The 1970 tornado occurred on May 11. It is the most recent F5 tornado to have struck a central business district of a large city. It completely wiped out the Guadalupe Neighborhood. On the morning of May 11, 1970, the Severe Local Storms unit issued an outlook for isolated thunderstorms. Later in the afternoon, the forecast was upgraded to severe. Conditions deteriorated through the day and at 7:50 p.m. the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Lubbock, Crosby and Floyd counties. An off-duty Lubbock police officer spotted a funnel cloud on the east-side and grapefruit size hail was reported about 8:10 pm. There were two tornadoes –the first touched down 7 miles south of the airport near (then) Quirt Avenue and Broadway.
The second tornado touched down near the campus of Texas Tech, snapped light poles at Jones Stadium, and then carved a two-mile path of destruction in the heart of the city – Downtown.
At 9:46 p.m., power failed at the Lubbock Civil Defense headquarters and the local weather bureau lost power and its personnel took shelter. Lubbock was devastated.
After the storm passed, Mayor Jim Granberry and Police Chief J.T. Alley, along with the City Manager Bill Blackwell, and numerous other city staff began to manage the disaster. As it happened, Lubbock had participated in a national pilot project for emergency operations since November 1969. Lubbock had a plan, had run drills and city personnel and elected officials knew how to respond. Mayor Granberry knew the priority was rescuing and caring for any survivors, ensuring the safety of citizens and getting Lubbock back on its feet. To do this final step, he assigned the young Tom Martin to manage a Citizens Commission to assess damage and begin to make recommendations on economic recovery.