Tornadoes

Tornadoes


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The Tri-State Tornado

The worst tornado in U.S. history passes through eastern Missouri, southern Illinois, and southern Indiana, killing 695 people, injuring some 13,000 people, and causing $17 million in property damage. Known as the “Tri-State Tornado,” the deadly twister began its northeast track ...read more


5 of the Worst Tornado Disasters in Illinois History

Keep an eye on the skies, Illinois--it's officially tornado season in the Midwest and other tornado-alley states, which usually runs between March and June. But over the past few years, more tornadoes have touched down in Illinois outside of this timespan than during the peak spring season. Sixty-nine percent of reported twisters between 2012-2014 were concentrated within a five-day period, according to the Daily Journal.

The unpredictable nature of these storms makes it harder to forecast and more dangerous for those on the ground. The last three violent tornadoes in Illinois -- classified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as F4 or F5 on the Fujita scale or F-scale -- occurred in the months of November and February, when temperatures normally are too low to produce such storm systems.

  • Nov. 17, 2013 - EF4 touches down in New Minden at 12:04 p.m. leaving two dead and two injured.
  • Nov. 17, 2013 - EF4 touches down in Washington at 10:59 a.m. leaving three dead and 125 injured.
  • Feb. 29, 2012 - EF4 touches down in Harrisburg, Ridgway at 1:34 p.m. leaving eight dead and 95 injured.

Here are five of the worst tornado disasters in Illinois history, according to NOAA:

10. April 19, 1927

  • Locations: Carrollton, Springfield, Riverton, Chestnut, Cornland
  • Casualties: 21 dead, 60 injured
  • Intensity: F4

This was the result of two separate tornadoes. The first one began in Missouri and moved into Illinois near Hardin, and moved across Carrollton before lifting west of Springfield near Loami. Eleven people were killed in Illinois. The second tornado touched down on the southeast side of Springfield and moved northeast, destroying Buffalo Hart and much of Cornland. This tornado killed 10 people.

9. Feb. 19, 1888

On the ground for about 20 miles, this tornado devastated the southeast half of Mount Vernon, damaged or destroyed 300 homes and 50 businesses. Overturned wood stoves ignited many fires.

8. Aug. 28, 1990

  • Locations: Plainfield, Joliet, Crest Hill
  • Casualties: 29 dead, 350 injured
  • Intensity: F5

The worst of this tornado affected the Plainfield and Crest Hill areas, where F5 level damage produced losses around $165 million. Three schools were destroyed (school was not in session at the time), and millions of dollars in damage also occurred to shopping malls and apartment complexes. An overview of the disaster can be found at this link, courtesy of the Chicago NWS.

7. June 3, 1860

Originally called "The Great Tornado of the West," this was later determined to be a complex family of tornadoes. The majority of the 124 overall deaths from these tornadoes occurred in Iowa. The Illinois casualties mostly occurred with a tornado crossing the Mississippi River at Albany, later affecting areas northeast to near Sterling and Dixon. A separate tornado further east killed 8 people. An overview of the disaster can be found at this link, courtesy of the Quad Cities NWS.

6. March 19, 1948

  • Locations: Alton, Bunker Hill, Fosterburg, Gillespie
  • Casualties: 33 dead, 449 injured
  • Intensity: F4

This tornado touched down in the early morning near Alton and moved northeast. The death toll included 19 at Bunker Hill, 9 at Fosterburg, and 5 at Gillespie. The tornado destroyed about half of Fosterburg and 80 percent of Bunker Hill.

Check out the five biggest tornado incidents in Illinois history at Reboot Illinois, including storms that hit Springfield and Chicago and one that injured more than 600 people.


The History Of Tornadoes In Kansas Will Shock You

As Kansans (and essentially the entire Midwest) are aware, tornadoes have been a hot topic the last week:

Since L. Frank Baum penned the story of Kansas’s most infamous (yet fictional) tornado in The Wizard of Oz, the Sunflower State has been known for its large, sometimes deadly storms. Is this reputation justified? Thanks to Tornado History Project, we can take a better look at Kansas tornadoes over the past 65 years and see just how we stack up to other states.

What do these numbers mean? Does Kansas have the most tornadoes of all 50 states? According to the Tornado Project, the answer is no. When it comes to the total number of tornadoes, Kansas comes in at #4 (behind Texas, Oklahoma, and Florida) and again at #5 for annual tornadoes per 10,000 square miles. In terms of deaths per 10,000 square miles and number of killer tornadoes, the Sunflower State doesn’t even make the top 10.

What do you make of these statistics? And how many of these storms do you remember?


Historical Records and Trends

One of the main difficulties with tornado records is that a tornado, or evidence of a tornado must have been observed. Unlike rainfall or temperature, which may be measured by a fixed instrument, tornadoes are short-lived and very unpredictable. If a tornado occurs in a place with few or no people, it is not likely to be documented. Many significant tornadoes may not make it into the historical record since Tornado Alley was very sparsely populated during the 20th century.

Much early work on tornado climatology in the United States was done by John Park Finley in his book Tornadoes, published in 1887. While some of Finley's safety guidelines have since been refuted as dangerous practices, the book remains a seminal work in tornado research. The University of Oklahoma created a PDF copy of the book and made it accessible at John Finley's Tornadoes.

Today, nearly all of the United States is reasonably well populated, or at least covered by NOAA's Doppler weather radars. Even if a tornado is not actually observed, modern damage assessments by National Weather Service personnel can discern if a tornado caused the damage, and if so, how strong the tornado may have been. This disparity between tornado records of the past and current records contributes a great deal of uncertainty regarding questions about the long-term behavior or patterns of tornado occurrence. Improved tornado observation practices have led to an increase in the number of reported weaker tornadoes, and in recent years EF-0 tornadoes have become more prevelant in the total number of reported tornadoes. In addition, even today many smaller tornadoes still may go undocumented in places with low populations or inconsistent communication facilities.

With increased National Doppler radar coverage, increasing population, and greater attention to tornado reporting, there has been an increase in the number of tornado reports over the past several decades. This can create a misleading appearance of an increasing trend in tornado frequency. To better understand the variability and trend in tornado frequency in the United States, the total number of EF-1 and stronger, as well as strong to violent tornadoes (EF-3 to EF-5 category on the Enhanced Fujita scale) can be analyzed. These tornadoes would have likely been reported even during the decades before Doppler radar use became widespread and practices resulted in increasing tornado reports. The bar charts below indicate there has been little trend in the frequency of the stronger tornadoes over the past 55 years.


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Explore Every Tornado Across the United States Since 1980 Through This Interactive Map

Across the United States, signs of spring are emerging, even as cold weather and a snowstorm threatens the Northeast. In most places, spring brings flower buds, balmy temperatures and a renewed green landscape, but in the central and southern United States, it also brings a force of destruction: tornado season.

Related Content

Generally, these dangerous storms run from late winter to mid summer, but the season tends to vary slightly from region to region. A new interactive map from ESRI allows you to explore the history of tornadoes in your own state, region, or even backyard. The map shows every tornado to touch down in the U. S. from 1980 to 2012, and includes details on casualties and where each ranks on the Enhanced Fujita scale – a system scientists have used to rate tornadoes since 1971 (and was updated in 2007). The scale is calculated from the damage that the tornado inflicted and the wind speeds that would have been required to inflict such devastation.

So, why is spring the season of tornadoes? Here’s the highly simplified explanation behind why tornados form: warm, wet air in the lower atmosphere blows under cold, dry air in the upper atmosphere. During the spring, warm air in the jet stream coming off the Gulf of Mexico blows north and hits cold air coming out of the Arctic and off the Rocky Mountains. That year's tornado season varies based on local weather patterns and fluctuations in ocean surface temperatures. For example, warmer Pacific Ocean temperatures in 2013 shifted jet stream winds east toward Missouri and Tennessee, and away from the hotspot of Tornado Alley – from northern Texas to the lower edge of South Dakota.

A time-lapse video of annual tornado maps across the United States from 1980 to 2012. (Video: ESRI)

The United States has seen 21 category five (EF-5) tornadoes, the highest ranking on the Enhanced Fujita scale, since 1980, and eight of those hit the traditional Tornado Alley. But, the high-frequency tornado risk area extends beyond the Great Plains, east to Tennessee and south to Alabama. In terms of the most damaging tornadoes since 1980, an April 27, 2011, EF-4 twister left 1500 injured in central Alabama,and was part of a devastating tornado outbreak in the region over several days. That same year, a tornado ripped through Joplin, Missouri, killing 158 people, injuring 1150, and left $2.8 billion in property damage in its wake. The Joplin twister, an EF-5, was the deadliest tornado since 1950, and the 7th deadliest in U.S. history.

Though the traditional tornado hotspot is Tornado alley, from northern Texas to southern South Dakota, the southeastern U. S. has seen an increasing number of storms in the recent decade, and 2011 was a particularly bad year for the region. (Image: ESRI )

Like the Joplin event, most tornadoes form in extreme thunderstorms called supercells, but ESRI’s map echoes the mantra of meteorologists and wind engineers: tornadoes can form at any time and in any place. By geographical happenstance, the central United States is home to tornado-producing weather patterns, but tornadoes touch down outside the continental U. S., as well. Hawaii saw㺧 tornadoes from 1950 to 2010, and some of these are waterspouts, funnels that either form on land and move to water or form over water and move to land. Even Alaska experiences a rare tornado, if the conditions are right.

For more on tornado science, see NOAA’s Tornado Q&A site compiled by Roger Edwards of the Storm Prediction Center, and for more on tornado preparedness, visit FEMA’s tornado site.


Top 10 Most Devastating Tornadoes in History

Scientifically explained, Tornado is a violently rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the earth and a cumulonimbus cloud. It’s a weather phenomenon that always has a bad ending for the people. A tornado is more likely to form in the United States than in any other country in the world.

There’s even a region that is called Tornado Valley. They form when warm, humid air collides with cold, dry air. The denser cold air is pushed over the warm air, usually producing thunderstorms.

The warm air rises through the colder air, causing an updraft. The updraft will begin to rotate if winds vary sharply in speed or direction. The tornadoes are able to die off when they move over colder ground or when the cumulonimbus clouds above them start to break up.

Here are the most devastating tornadoes/record-holders in history, mostly in America.

1. New Richmond, Wisconsin’s deadliest Tornado, 1899

The state’s worst tornado occurred on June 12, 1899, when the town of New Richmond was almost entirely obliterated. The Milwaukee Journal reported that 500 buildings were destroyed and the only structures of any note still standing where the Catholic and Baptist churches. A large safe, weighing 300 pounds, was caught up and carried for a block. 117 persons were killed in New Richmond and vicinity and 125 injured. The safest place proved to be a cellar, but even there several persons perished.

2. Tri-State Tornado, Missouri Illinois and Indiana, 1925

Tri-State Tornado of 1925, also called the Great Tri-State Tornado, tornado the deadliest in U.S. history, traveled from southeastern Missouri through southern Illinois and into southwestern Indiana on March 18, 1925. The storm completely destroyed a number of towns and caused 695 deaths.

3. Waco Tornado, Texas, 1935

Photo Credit to ustornadoes.com

The Waco tornado was one of only five reported that day, though it’s quite likely there were more than that. The Waco tornado killed 114 people and injured 597. Another of the tornadoes reported on May 11, 1953, was an F4 that struck parts of San Angelo, Texas off to the west of Waco. 13 people were killed there.

4. Flint-Beecher Tornado, Michigan,1953

This was the last tornado to kill over 100 people in a single tornado event anywhere in the United States. On June 8th, 1953, 116 people lost their lives in the Flint-Beecher community, and 844 people suffered injuries. The Flint-Beecher Tornado was just one of 8 tornadoes that occurred in that horrible evening across the eastern portion of the Lower Peninsula. Those other seven tornadoes resulted in an additional 9 deaths, 52 injures, and damage stretching from Alpena to Erie.

5. Palm Sunday Tornado, 1965 (Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa)

Photo Credit to en.wikipedia.org

A series of tornadoes struck the Midwestern region of the US on April 11, 1965. A six-state area of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa was severely damaged by the tornados. Indiana’s death toll was the heaviest, with 141 of the 270 total deaths at least 5,000 other persons were injured, and property damage was estimated at more than $250 million.

6. Super Outbreak, 1974 (148 tornadoes, in 13 U.S states plus the Canadian province of Ontario)

Photo Credit to sawiggins.wordpress.com

The 1974 Super Outbreak was the second-largest tornado outbreak on record for a single 24-hour period, just behind the 2011 Super Outbreak. It was also the most violent tornado outbreak ever recorded. In the United States, tornadoes struck Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and New York. The outbreak caused roughly $843 million (equivalent to $4.58 billion in 2019, with more than $600 million).

7. The Daulatpur-Saturnia Tornado, Bangladesh, 1989 (Deadliest single tornado in world history, took at least 1,300 lives)

Photo Credit to mywindpowersystem.com

The tornado was estimated to have been 1.5km wide and it created a path of death and destruction along an 80km path. 1,300 people lost their lives, 12.000 were injured and 80,000 made homeless. The tornado was part of an outbreak that also saw another 5 people killed and 500 injured in the Narsingdi district, 40km east of Dhaka. This was the deadliest single tornado in history.

8. McConnell Air Force Base Tornado, Kansas, 1991

On April 26, 1991, a large tornado outbreak struck the central United States. The outbreak produced an F5 tornado that heavily damaged the town of Andover, Kansas, as well as numerous less destructive tornadoes throughout the region. The outbreak killed 21 people, 17 of whom were from the Andover tornado with 268 mph (431 km/h) tornadic winds from the Red Rock tornado.

9. Super Tuesday Tornado, 2008 (Missouri, Illinois, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas)

Photo Credit to weather.about.com

The outbreak generated 87 tornadoes over 15 hours from the afternoon of February 5 until the early morning of February 6. The storm system produced several destructive tornadoes in heavily populated areas, most notably in the Memphis metropolitan area, in Jackson, Tennessee, and the northeastern end of the Nashville metropolitan area. This generated a 1.2billion dollar damage with 57 fatalities and 425 injuries.

10. Joplin Tornado, Missouri, 2011 (The most damaging tornado in history/ near $2.8 billion)

Photo Credit to the-reaction.blogspot.com

At least 116 people died in a massive tornado that left a path of destruction nearly a mile wide through the heart of Joplin, Missouri, on Sunday. The cyclone destroyed hundreds of homes and vehicles, as well as a high school and a hospital. The tornado was just the latest in a string of deadly twisters that have killed hundreds of people in recent months, with Tuscaloosa, Ala., still recovering from one that also tore through the center of the city in late April.


Tornadoes - HISTORY

This page lists the date and location of all the tornadoes that have occurred in Oregon from the year 1950. If you are interested in reading about the “worst” tornadoes that have struck Oregon (and all other states), see this page on our site. If you want to find out about specific tornadoes that have occurred since 2012, check out the NCDC Storm Events page.
Move your mouse over the map to see the county name and FIPS number (Federal Information Processing Standard). Click on the county or use the drop-down menu to navigate to your county of interest.
From there you can find data on each county that has had tornadoes since 1950. You will find the tornado ID number, the date, the event number, the time it occurred, the number of deaths and/or injuries caused, the F-Scale or EF-Scale, and the map coordinates. You can even copy the beginning and ending set of map coordinates into Google maps to see the path that the tornado took. If your county is not listed, it has not had a tornado officially listed during this period.


At the second spot is the East Pakistan (now called Bangladesh) Tornado of 1969. An estimated 660 people were killed and a total of 4,000 were injured on April 14, 1969 after a huge tornado struck Dhaka in East Pakistan where most people were living. That same day, another tornado hit Homna Upazila, also in Bangladesh where 223 people perished. That gives a total of 883 deaths, making it the second deadliest tornado to ever happen in history.

The most deadly tornado known to humankind is the April 26, 1989 Daulatpur-Salturia Tornado. Again, these areas are found in Bangladesh. The already drought-affected areas were smacked by another natural disaster. The estimated size of the tornado according to sources was 1 mile wide. In just a matter of minutes, the horrific twister claimed the lives of 1,300 people and left 12,000 others injured. The towns were completely destroyed and 80,000 were left homeless.

The drought that Bangladesh was experiencing for 6 months intensified the atmospheric conditions, which allowed a deadly massive tornado to form.


Tornadoes - HISTORY

This page lists the date and location of all the tornadoes that have occurred in Idaho from the year 1950. If you are interested in reading about the “worst” tornadoes that have struck Idaho(and all other states), see this page on our site. If you want to find out about specific tornadoes that have occurred since 2012, check out the NCDC Storm Events page.
Move your mouse over the map to see the county name and FIPS number (Federal Information Processing Standard). Click on the county or use the drop-down menu to navigate to your county of interest.
From there you can find data on each county that has had tornadoes since 1950. You will find the tornado ID number, the date, the event number, the time it occurred, the number of deaths and/or injuries caused, the F-Scale or EF-Scale, and the map coordinates. You can even copy the beginning and ending set of map coordinates into Google maps to see the path that the tornado took. If your county is not listed, it has not had a tornado officially listed during this period.