St. Louis-East St. Louis Tornado
The "St. Louis - East St. Louis Tornado" is a historic tornado event that occurred on May 27, 1896. It is among the first tornadoes with actual damage photographs. It is one of the deadliest and most destructive tornadoes in U.S. history. This very large, long-track, and violent tornado was but one of many tornadoes in a major tornado outbreak.
The first tornado of the day formed near Bellflower and killed a woman. Three students died and sixteen were injured when the Dye School in Audrain County 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 Illinois farms in New Minden, Hoyleton, Richview, and Irvington.
The other became the third deadliest and costliest tornado in U.S. history. It touched down in St. Louis, then 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 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 St. Louis, 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. Adjusted for wealth and inflation (1997 USD), it is the costliest tornado in U.S. history at an estimated $2.9 billion .
Twenty-seven more people died in the other Illinois tornadoes of this outbreak.
St. Louis Tornado History
- Main article: 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 (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.
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.
- St. Louis/East St. Louis Tornado of 1896 (Tornado Project)
- St. Louis, Missouri Tornado (National Weather Service St. Louis)
- Great Cyclone at St. Louis, May 27, 1896 (NOAA) Photos
- The Great Cyclone at St. Louis and East St. Louis (SIU Press)
- The 1896 Tornado! (Illinois Genealogy Trails History and Geneaology)
- The St. Louis Cyclone of 1896 (US Genealogy Network)
- The Great Cyclone at St. Louis and East St. Louis, May 27, 1896. SIU Press, 1997. ISBN 0-8093-2124-6