Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Tri-State Tornado

Thanking the volunteers that have given the time to Joplin
Because of the Joplin Tornado, I have been doing research on tornadoes and the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States.  I have never really been much of a "weather guy", I'm not one of those that takes much interest in what it is doing outside and when I see warnings or hear sirens I usually quickly lose interest.  I never thought of weather as something that "effected" me.  That was, until the Joplin tornado.  With over 49,000 people affected, the tornado hitting so close to home, and seeing the aftermath that was left behind, it made me well aware that I need to be much more vigilant when it comes to storms, and understand that taking shelter is not only cautious, but could save my life.

It also got me wondering about our past, and the lives that have been affected before May 22nd.

On March 18, 1925, at 1:01 PM, without warning, and after a weather forecast of 60 degrees and mostly sunny, the vortex of the Tornado first hit.  Cutting Northwest through Missouri, where it first touched down, it tore through Ellington, Annapolis and Leadanna until it reached the Mississippi and entered Illinois, not before it had taken 11 Missouri lives, injured 32 school children and caused well-over $500,000 in damage.  But the worst was yet to come.

Illinois, the hardest hit, uninformed about what had just happened in it's neighboring state, had no idea that they should be taking shelter immediately from what was about to tear through it's towns and beautiful tree-covered landscape.  Hitting the town of Gorham at 2:30 PM, it destroyed the entire town, killing 34, at a speed of over 62 miles per hour and reaching speeds of 73 miles per hour in some places.  The tornado continued on its northwest trajectory, cutting a mile-wide swath through the towns of Murphysboror, De Soto, Hurst-Bush, West Frankfort, Zeigler, Eighteen, and Maunie, finally crossing through Hamilton and White counties on its way to Indiana.  613 people died that day, through a time span of roughly 40 minutes, the most in a single state in U.S. history.

In the tornado's final route, through Indiana, it crossed the Wabash River into Indiana, ripping through the towns of Griffin, Owensville, Princeton, and finally finishing in Petersburg at 4:30 PM, taking 71 lives in the process.

The total that died with the 3 and 1/2 hours of the tornado's progress reached 695 and the number injured peaked at 2027.  Total damage was $16.5 million or if you adjusted for inflation $1.4 billion.  Nine schools were destroyed, the most by any natural disaster.  Because of the lack of emergency relief programs thousands were left without food or shelter, recovery was slow, and looting was unfortunately rampant.

Good did come from this disaster.  Our government quickly realized that a system had to be put in place to predict and warn those in the path of a storm to seek shelter and protect themselves.  This storm was one of the main reasons the National Weather Warning System was created, and, in addition, the Tri-State Tornado may have spurred the development of the technology for the Weather Forecast System to predict storm cells and tornadoes.

The hearts of all the employees and family of Harter House goes out to the city of Joplin during their time of need, and to those lives that have been affected by all natural disasters, present and past. 
St. Mary's- Joplin May 22nd

Many websites were researched in the creation of this article and if you want more information I recommend highly reading them:

The Great Tri-State Tornado Geography Essay:



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