Tornado Severely Damages D.C. in 1927

On November 17th, 1927 a large tornado ripped through the area, destroying over 200 homes in D.C. and 300 structures in Alexandria. Up to 50 people were injured, but we only found one reported death, which was the result of a lightning strike. Damages were estimated at $1 million.

Below is an article that we found in The New York Times, detailing the damages.

A tornado hit the Naval Air Station and the Washington Navy Yard immediately after 2:30 o’clock, wrecking hangars and planes at the former, damaging twenty buildings, including the commandant’s house, a historic building occupied for more than a century, and causing a loss of $300,000 to both naval plants.

The weather instruments in the observatory at the Anacostia Air Station recorded a gale of ninety-two miles an hour during the height of the storm and a drop of 0.46 in the barometer almost instantaneously at 2:31 o’clock, when the fury of the tornado struck.

The tornado appears to have been wholly local, having started in the Potomac River with a waterspout, just below Alexandria. It swept over the latter, five miles south of Washington, a place rich in associations of George Washington; headed across the river to the Naval Air Station, passed directly over the Navy Yard, swept a narrow path to Fifteenth and East Capitol Streets, crossing Benning Road near Eighteenth Street, and did some damage at Hyattsville and Bladensburg, Maryland towns, five miles northeast of the capital.

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Men watching debris being cleaned up at row houses on A St., NE, near 14th St., severely damaged by a tornado on Nov. 17, 1927
Men watching debris being cleaned up at row houses on A St., NE, near 14th St., severely damaged by a tornado on Nov. 17, 1927

Source: Library of Congress

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Row houses at 1216 - 1226 C St. SE, severely damaged by a tornado on Nov. 17, 1927
Row houses at 1216 – 1226 C St. SE, severely damaged by a tornado on Nov. 17, 1927

Source: Library of Congress 

Here are those same row houses today on Google Street View.

Any idea where this photo was taken? My guess is somewhere on Capitol Hill.

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Men standing looking at tree limbs and other debris and high water in the street after a storm
Men standing looking at tree limbs and other debris and high water in the street after a storm

Source: Library of Congress

This one is the scariest of all the images, showing a large building completely destroyed by the tornado.

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Remains of a building damaged by a storm
Remains of a building damaged by a storm

Source: Library of Congress

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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