The United States gets around 1200 recorded tornadoes every year on average. Although only very few of them (about 2%) would be regarded as devastating tornadoes that led to fatalities, but the stronger ones that cut their way through major cities, metropolitan areas and towns caused very serious destruction that will be remembered for years. Tornadoes can occur even without warning resulting in a number of fatalities (deaths) and billions of dollars in damages.
The United States has the most tornadoes of any country, nearly four times more than estimated in all of Europe, with the exception of waterspouts. This can be attributed to the unique geography of the continent. Other areas of the world that have frequent tornadoes include Bangladesh, Netherlands, UK, South Africa, parts of Argentina, Paraguay, and southern Brazil, as well as portions of Europe, Australia and New Zealand, and far eastern Asia. Here is a look at the top 10 deadliest and most devastating tornadoes in US history.
10. FLINT–WORCESTER TORNADOES (JUNE 8, 1953)
In June, 1953, two Tornadoes hit the United States with one occurring in Flint, Michigan on June 8, 1953 and the other occurred in Worcester, Massachusetts on June 9, 1953. These tornadoes are among the most devastating tornadoes in the history of the United States, they were caused by the same storm system that moved eastward across the nation. This led to 116 fatalities making it the 10 most devastating tornado in US history
9. NEW RICHMOND TORNADO (1899)
On June 12th, 1899, one of the deadliest weather events occurred in Wisconsin. The New Richmond tornado struck on a hot summer afternoon, killing 117 and injuring 125 people making it the 9th most devastating tornado in US history. Over US$300,000 ($8,279,000 in today’s dollars) in damage was reported. All but the extreme west end of the town was destroyed by the tornado and subsequent fires that occurred Over 500 buildings were destroyed as a result.
8. DIXIE TORNADO OUTBREAK (1908)
This destructive tornado outbreak affected portions of the Great Plains, the Midwest, and the Southern United States from April 23–26, 1908. The outbreak produced at least 34 tornadoes in 13 states, with a total of at least 324 tornado-related fatalities. This gave rise to 143 fatalities
7. JOPLIN TORNADO (2011)
The 2011 Joplin tornado was a catastrophic EF5 multiple-vortex tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri in the late afternoon of Sunday, May 22, 2011. It was part of a larger late-May tornado outbreak sequence and reached a maximum width of nearly 1 mile (1.6 km) during its path through the southern part of the city, 158 people died as a result of this.
6. GLAZIER–HIGGINS–WOODWARD TORNADOES (1947)
The 1947 Glazier–Higgins–Woodward tornadoes were a system of related tornadoes that swept through Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas on April 9, 1947. Most of the damage and all the deaths are still blamed on one large F5 tornado, known as the Glazier-Higgins-Woodward Tornado, that travelled nearly 125 miles from Texas to Oklahoma. 181 people died as a result making it the 6th most devastating tornadoes in US history.
4&5. TUPELO–GAINESVILLE TORNADO OUTBREAK (1936)
The 1936 Tupelo–Gainesville tornado outbreak was an outbreak of seventeen tornadoes that struck the Southeastern United States from April 5 to 6, 1936. Approximately 436 people were killed by these tornadoes. Depending on how you look at it, the combination of these two tornadoes could be regarded as the second deadliest ever recorded in US history but if we are to break it down, the Tupelo Mississippi resulted to 216 fatalities while Gainesville Georgia gave rise to 203 deaths. Although the outbreak was centred around Tupelo, Mississippi and Gainesville, Georgia, other destructive tornadoes associated with the outbreak struck Columbia, Tennessee, Anderson, South Carolina and Acworth, Georgia resulting to severe flash floods from the associated storms produced millions of dollars in damage across the region.
3. ST. LOUIS – EAST ST. LOUIS TORNADO (1896)
The St. Louis – East St. Louis tornado is a historic tornado event that occurred on Wednesday, May 27, 1896, as part of a major tornado outbreak across the Central United States on the 27th, continuing across the Eastern United States on the 28th. One of the deadliest and most devastating tornadoes in the history of United States, It caused over $10,000,000 in damage (1896) and resulted to 216 fatalities.
2. GREAT NATCHEZ TORNADO
The Great Natchez Tornado hit Natchez, Mississippi on May 7, 1840. It is the second deadliest single tornado in United States history, killing 317 people (the only tornado in the United States to have killed more people was the Tri-State Tornado). The Fujita scale rating of this tornado is almost certainly an F5 but since there was no Fujita scale at the time, this tornado remains uncategorized.
1. TRI-STATE TORNADO (1925)
The Great Tri-State Tornado of Wednesday, March 18, 1925, is the deadliest tornado in U.S. history. Inflicting 695 fatalities, the tornado killed more than twice as many as the second deadliest, the 1840 Great Natchez Tornado. The continuous ≥219 mile (≥352 km) track left by the tornado was the longest ever recorded in the world: the tornado crossed from southeastern Missouri, through southern Illinois, then into southwestern Indiana. Although not officially rated by NOAA, it is recognized by most experts (such as Tom Grazulis) as an F5 tornado, the maximum damage rating issued on the Fujita scale.