9 Most Destructive Twisters in Hannibal and Quincy Area History
The Hannibal and Quincy area has been fortunate to not experience the kind of tornado like the one that destroyed much of Joplin in 2011. However, there is a deep history of devasting twisters that have caused incredible amounts of damage in the tri-state area. Here are the 9 most destructive tornadoes over the past 150 years.
March 6 through March 10, 2023 is severe weather preparedness week for Illinois and Missouri. It's good to recall the history of tornadoes that have roared through our area so we remember it can happen again. According to the National Weather Service archives, here are the most destructive twisters for both Marion County, Missouri and Adams County, Illinois.
This tornado formed 4 miles southwest of Hannibal clobbering a 20-block area downtown before traveling into Pike County, Illinois. 12 people were injured and an estimated $200,000 in damage was reported.
This violent twister was part of a series of tornadoes and downbursts that tore apart the business district in Quincy and blew the dome off of the courthouse. A hotel roof was blown off and many homes in Mendon and Loraine suffered damage. In total, $2.2 million in property was done by the wind that day.
The May 2003 tornado formed just north of the Marion and Lewis County line. It crossed the river near Lock and Dam 20 southwest of Meyer and plowed a hole in the tree line near the river before slamming into Lima, Illinois where it reached it's maximum strength. Eyewitnesses say it was between 200 and 300 yards wide when it damaged nearly 50 buildings and homes. Miraculously only 4 injuries were reported.
This May of 1961 EF3 tornado formed near Hannibal and cut a long-duration path all the way to almost Peoria, Illinois. The maximum intensity was reported in Knox County.
The March 30, 1938 EF3 tornado formed near Kellerville, Illinois. It was another powerful wedge tornado that stayed on the ground nearly to Peoria. Considering the violent winds, it's fortunate this twister did not affect as many populated areas as the loss of life would have been massive if this had impacted a major city.
In an era before there were any radars or early warning signs, this massive EF3 formed in Missouri before it crossed the river and damaged 11 homes in the Lima, Keene and Houston townships. One person is believed to have died as a result of this storm.
This monster twister formed 7 miles south of Quincy. Stories from residents say their homes were "carried away". By the time it finally dissipated in Brown County, 1 person was dead, 6 injured and 50 cows and bulls were killed.
This major twister was part of the same supercell that was responsible for #7 on this list. This part of the storm dropped a tornado near Monroe City, Missouri damaged 25 homes there before it moved toward West Ely where 3 farms were hit. At it's maximum strength, it was rated a 200 yard wide EF3 overturning a tractor-trailer in the process.
Of all the tornadoes that have carved a swath through the tri-state area, none was more deadly than the March 10, 1876 twister that first touched down in Monroe County. It slammed into homes in Ralls and Marion counties and even hit McDonald's Island in the Mississippi River. By the time it lifted, 14 Marion County residents were dead and 40 injured. Records at that time are scarce, but stories have been passed down for generations of farms and homes simply leveled by the winds. It remains the strongest reported tornado in tri-state history as a monster EF4.