Deadliest Tornadoes in the U.S.

Below is a listing of the deadliest tornadoes to strike the United States.  It was compiled by Student Volunteer Lindsey Slater and is based on data available at the Storm Prediction Center and other sources on the web.  Notice that these deadliest tornadoes occurred in the 1880s through 1953.   Now - you should be wondering why?   There are several reasons why recent tornadoes haven’t been has deadly.  First, through improved technology, the National Weather Service (NWS) is better able to issue more timely tornado warnings (WSR-88D Doppler radar).  Secondly, the general public is more aware of the danger of tornadoes through improved education and preparedness activities co-sonsered by the NWS and Emergency Managers across the country.  Thirdly, better spotter training over the years resulted in more timely and accurate spotter reports of the initial development of rotation at cloud bases that ultimately were associated with tornado development.  Additionally, the broadcast media is better able to provide timely warning information through improved technology and education.  Last, but not least, over 900 NOAA Weather Radio All Hazard transmitters have been installed across the country since the 1970s.  Weather radios allow people to receive timely warning information directly from the NWS. 





March 18, 1925 “Tri-State” Tornado
Missouri, Illinois, & Indiana
625 Confirmed Deaths
Cost $1.62 billion
Longest tornado duration to date (3.5 hours with a >219 miles destruction path)

April 5-6, 1936 “Tupelo-Gainesville” Outbreak
436+ Deaths
Cost/Damages Unknown
Tupelo (F5) and Gainesville (F4) were 2 separate tornadoes
Part of a major tornado outbreak in SE US (17 tornadoes)

May 6, 1840 “Great Natchez” Tornado
317 Deaths
Cost Unknown

May 27, 1896 “St. Louis - East St. Louis” Tornado
284+ deaths
Cost $3.4 billion – Most Costly tornado in US
Part of a major tornado outbreak in central US (14 tornadoes)

June 8, 1953 “Flint-Worcester” Tornado
247 Deaths combined (Flint – 115, Worcester – 132)
Cost Unknown
Part of a major tornado outbreak (42 Tornadoes)
Way out of “Tornado Alley”, Congress thought the outbreak due to atomic bomb testing

April 9, 1947 “Glazier-Higgins-Woodward” Tornados
Texas, Oklahoma, & Kansas
181 Deaths
Cost Unknown
Similar to the “Tri-State Tornado” 2 decades earlier

April 24, 1908 “Amite-Pine-Purvis” Tornados
Mississippi & Louisiana
143 Deaths
Cost Unknown

June 12, 1899 “New Richmond” Tornado
117 Deaths
Cost $13 million
Began on Lake St. Croix

May 11, 1953 “Waco” Tornado
114 Deaths (tied with Goliad)
Cost $50 million
May have reached F5 Intensity

May 18, 1902 “Goliad” Tornado Outbreak
114 Deaths (tied with Waco)
Cost $50,000
Part of the Texas tornado outbreak (31 total Tornadoes)

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