The 5 Worst Tornadoes in American History

April 13, 2021 4 min read

prepping for tornadoes

Spring is here.

The weather is warming up.

The great outdoors are back.

But with a new season comes new problems.

A large amount of our great country is threatened almost every day from spring till fall by one of the most ruthless weather formations, tornados.

These freak storms are some of the roughest and toughest storms that Mother Nature can dish out.

They strike lightning-fast and leave a trail of destruction.

The worst part is they can strike almost anywhere at any time.

There are no areas immune to tornadoes; they have been reported in mountains and valleys, over deserts and swamps, from the Gulf Coast into Canada, in Hawaii, and even Alaska.

Regardless of the location or time of year, if conditions are right, a tornado can happen.

So today, I’m breaking down five of the worst tornadoes in US history and how you can be ready for the next one.

How to Be Ready For The Next Worst Tornado In US History

The best way to be ready for a tornado is to be prepared.

This includes having the following things:

  • Water
    • Families should set aside one gallon of water per person per day, to last three days.
  • Emergency Food
    • At least a three-day supply of food per person. The food should be nonperishable items that can be quickly cooked with a portable stove.
  • Batter-Powered Stove
    • Be sure to include a pan to cook your food in.
  • Battery-Powered Radio
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries for the radio, flashlight and stove
  • Prescription Medications
  • First-Aid kit

    These are the basics but will get you through any immediate emergency situation with a tornado.

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    It has everything you need in a sealed bucked and it will last 25 years.

    Worst Tornadoes In US History: Hackleburg, Alabama - April 27, 2011

    worst tornadoes in us history hackleburg

    • Rating: EF-5
    • Estimated Maximum Wind: 210 mph.
    • Injuries/Fatalities: 100 Injuries / 18 Fatalities
    • Damage Path Length: 25.14 miles
    • Maximum Path Width: 1320 yards (¾ mile)

    Hackelburg was right in the middle of the tornado outbreak in 2011, and this was one of the worst tornadoes in US history.

    Winds were measured at over 200 mph, leaving a trail of destruction 132 miles long. 72 people lost their lives while also injuring 145.

    It caused $1.25 billion in damages, causing the most in Alabama history…for a few hours anyway.

    Below is footage captured by storm chasers.

    Worst Tornadoes In US History: Joplin, Missouri - May 22, 2011

    worst tornadoes in us history joplin

    • Rating: EF-5
    • Estimated Maximum Wind: 200 mph.
    • Injuries/Fatalities: 1000+ Injuries / 158 Fatalities
    • Damage Path Length: 22.1 miles
    • Maximum Path Width: 1760 yards (1 mile)

    Just a few months later, another 200 mph tornado landed in Missouri adding to the list of worst tornadoes in US history.

    It leveled almost every building on site, including schools and hospitals.

    After 162 people had been killed, it cost over $2.8 billion in damages and affected more than 17,000 individuals. It took years for the town to rebuild.

    Below is footage from this scary storm:

    Worst Tornadoes in US History: St. Louis, Missouri - May 27, 1896

    worst tornadoes in us history st louis

    • Estimated Rating: EF-4
    • Estimated Maximum Wind: 200 mph.
    • Injuries/Fatalities: 1000+ Injuries / 255 Fatalities
    • Maximum Path Width: 5280 yards (3 miles)

    In May of 1896, one of the worst tornadoes in US history touched down in St Louis.

    It was the most violent in a string of storms that crushed the area that year.

    255 people were killed as the tornado laid waste to the city.

    The damages were estimated at $3.8 billion, by today’s standards, by destroying over 8,800 buildings.

    Worst Tornadoes in US History: Gainesville/Tupelo Tornado Storm

    worst tornadoes in us history gainesville

    • Estimated Rating: F-4
    • Estimated Maximum Wind: 200 mph.
    • Injuries/Fatalities: 2498 Injuries / 454 Fatalities
    • Estimated Damage: $15.5 million

    This tornado resulted from a pair of storms that converged on April 6, 1936, in Gainesville, Georgia.

    It resulted in the killing of 203 people and injuring 1,600.

    The tornado destroyed four blocks and 750 houses in the northern Georgia town.

    The next day it continued, and by the end of the two days, the death toll ran to 454 people.

    Worst Tornadoes in US HIstory: Tri-State Tornado - March 18, 1925

    worst tornadoes in us history tri-state

    • Estimated Rating: F-5
    • Estimated Speed: 70 mph.
    • Injuries/Fatalities: 2027 Injuries / 695 Fatalities
    • Estimated Damage: $2.2 billion

    The Tri-State tornado was the deadliest twister in the history of the country.

    It was the most significant cyclone in a system of 12 that hit the area.

    The storm killed 695 people and left a track of 219 miles.

    It is considered to have hit the F5 intensity with a width of a mile and traveling almost 70 miles an hour for three straight hours.

    Conclusion - The Worst Tornadoes in US History

    We all know that history repeats itself.

    New tornadoes of even larger magnitude can quickly replace the worst tornadoes in US history.

    The best thing you can do is be prepared for them.

    Have your emergency kit ready with everything you need for your family, including:

    • Water
    • Emergency Food
    • Battery-Powered Stove
    • Battery-Powered Radio
    • Flashlight
    • Extra Batteries
    • Prescription Medications
    • First-Aid Kit

    Once you have all of that, you will be as ready for a tornado as you can.

    To get you started in building your emergency kit, Valley Food Storage has you covered in the food department.

    It’s simple - our 175 Serving Long Term Food Kit will be more than enough for your entire family to be able to eat in an emergency.

    This survival food is perfect for protecting you and your family as it lasts up to 25 years.

    It will be ready for you whenever you need it.

    Click here to check out our 175 Serving Long Term Food Kit now!