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St. Louis-East St. Louis Tornado

St. Louis-East St. Louis Tornado

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The 1896 St. Louis – East St. Louis tornado is a historic tornado
A tornado is a violent, dangerous, rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the earth and a cumulonimbus cloud or, in rare cases, the base of a cumulus cloud. They are often referred to as a twister or a cyclone, although the word cyclone is used in meteorology in a wider...

 event that occurred on Wednesday, May 27, 1896, as part of a major tornado outbreak
Tornado outbreak
While there is no single agreed upon definition, generally at least 6-10 tornadoes produced by the same synoptic scale weather system is considered a tornado outbreak. The tornadoes usually occur within the same day, or continue into the early morning hours of the succeeding day, and within the...

 across the Central United States on the 27th, continuing across the Eastern United States on the 28th. One of the deadliest and most destructive tornadoes in U.S. history, this very large, long-track, and violent tornado was the most notable of an outbreak which produced other large, long-track, violent, killer tornadoes. It caused over $10,000,000 in damage (1896).

May 27 outbreak

The first significant tornado of the day formed near Bellflower, Missouri
Bellflower, Missouri
Bellflower is a city in Montgomery County, Missouri, United States. The population was 427 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Bellflower is located at ....

 and killed a woman. Three students died and sixteen were injured when the Dye School in Audrain County, Missouri
Audrain County, Missouri
Audrain County is a county located in the U.S. state of Missouri. As of 2010, the population was 25,529. Its county seat is Mexico. The county was organized in 1836. Audrain County was named for Col. James Hunter Audrain. Col. Audrain was Colonel of militia in the War of 1812. In 1830 Col...

 was hit at around 6:15 P.M. The same tornado killed one student and injured 19 others at the Bean Creek school a few minutes later. At 6:30, two supercell thunderstorms produced two tornadoes. One decimated farms in New Minden
New Minden, Illinois
New Minden is a village in Washington County, Illinois, United States. The population was 215 at the 2010 census. It possessed a post office from 1868 to 1976.-Geography:New Minden is located at ....

, Hoyleton
Hoyleton, Illinois
Hoyleton is a village in Washington County, Illinois, United States. The population was 531 at the 2010 census. It is the home town of former Montréal Expos and San Francisco Giants left-handed pitcher Kirk Rueter.-Geography:...

, Richview
Richview, Illinois
Richview is a village in Washington County, Illinois, United States. The population was 253 at the 2010 census. Some areas around Richview were made available for homestead under the Homestead Act during the Civil War.-Geography:...

, and Irvington, Illinois
Irvington, Illinois
Irvington is a village in Washington County, Illinois, United States. The population was 659 at the 2010 census.-Geography:Irvington is located at ....


Twenty-seven more people died in the other Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 tornadoes of this outbreak.

St. Louis – East St. Louis tornado

The tornado spawned from the other supercell became the third deadliest and the most costly tornado in United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 history. It touched down in St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 319,294, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The Greater St...

, one of the largest and most influential cities in the country. 137 people died as the tornado traversed the core of the city leaving a mile wide (1.6 km) continuous swath of destroyed homes, schools, saloons, factories, mills, churches, parks, and railroad yards. More people probably died on boats on the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 as the bodies may have gone downriver. When the tornado crossed the river and hit East Saint Louis, Illinois, it was smaller but more intense. An additional 118 people were killed. The confirmed death toll is 255, with some estimates above 400. More than 1,000 were injured. The tornado was later rated F4
Fujita scale
The Fujita scale , or Fujita-Pearson scale, is a scale for rating tornado intensity, based primarily on the damage tornadoes inflict on human-built structures and vegetation...

 on the Fujita scale. . Enough damage was done to the city that there was some question that St. Louis might not be able to host the 1896 Republican National Convention
1896 Republican National Convention
The 1896 National Convention of the Republican Party of the United States was held in a temporary structure south of the St. Louis City Hall in Saint Louis, Missouri, from June 16 to June 18, 1896....

 in June.

St. Louis tornado history

It is somewhat rare for the core of a large city to be hit directly by a tornado (due to their relatively small area and the relative lack of large cities in the highest tornado threat region)—especially a large intense tornado—yet several other tornadoes have tracked through the City of St. Louis and several of these tornadoes were also very deadly and destructive. Among these events are: 1871
1871 St. Louis tornado
The 1871 St. Louis tornado was an F3 tornado that touched down in St. Louis, Missouri on March 8, 1871,at 3:00 PM. It traveled east-northeast at , cutting a swath up to wide and long into East St. Louis, Illinois. Thirty homes were destroyed and 30 severely damaged. Six railroad depots were...

 (9 killed), 1890 (4 killed), 1904 (3 killed, 100 injured), 1927 (79 killed, 550 injured, 2nd costliest in US history), and 1959 (21 killed, 345 injured). This makes St. Louis the worst tornado afflicted urban area in the U.S. Additionally, the Greater St. Louis area is the scene of even more historically destructive and deadly tornadoes.

Other May 1896 tornadoes

In what was apparently an intense tornado outbreak sequence
Tornado outbreak sequence
A tornado outbreak sequence is a period of continuous or nearly continuous high tornado activity consisting of a series of tornado outbreaks over multiple days with no or very few days lacking tornado outbreaks....

, other major tornado outbreaks occurred on May 15, May 17, and May 24 - 25, with other smaller outbreaks during the month as well. The middle to end of May was extremely active but sparse records preclude knowing much detail. Tom Grazulis has stated that the week of May 24 - 28 was "perhaps the most violent single week of tornado activity in US history".

1896 tornado season

The 1896 tornado season has the distinction of being the deadliest in United States history. There were at least 40 killer tornadoes spanning from April 11 to November 26; including this one, the only one to kill more than 100 people in two separate cities.

See also

External links