1st Photograph of a Tornado

One of the 1st known photographs of a tornado, taken in 1884 by F.N. Robinson
One of the 1st known photographs of a tornado, taken in 1884 by F.N. Robinson

Historical Context

The first photos of tornadoes only emerged in the 1880s and this image by F. N. Robinson is the best known. The image shows the tornado descending from a large storm cloud with two smaller tornadoes growing ominously out either side.

The image of this tornado was taken near Howard, South Dakota and the weather system went on to kill 4-6 people and cause considerable loses to livestock and buildings. The photo was taken with a box camera with an exposure of up to 10 minutes. Robinson later doctored the photo, as was normal then, before selling it as a postcard.

Photo Info


Photographer: F.N. Robinson
Date taken: August 28, 1884
Location taken: Howard, South Dakota, USA

Source: National Weather Service

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  • 1884-08-28 First known photograph of a tornado is made near Howard, South Dakota

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