The terrifying winds of tornadoes can snuff out lives suddenly and without warning, but many of the deadliest twisters in America occurred close to a century or more ago.
Even with today’s advanced technology to warn people as soon as possible, many fatalities still result from these unpredictable storms.
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Here are some of the deadliest tornadoes in American history:
1. Roaring more than 300 miles through Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana, the "Tri-State Tornado" killed 695 people on March 18, 1925. It also injured some 2,027 people. It had winds of more than 260 miles per hour and was rated F5, the highest level on the old Fujita scale.
2. The "Natchez Tornado" of 1840 struck Louisiana and Mississippi as it traveled along the Mississippi River, taking the lives of 317 people and injuring 109. The death toll could be higher because it may not have included slaves.
3. A devastating tornado rolled through downtown St. Louis before crossing the Mississippi River and striking East St. Louis in 1896, causing 255 deaths. There were at least 1,000 injuries. With an estimated $2.56 billion in damages, it was the costliest tornado to strike the U.S. until the 2011 tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri.
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4. Tornadoes killed 216 people in Tupelo, Mississippi, and 203 people in Gainesville, Georgia, on April 5-6, 1936. The storms traveled through several states before devastating Tupelo on April 5. Most of the dead were pulled out of the same pond. The next morning, tornadoes struck Gainesville. Fatalities included 70 employees at a Cooper Pants factory building that collapsed and 20 people in a department store collapse.
5. The Joplin tornado of 2011 resulted in 161 fatalities and caused $2.8 billion in damages. It had winds of more than 200 miles per hour as it swept through 6 miles of the city. The immense twister destroyed a local hospital and high school, tossing thousands of vehicles into the air.
6. That same year, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, suffered 65 fatalities and some 1,500 injuries from a tornado that traveled 80 miles. Some 200 tornadoes churned through the Southeast on the same day. The tornado not only destroyed an elementary school, but it also wiped out the Tuscaloosa Country Emergency Operations Center.
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