May 11, 1970
6:55 p.m. Lubbock radar detects a moderate thunderstorm about 5 miles south of the City of Lubbock.
7:05 p.m. Alan Johnson at the Weather Bureau calls to notify Civil Defense Director Bill Payne of the severe thunderstorm warning that is about to be issued. Payne returns to City Hall and begins calling city officials as mandated by the city’s Defense Plan.
7:45 p.m. Cornbread & Bean SupperForecasters note the thunderstorm is increasing in intensity and issue a Severe Thunderstorm Warning Bulletin until 9:00 p.m. for Lubbock, Crosby, eastern Hale and Floyd counties. City officials and KFYO radio personnel, many whom had been at the Fire Department’s Cornbread and Bean Supper, begin arriving at the Emergency Operations Center in City Hall and at the KFYO studio across the street.
8:10 p.m. Following reports of golf ball and egg-sized hail, an off-duty policeman reports a funnel cloud (the first tornado) 7 miles south of the airport. Reports of baseball and grapefruit-sized hail continue to come in.
8:30 p.m. The first tornado touches down near Broadway and Quirt Avenue (now Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.).
8:59 p.m. A Tornado Warning Bulletin is issued for persons in Lubbock, western Crosby, southern Floyd, and southern Hale counties until 10:00 p.m.
9:35 p.m. Second tornado touches down near the intersection of 19th Street and University Ave. The power fails in multiple parts of the city, including at the Lubbock Weather Bureau Office (WBO) at the airport.
9:43 p.m. KFYO Announcer Bud Andrews tells residents to take cover.
10:03 p.m. The second tornado passes over the Lubbock WBO.
10:30 p.m. City officials announce the most devastated areas will be sealed off. (See the map of the Tornado's Path)
11:00 p.m. City officials learn the storm knocked out two of the three main power plants and that all power for the city’s water pumping stations is also out.
11:30 p.m. Tornado warnings are officially canceled for all areas as storms decrease to moderate intensity in the Lorenzo area.
May 12, 1970
1:00 a.m. Lubbock Red Cross and Salvation Army workers have opened the Municipal Coliseum as a shelter and supply distribution area. Cots are brought in from Reese Air Force Base and KFYO announcers make appeals to the public to bring food, baby formula, blankets, and other essentials.
Early morning hours Lubbock City Council members hold emergency sessions, which are broadcast on KFYO.
9:30 a.m. HelicopterArmy personnel and federal and state officials begin arriving in Lubbock. City officials take helicopters to survey the damage.
May 13, 1970
President Richard Nixon declares Lubbock a federal disaster area.
May 14, 1970
The City Council requests the Office of Emergency Preparedness to arrange a center for federal agencies to coordinate disaster recovery efforts.
May 15, 1970
The City Council appoints an eleven member Citizens Advisory Commission to study the impact of the tornado on the city, and to make recommendations to the Council on steps needed to make Lubbock a "Better Place to Live." The committee reported back to the Council on May 28.
July 10, 1970
The City Council calls a "Tornado Recovery" bond election for August 8.
August 4, 1970
Lubbock Mayor James H. Granberry receives a letter from President Richard Nixon congratulating the city on the "splendid response of the citizens of your community" in the aftermath of the tornado. (Read President Nixon's Letter to Mayor Granberry)
August 8, 1970
Voters approve a $13.6 Million bond proposal. A Memorial Civic Center ($7.8 M), Central Library ($1.2 M), Phase 1 of the Canyon Lakes Project ($2.8 M), and general parks improvements ($1.8M) were included in the package. (Read City Manager Bill Blackwell's report on the bond proposal)
Fall 1970
The Institute for Disaster Research is created at Texas Tech in response to the tornado. The institute, later renamed the Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, conducted extensive studies of tornado data in the years following the May 1970 Lubbock Tornado. (Wind Science & Engineering Research Center)
February 11, 1971
The City Council sells $7 Million in general obligation bonds approved in the April and August 1970 elections, providing initial funding for renewal projects, including $2.26 Million for Airport expansion. The total bond package also includes bonds for street improvement, drainage and water and sewer projects.
February 19, 1971
Under the city's Neighborhood Development Program members of the City Council and other city officials break ground for the first house to be built in the Guadalupe neighborhood (at 1020 2nd Street) since the May 11 tornado. Mayor Granberry notes that the new home signifies the willingness of the people to build their neighborhood back, and the willingness of the City of Lubbock to help in every way.
March 1971
A Group Alerting System or "Hotline" is installed in the City Emergency Operations Center that can be activated to deliver emergency public information quickly and accurately. This system was developed in response to the loss of communication after the May 1970 tornado.
March 16, 1974
The George and Helen Mahon Library is dedicated at 1306 9th Street. Mahon Library
March 2-13, 1977
Holiday on Ice ShowA ribbon-cutting, dedicatory banquet, and 4 days of public tours marked the Gala Grand Opening of the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center, a living memorial to the 26 tornado victims. Other “Spirit of Lubbock” events include a concert by Waylon Jennings and Jesse Colter, Henry Mancini directing the Lubbock Symphony, and the "Holiday on Ice Show." A memorial service for the 1970 tornado victims is led by area pastors.