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It’s been 98 years since the Tri-State Tornado ripped through Missouri, Illinois, Indiana

The monstrous twister, known as the Tri-State Tornado, traveled 219 miles and killed close to 700 people on March 18, 1925.
Credit: NWS/Jackson County Historical Society
Homes shattered to pieces at Murphysboro, Illinois, in tornado of March 18, 1925, which rendered homeless half of the population of the city. About 1,200 homes were completely destroyed in an area 1-mile wide and 2.5-miles long.

ST. LOUIS — On March 18, 1925, the deadliest tornado in U.S. history tore through southeast Missouri, southern Illinois and southwest Indiana.

The monstrous twister, known as the Tri-State Tornado, killed close to 700 people (234 deaths occurred in Murphysboro, Illinois, alone), injured over 2,000 others and destroyed about 15,000 homes as it traveled a 219-mile path, according to the National Weather Service.

For three-and-a-half hours, the Tri-State Tornado wreaked continuous havoc on anything along its path. It touched down three miles north-northwest of Ellington, Missouri, and dissipated three miles southwest of Petersburg, Indiana.

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Credit: KSDK
The 219-mile path of the Tri-State Tornado that hit Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana March 18, 1925.

An F5 on the Fujita Scale, the tornado passed through the following counties with wind speeds of more than 300 mph, according to the NWS:

  • Missouri - Reynolds, Iron, Madison, Bollinger and Perry.
  • Illinois - Jackson, Williamson, Franklin, Hamilton and White.
  • Indiana - Posey, Gibson and Pike.

More than 19 communities were affected by the natural disaster, including:

  • Missouri - Ellington, Redford, Leadanna, Annapolis, Cornwall, Biehle and Frohna.
  • Illinois - Gorham, Murphysboro, De Soto, Hurst-Bush, Zeigler, West Frankfort, Eighteen, Parrish and Crossville.
  • Indiana - Griffin, Owensville and Princeton.
Credit: NWS/Jackson County Historical Society
A look at the damaged high school in Murphysboro, Illinois. Three students died when the central section of the building collapsed.

After nearly a century, the tornado remains the worst in U.S. history due to its death toll, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It’s followed by the 1984 tornado in Natchez, Mississippi, which claimed 317 lives, and the 1896 tornado in St. Louis, which claimed 255 lives.

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