1896 St. Louis – East St. Louis tornado
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|Damage at Jefferson and Allen Avenues|
|Date of tornado outbreak:||May 27-28, 1896|
|Maximum rated tornado2:||F4 tornado|
|Damages:||$3.8 billion (2009 USD)|
|Areas affected:||Central-Eastern United States|
2Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita Scale
May 27 outbreakThe first significant tornado of the day formed near Bellflower, Missouri and killed a woman. Three students died and sixteen were injured when the Dye School in Audrain County, Missouri 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, Hoyleton, Richview, and Irvington, Illinois.
Twenty-seven more people died in the other Illinois tornadoes of this outbreak.
St. Louis – East St. Louis tornadoThe tornado spawned from the other supercell became the third deadliest and the most costly tornado in United States history. It touched down in St. Louis, Missouri, 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 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 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 in June.
St. Louis tornado historyIt 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 (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 tornadoesIn what was apparently an intense tornado outbreak sequence, 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 seasonThe 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.
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