94th anniversary of Tri-State Tornado - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

94th anniversary of Tri-State Tornado

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WSIL -- Monday marks 94 years since the Tri-State Tornado ravaged parts of southeast Missouri, southern Illinois, and southwest Indiana. The infamous twister still holds numerous records.

The morning of March 18, 1925 was cloudy and damp across southern Illinois. For the day, the weather forecast, which was much less advanced than today, called for showers, but there was no mention of severe storms or tornadoes. 

Around 1 p.m. that afternoon, the tornado touched down just outside Ellington, Missouri, tracking to the northeast at more than 70 miles per hour. The twister would hit Annapolis, Missouri around 1:15 p.m. taking its first four lives. Another four people would be killed around 2 p.m. when the small town of Biehle, Missouri was hit. 

Over the next 40 minutes, 541 lives would be lost and 1,423 people would be severely injured through Jackson, Williamson, and Franklin counties. 

Just before 2:30 p.m., the large, black cloud crossed the Mississippi River into southern Illinois. Gorham was hit at 2:26 p.m., Murphysboro at 2:34 p.m. and DeSoto at 2:38 p.m. Murphysboro had the highest death toll along the path, with 234. In DeSoto a school was leveled, killing 30 students and teachers. 

In Franklin County, West Frankfort would suffer 132 causalities as the west and northwest sections of town were hit. Six miles to the northeast, Parrish would be the next community to be ravaged by the monster tornado. 

The tornado would continue through Hamilton and White counties before crossing into Indiana. Griffin, Indiana was completely destroyed. Princeton, Indiana was also heavily damaged. Another 45 people were killed in Princeton. At around 4:29 p.m., the tornado finally picked up ten miles northeast of Princeton. 

In total, 695 people were killed and over 2,000 injured and the tornado holds many records still today.

- The deadliest tornado in U.S. history with 695 deaths; twice as high as the 2nd deadliest tornado (Natchez Tornado 317 casualties)
- The deadliest tornado in Illinois history with 613 deaths
- The deadliest tornado in Indiana history with 71 deaths
- The longest lasting tornado in world history (3.5 hours)
- The greatest distance traveled for a tornado in world history (219 miles)
- The highest forward speed (73 miles per hour)

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