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Deadliest Tornadoes

Most tornadoes do not result in death, and of those that do, most claim only a few lives. Also, as a result of improved forecasting and early warning systems, the death toll from tornadoes has dropped significantly over the years, despite increasing populations in tornado-prone areas. Unfortunately, super-violent tornadoes are still documented, some with exceptional death tolls. Interestingly, a number of these devastating tornadoes have occurred outside of Tornado Alley, and several at times of day or year not normally associated with violent tornadoes. Although all of most deadly tornadoes occurred prior to the invention of the Fujita Scale, historical records of their damage have led them to be classified as either EF-4 or EF-5.

The Ten Deadliest Documented Tornado Events

Rank Date Estimated Intensity* State Injuries (Deaths) Remarks
1 March 18, 1925 EF-5 MO, IL, IN 2,027 (695) Tri-State Tornado
Wikipedia Entry
Tornado Project Page
2 May 6, 1840 Unknown LA, MS 109 (317) Hit Nachez, MS
Wikipedia Information
Tornado Project Page
3 May 27, 1896 EF-4 MO, IL 1,000 (255) The Great St. Louis Tornado
Tornado Project Page
The Great Cyclone. SIU Press
St. Louis American Local History Network
4 April 5, 1936 EF-5 MS 700 (216) Hit Tupelo, MS
Tornado Project Page
5 April 6, 1936 EF-4 GA 1,600 (203) Hit Gainesville, GA
Tornado Project Page
About N. Georgia
6 April 9, 1947 EF-5 TX, KS, OK 970 (181) Tornado Project Page
7 May 22, 2011 EF-5 MO 1,000 (158) Hit Joplin, MO 
NWS Summary
8 April 24, 1908 EF-4 LA, MS 770 (143) Hit Amite, LA and Purvis, MS
Tornado Project Page
9 June 12, 1899 EF-5 WI 200 (117) Hit New Richmond, WI
Tornado Project Page
10 June 8, 1953 EF-5 MI 844 (116) Hit Flint, MI
Tornado Project Page