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Top Ten Us Killer Tornadoes

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Descriptions of the Top Ten US Killer Tornadoes--#1

#1: The Tri-State Tornado


At About 1:01 PM on March 18, 1925, trees began to snap north-northwest of Ellington, Missouri, and for the next three and a half hours more people would die, more schools would be destroyed, more students and farm owners would be killed, and more deaths would occur in a single city than from any other tornado in U.S. history. Records would be set for speed, path length, and probably for other categories that can't be measured so far in the past. The tornado maintained an exact heading, N 69 degrees E, for 183 of the 219 miles, at an average 62mph, following a slight topographic ridge on which a series of mining towns were built.

These towns were the main targets of the devastating winds. Between Gorham and Murphysboro, the forward speed was a record setting 73mph. No distinct funnel was visible through much of its path, yet for over 100 miles, the path width held uniformly at about three quarters of a mile.

After touching down 3 miles north-northwest of Ellington, Missouri, it killed a farmer. The funnel was very wide, a double tornado, or accompanied by downbursts as it enveloped Annapolis and a mining town called "Leadanna" 2 miles south of Annapolis. Two people were killed and 75 more were injured in that area. Losses in both towns totalled about $500,000. There were no injuries across most of Iron, and all of Madison Counties. The damage track was very wide; damage was F2 in intensity, and this may reflect a break in the tornado path, but with downburst damage connecting the tornado damage tracks, 5 miles south of Fredericktown. Only once more, near Princeton, Indiana, would there even be a minor hint that this event was a tornado or tornado/downburst family. Once out of the Ozark hills and onto the farmland of Bollinger and Perry Counties, the death toll quickly mounted near Lixville, Biehle, and Frohna. One child was killed in a rural wooden school, 5m N of Altenburg, Perry County. At least 32 children were injured in two Bollinger County schools. The event was probably a double tornado for three miles near Biehle. Eleven probably died in Missouri, although some lists have 13 deaths.

In Illinois, the devastation was at its worst. At Gorham, 34 people died as virtually all of the town was destroyed. Over half of the town's population was either killed or injured. Seven of the deaths were at the school. At Murphysboro, there was the largest death toll, within a single city, in US history. The 234 deaths included



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