Top Ten Most Devastating Tornadoes In American History

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(photo by NOAA)

(photo by NOAA)

(CBS Radio) — On May 20, 2013, a massive tornado swirled through Moore, Oklahoma — leaving a trail of destruction and devastation behind. At least 24 people have been confirmed dead, and close to 2400 homes were caught in the tornado’s path, thus resulting in damage.

A tornado is more likely to form in the United States than in any other country in the world. In any given year, there are around 1200 tornadoes reported in our country. Additionally, people who live in the Midwest are at an increased risk for witnessing a tornado and experiencing the aftermath of a tornado — as the Midwest region of the United States is more likely to have tornadic activity. Every year, people in the Midwest try to prepare for the possibility of a tornado touching ground, especially during tornado season — which is April through June.

(Related Article: Tornado Survival Stories)

The tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma, this past week was categorized as an EF5 tornado. An EF5 tornado is known as a “perfect storm” and is one of the strongest tornadoes to ever touchdown in the United States. While the damage was severe, the loss of life was not as high as what was previously expected from a tornado of this magnitude.

In comparison, have you ever wondered which tornadoes throughout our nation’s history have caused the most devastation, in terms of loss of life?

Below are the top ten most devastating tornadoes in American History:

10. On June 3, 1953, an F5 tornado touched down in Flint, Michigan. The tornado struck down in the evening, when many people were at a local drive-in movie theater. When the storm came in, people panicked  and tried to leave the theater quickly, which resulted in numerous traffic accidents and additional fatalities. In total, 116 people lost their lives that day.

9. On June 12, 1899, an F5 tornado wiped out the village of  New Richmond, Wisconsin. The tornado struck during the first day of the circus, and the village had many tourists in town that day — and many tourists were outside and unable to seek shelter when the tornado touched down. In total, 117 people lost their lives that day.

8. Between April 23 and April 26 of 1908, several tornadoes touched down between the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. The line of severe weather was called the 1908 Dixie tornado outbreak. There were at least 30 confirmed tornadoes as a result of the outbreak, and 143 people lost their lives during the worst tornado during that time-frame, which traveled from Louisiana to Mississippi on April 24, 1908.

7. Exactly two years ago today, an EF5 tornado struck down in Joplin, Missouri, on May 22, 2011. The tornado was nearly a mile wide, and the American Red Cross estimated that at least 25 percent of Joplin had been destroyed. In total, 157 people lost their lives that day.

6. On April 9, 1947, the deadliest tornado in the history of Oklahoma touched down in Woodward, Oklahoma. The F5 tornado was nearly two miles wide, and remained on the ground for around 100 miles before dissipating. Over 180 people lost their lives that day.

5. Between April 5 and April 6 of 1936, 17 tornadoes touched down in the Southeast region of the United States. The line of severe weather was named the 1936 Tupelo–Gainesville tornado outbreak. On April 6, 1936, an F4 tornado roared through downtown Gainesville, Georgia — at around 8:30 a.m. Over 203 people lost their lives that day.

4.  Also during the 1936 Tupelo–Gainesville tornado outbreak: On April 5, 1936, the fourth deadliest tornado in the history of the United States touched down in Tupelo, Mississippi. The F5 twister brought winds of up to 261 miles per hour to the town of Tupelo, and 216 people lost their lives that day.

3. On May 27, 1896, an F4 tornado touched down in St. Louis, Missouri. The tornadic activity was the result of a line of severe weather in the Central region of the United States. To date, this tornado was the most costly tornado in our nation’s history. The St. Louis tornado of 1896 led to $10,000,000 in damage and 255 deaths.

2. On May 7, 1840, a presumed F5 tornado spun through Natchez, Mississippi. It was named the Great Natchez Tornado, and it was nearly a mile in width. It traveled along the Mississippi River, and is the second deadliest tornado ever recorded in the United States. In total, 317 people died as a result of the Great Natchez Tornado.

1. On March 18, 1925, an F5 tornado tore through three states and remained on the ground for 219 miles. It was called the Great Tri-State Tornado and it remains the most powerful and destructive tornado ever recorded — in the world.  In total, close to 700 people in the path of the tornado lost their lives that day, as the tornado moved across Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana.

-QC Writer, CBS Radio

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