cold War air raid sirens would be used to warn people of imminent tornadoes.
We still see severe weather outbreaks like this today, but we have more time to prepare and better warning systems. Weather supercomputers help us crunch the data to determine if our atmosphere is prime for dangerous tornadoes and our cell phones can receive personalized alerts.
5 at 75: Anniversary celebration
We are continuing to remember the biggest moments in St. Louis history over the last 75 years as 5 On Your Side celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2022. Take a walk back in time with some of the biggest stories from each decade:
Be sure to learn more about our banner show at locations throughout the Bi-state.
Find complete 5 On Your Side anniversary coverage, stories and videos at ksdk.com/75.