Two apparent tornadic storms tracked through western Kentucky during the afternoon of December 4, 1916.
The first storm began with 1″ hail south of Sebree, then produced 1.8″ hail at Calhoun with tornado funnel visible in the “southwest corner of the storm” at 2:30 pm, according to eyewitnesses. This tornado reached up to 1000′ wide, resulting in “many narrow escapes” reportedly from death & injury. One vivid example comes from near Calhoun. During the warm, windy day, students & teachers were out at recess as the storm approached at a rural township school.
It was reported that the approaching tornado was moving so quickly that just as unsuspecting teachers & students noticed it, there was not enough time to run back to the school. So, they all ran to “a cove” nearby. The school was reportedly demolished. The children & teachers, although shaken, were uninjured.
A second storm produced enough pea to marble hail to cover the ground at Calhoun (another round of hail) at 3 pm & then went on to produce a tornado that tracked 10 miles across northeastern Hopkins & northern Ohio counties. Passing 7 miles north of Hartford at 3:30 pm, multiple structure were destroyed & heavy damage occurred to timber. Three homes were destroyed at Vandetta, in northeastern Hopkins County.
This was all part of an outbreak that was centered in Arkansas, where multiple strong to violent tornadoes killed at least 18 people. 1 person was killed near Shreveport, Louisiana from tornado.
Strong surface low was tracking through southern Canada with a strong cold front slicing to nearly the Gulf Coast. Notice how the surface cold front indicates the upper system had a negative tilt.
It is likely that there was strong diffluence over Arkansas, creating the violent tornado outbreak there. A clear signature of this would be a V-notch flare-up of storms on a modern-day IR satellite.
Below are the December 4-5, 1916 surface maps & a good example of upper jet diffluence. This IR satellite image is during the January 1999 tornado outbreak in Arkansas.