Mayfield tornado 1-year anniversary: A look back at the deadliest tornado outbreak in Kentucky's history
Severe storms swept through the American heartland, including an EF-4 tornado that carved out a path stretching 165.7 miles across Kentucky.
Entire city blocks, turned to rubble. Homes and businesses, left in shambles. Countless families, heartbroken.
Severe storms swept through the American heartland between Dec. 10-11, 2021 and spawned at least 66 tornadoes.
One of those tornadoes was an EF-4 twister that carved out a path stretching 165.7 miles across Kentucky.
The hardest-hit part of the state was in western Kentucky in Graves County, where the tornado decimated the small town of Mayfield.
"Some days, not many days, but some days, I pull into the parking lot of City Hall – nobody’s there now – and I’ll have about a 2-minute good cry," said Mayfield Mayor Kathy Steward O’Nan during an interview on the six-month anniversary of the tornado.
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The tornado brought 190-mph winds to Mayfield. According to O’Nan, it damaged or destroyed more than 60 businesses in the town of just 10,000 people.
One of the hardest-hit businesses was the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory, one of the town’s largest employers. More than 100 people were working during the night of the tornado, which caused the factory building to collapse. Eight people were killed.
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Another was a dental practice owned by Dr. Wes Mills. His practice of 22 years was completely leveled by the tornado.
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Another Mayfield business damaged by the cyclone was the headquarters of FNB Bank.
Surveillance footage from the night of Dec. 10 showed the bank’s entrance and front windows being blown out, disintegrating into pieces. The debris then became projectiles that destroyed everything nearby.
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Mayfield resident Larry Ryder had to ride out the storm in his car. He was on his way to seek shelter at the local concrete plant but could not arrive at the plant before the tornado struck.
"Man, it happened so quick," Ryder told FOX Weather correspondent Nicole Valdes on the two-month anniversary of the tornado.
The twister that devastated Mayfield is now known as the deadliest and longest-tracked tornado in Kentucky’s history.
It began in Fulton County, located in the far western corner of the Bluegrass State, and then traveled to Muhlenburg County – an astounding 165.7 miles over 19 counties in just 3 hours.
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More than 1,000 homes were lost, and at least 80 people were killed. Most of those fatalities occurred in Graves County, where Mayfield is located.