Natural Disasters

10 deadly tornadoes from U.S. history

Born from thunderstorms, tornadoes can rip apart homes and toss cars around like toys. These are some of the most vicious twisters to hit the U.S. in recorded history.

Tornado 7

May 27, 1997 -- Jarrell, Texas

A twister three-quarters of a mile wide struck a residential section of the town of Jarrell, destroying 30 homes; eight mobile homes and three businesses. The tornado's track was 7.6 miles long. Of the 29 people killed by the tornado, 27 were in Jarrell -- including five members of one family.

AP Photo/Theresa Schuch

Tornado 1

May 6, 1840 -- Louisiana, Mississippi

The tornado started in Concordia Parish, La., and killed hundreds of people on boats and barges in the Mississippi River before striking Natchez, Miss., and killing several dozen more there. With 317 killed, this is the second deadliest tornado in U.S. history.

Sketch of Natchez, Miss., circa 1835

AP Photo/Courtesy of Natchez Historical Society

Tornado 2

May 27, 1896 -- St. Louis, Missouri

The third deadliest tornado to strike the United States claimed 255 lives.

AP Photo/St. Louis Public Library Archives, J.C. Strauss

Tornado 3

March 18, 1925 -- Missouri, Illinois, Indiana

The tornado began about 1 p.m. northwest of Ellington, Mo., and had killed 11 people by the time it reached the Mississippi River. Crossing into southern Illinois, the twister demolished the town of Gorham at about 2:30 p.m. Most of the deaths -- 541 -- occurred when the mile-wide tornado plowed through the towns of Murphysboro, De Soto, Hurst-Bush and West Frankfort. The storm later crossed the Wabash River into Indiana, where it tore up several more towns. The final death toll of 695 makes this the deadliest tornado on record in the United States.

AP Photo

Tornado 4

June 9, 1953 -- Worcester, Massachusetts

Though you probably think Great Plains when you think tornadoes, they have been recorded in every state. Ninety people were killed in this twister, making it the 20th deadliest tornado in U.S. history. The funnel was about 1 mile wide and was on the ground for 84 minutes. In addition to the dead, 1,288 people were injured. The Worcester tornado is also notable for another reason. Debris from the twister was found many miles away. Chunks of a frozen mattress fell into Boston Harbor -- 50 miles away!

AP Photo/Assumption College

Tornado 5

April 3, 1974 -- Xenia, Ohio

Part of the largest outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded -- 147 twisters in 13 states on April 3-4, 1974. The storms claimed 310 lives and caused $250 million in damage.

AP Photo

Tornado 6

May 6, 1975 -- Omaha, Nebraska

At $250 million in damage, this was the fifth costliest tornado in U.S. history.

AP Photo/Bob Dunn

Tornado 8

May 3, 1999 -- Oklahoma

Winds of 302 mph were recorded near a tornado that struck Bridge Creek, Oklahoma -- the highest wind speed ever recorded so close to the Earth's surface. This tornado was also part of one of the largest outbreaks of twisters. More than 70 were spotted over south central Kansas, eastern Oklahoma and northern Texas that day. A tornado that hit Oklahoma City caused $1 billion in damage, making it the third costliest on record. Oklahoma City has been struck by tornadoes more than any city in the United States.

AP Photo/Jerry Laizure

Tornado 9

May 22, 2004 -- Hallam, Nebraska

This was the largest tornado ever recorded, with a peak width of 2.5 miles. It caused massive destruction along a 52-mile path. Homes were demolished, trees uprooted and freight train cars toppled. Hallam avoided a direct hit from the tornado when it was at its strongest, though the town suffered considerable damage.

AP Photo/Nati Hamik

Tornado 10

April 24, 2010 -- Yazoo City, Mississippi

The National Weather Service recorded a total of 79 tornadoes that ripped through Mississippi, and other states across the South. At least 10 people were killed in rural Mississippi and two in Alabama. Meteorologists said that the tornado had winds of 160 miles an hour and left a path of destruction at least 50 miles long.

AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

10 deadly tornadoes from U.S. history

Born from thunderstorms, tornadoes can rip apart homes and toss cars around like toys. These are some of the most vicious twisters to hit the U.S. in recorded history.

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