The United States has seen its fair share of deadly, destructive tornadoes. There was The Great Natchez Tornado of 1840 which touched down on May 6, 1840, which led to 317 fatalities, killing riverboat crews, passengers, and slaves along the Mississippi River. There was The Great St. Louis Tornado of 1896 which hit St. Louis, Missouri on the evening of May 27, one of the largest cities in our young country at the time, killing 255 souls. More recently there was The 2011 Joplin Tornado which caused $2.8 billion of damages, devastating the town of Joplin, Missouri and killing 158 people. Despite the horrific outcomes of these tornadoes, none surpass The Great Tri-State Tornado of 1925.
As Thought Co. notes, “to this day, the 1925 tri-state tornado remains the deadliest tornado in United States weather history. The storm, which is rated as an EF5 equivalent, killed 695 people and injured several thousand. It was part of a March 18, 1925, tornado outbreak that included at least twelve other confirmed tornado touchdowns across the Midwestern and Southern U.S. It traveled across three states—from southeast Missouri, through southern Illinois, and into southwest Indiana.” The storm demolished an estimated 15,000 homes and left Annapolis, Missouri almost 90% destroyed. While it doesn’t stretch back to 1925, the chart below from Russ Lyman gives an overview of Tornados in the US from 1950-2018.