The deadliest tornado to ever occur in the United States happened 89 years ago today. It killed 695 people.
The second deadliest tornado didn’t kill half as many.
The Tri-State Tornado was a monster storm, traveling on the ground for a continuous 219 miles, an unusually long distance for a tornado. It lasted for three and a half hours, traveling between 60 and 70 mph.
As its name suggests, the storm’s path crossed three states, beginning in Missouri and traveling through Illinois before ending in Indiana.
On top of all the casualties, more than 2,000 people reported injuries, and 15,000 homes were destroyed. More than 19 communities were in the line of the devastating storm, which was approximately three-quarters of a mile wide.
Some witnesses reported seeing up to three funnels on the ground at once.
The Fujita scale wasn’t invented until 1971, so there was no categorization for this tornado until well after it occurred. Most scientists agree this can be categorized as an F-5 once the death toll, the damage, strength and duration of this storm is factored in. This was a monster tornado, the likes of which rarely happen, and its death toll will likely never be matched.
This tornado took place well before radar or satellites. There were no such things as tornado watches or warnings in 1925. And radio was just being invented. Not to mention, the field of meteorology has made leaps and bounds in forecasting since then.
Presently, the Storm Prediction Center and the National Weather Service monitor weather conditions and radar around the clock. Watches are issued hours in advance and warning times for tornadoes are up to about 13 minutes, likely more time than anyone in 1925 had.
Nearly everyone also has access to a cell phone, too. Using the Storm Shield Weather Radio App, a mobile phone may alert users to approaching severe weather in advance, allowing additional time to get to safety.
Follow Storm Shield Meteorologist Jason Meyers via the Storm Shield app on twitter, @StormShieldApp and Facebook. Download the Storm Shield Weather Radio App for your iPhone or Android device and get severe weather alerts wherever you are.