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The May 12, 1896, tornado photographed by Thomas Croft in Oklahoma City. DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University
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The deadliest tornado of 19th century captured on a photograph

Tornado investigators consider photography as the primary tool. Careful Photogrammetric analyses of motion pictures and detailed examinations of still photos have given the scientists valuable information about tornadic airflow and structure.
Textbooks, journal articles, and items in the famous newspapers, regularly include some photographs of tornadoes. They usually are received with a lot of curiosity and spread interest in this phenomenon.
In the 19th century, when photography was still developing, a few adopters pointed their glass plate cameras at one of the tornadoes.
With lashing wind, accompanying hail and rain, and electric coolness up in the air, tornadoes are not an easy topic – especially so because they’re so unpredictable and destroy everything on their path.

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A. A. Adams’s photograph of a tornado in Garnett, Kansas on April 26, 1884. Kansas Historical Society
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Photograph of a tornado in Howard, South Dakota, said to be taken August 28, 1884. National Geographic
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Photograph by Clinton Johnson of a tornado in North Dakota, 1895. Library of Congress
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The May 12, 1896, tornado photographed by Thomas Croft in Oklahoma City. University of Tulsa Special Collections and University Archives
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“Oklahoma Cyclone”, 1898. Library of Congress
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Photograph of a tornado in Ponca City, Oklahoma, ca. 1890s. Library of Congress
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A stereoscopic view by D. S. Camp of the aftermath of a tornado in Wallingford, Connecticut on August 9, 1878. New York Public Library