18.1 The Tri-State Tornado of 18 March 1925, Part I: Re-examination of the damage path

Friday, 10 November 2006: 1:30 PM
St. Louis AB (Adam's Mark Hotel)
Donald W. Burgess, CIMMS/Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and R. H. Johns, C. A. Doswell III, J. Hart, M. S. Gilmore, and S. F. Piltz

The Tri-State tornado of 18 March 1925 remains the most infamous tornado in the historical record. It has been attributed with a 219-mile path of damage, 3000 injuries, and over 700 deaths - the most deaths ever attributed to a single tornado. Red Cross Relief efforts spent over $3 million (approx. 32 million in 2005 dollars) and over 7,000 families were affected; many were made refugees. Surprisingly, only one formal publication (the April 1925 issue of Mon. Wea. Rev.) has summarized the damage. The original damage surveys could not be found.

In Part I, we present our preliminary re-analysis of the damage track with the goal of confirming or denying existing notions about: 1) the continuity of the damage along the tornado track, and 2) the tornadic storm's precipitation characteristics. Our ongoing track analysis involves personally interviewing living survivors along the track to determine, as accurately as is possible, the tornado's damage, intensity, and continuity. Other information is being gathered from local newspaper reports, census data, and other sources such as current mounds and depressions caused by long-ago tree falls.

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