February 10, 1959: Tornado kills 21

12:22 PM, Feb 8, 2010   |    comments
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KSDK -- Fifty-one years ago, a twister swept through southwestern St. Louis county and midtown St. Louis that caused such damage that residents would cite their connection as "survivors" for years to come.

The twister, arriving just after 2 a.m. on February 10, 1959, killed 21 people that night and injured more than 350.

The tornado was a surprise to residents, even though it may have initially touched down as far west as Eureka. Forecasters in 1959 did not have the same tornado resources as today. In particular, they lacked tornado sirens and large groups of trained observers.

This lack of warning, coupled with the speed of the twister, which may have moved as quickly as 60 mph at times, buried many victims in the debris of destroyed power lines, apartments and homes.

Cleanup and rebuilding would continue for years following the disaster. Damage was particularly noteworthy at The St. Louis Arena, which lost its roof to the storm.


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