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Tri-State Tornado

From Academic Kids

The Tri-State Tornado of March 18, 1925, crossed from southeastern Missouri, through Illinois, and into southwestern Indiana, and was the deadliest tornado in U.S. history. With 695 confirmed deaths, the storm killed more than twice as many as the second deadliest, the 1840 Great Natchez Tornado. The 219 mile track left by the tornado was the longest ever recorded in the United States.

The funnel cloud was first sighted around 1:00 p.m., March 18, northwest of Ellington, Missouri. The tornado sped to the northeast, killing two and causing $500,000 of damage to Annapolis and the mining town of Leadanna. In Bollinger County, 32 children were injured when two schools were damaged. Eleven died altogether in Missouri.

The tornado crossed the Mississippi River and into southern Illinois, hitting the town of Gorham, Illinois, at 2:30 p.m., killing 34. Continuing to the northeast at an average speed of 60 miles per hour, the tornado cut a swath almost a mile wide through Murphysboro, De Soto, Hurst-Bush, and West Frankfort. Within 40 minutes, 541 lives were lost and 1,423 were seriously injured. The village of Parrish was completely destroyed, killing 22. The tornado proceeded through Hamilton and White Counties, claiming 65 more residents.

Crossing the Wabash River into Indiana, the tornado struck Princeton and travelled ten more miles to the northeast before finally dissipating. In Indiana, 71 perished. In all, 695 died, mostly in Illinois. Total damage was estimated at $16.5 million, with the majority in and around Murphysboro.

In addition to the dead and injured, thousands were left without shelter or food. Looting and theft, particularly from the dead, were reported.

Was the Tri-State more than one tornado?

Long-lived tornados like the Tri-State are often created by a cyclical supercell thunderstorm, composed of a series of different supercells. Therefore some meteorologists suggest that the Tri-State tornado was actually several associated tornados, like the 1947 Glazier-Higgins-Woodward Tornadoes. The huge, nearly mile-wide funnel reported by eyewitnesses may have resulted from the combination of several smaller twisters.

See also: List of tornadoes and tornado outbreaks

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