The news media reported that the devastating tornadoes that hit the Midwest and South were the worst in a quarter century. In the 2000 Farmers’ Almanac we ran an article titled100 Most Memorable Weather Events of the past century. Growing up I remember a number of tornadoes and seeing the destruction it left in its wake. Here are the tornadoes that made that 100 events list (more than I thought):
1908 April 24 Tornado swarm – Killed 155 in Ms. and 37 in Alabama; greatest loss near Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
1925 March 18 The Great Tri-state Tornado – Mo., Ill. and Ind: worst US tornado disaster with 695695 deaths including 234 at Murfreesboro, Tn and 126 at West Frankfort, Il; seven other tornadoes hit the same day raising the total to 792.
1932 March 21 Alabama Tornadoes – a series of devastating tornadoes killed 269, injured 1,874 and caused $5 million in damages.
1936 April 6 Gainesville (Ga) Tornado 203 killed, 934 injured, $13 million damage.
1947 April 9 Southern Plains Tri-state Tornado – Tracked 221 miles from Texas through Oklahoma to Kansas; 169 killed, 980 injured, damage at $9.7 million; Woodward, Ok had 101 dead.
1953 June 8 Flint, Michigan Tornado 116 killed.
1953 June 9 Worcester County (Ma) Tornado – East’s most deadly tornado, 90 victims, property damage at $53 million, then a record high. Some consideration had been given to the possibility of a tornado but it was felt that it “couldn’t happen here”.
1965 April 11 Palm Sunday Tornadoes 37 funnels descended in Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio; 271 killed; 3,000 injured; damage in excess of $500 million.
1966 March 3 Jackson, Mississippi Tornado – 54 killed.
1974 April 3 Super Tornado Tornado Outbreak – 148 tornadoes in 12 states; 309 fatalities, 5,300 injuries: Alabama, Kentucky and Ohio hardest hit; Xenia, Ohio devastated.
These ten tornado events made our list of most memorable during the last century. Blizzards and hurricanes get more play in the press. They are large and move slowly and plenty of warning issued. Tornadoes are quick and lethal many times coming in the dead of the night. I remember the 1974 tornadoes and still have pictures of Xenia etched in my mind. The entire community was leveled. So, I goggled Xenia and see that it is a warm and vibrant community of 25,000 today. It is never easy but we wish all injured or damaged by tornadoes this week a quick and complete recovery.
One last things. In our outlook for 2008, we mention “Spring looks cool and somewhat wet for many areas. Across Tornado Alley in the nation’s heartland, 2008 should be an unusually active season“. As you will note above, most tornadoes occurred in March – June. A February storm of this magnitude was unexpected to say the least.