I grew up in the Hannibal/Quincy area and tend to be a weather nerd, but have never heard of this historic storm. It was the most devastating tornado in northeast Missouri history and it claimed 14 lives back in March of 1876.

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The National Weather Service has a recorded history of the major tornadoes that have been reported in Marion County. By far the worst happened on March 10, 1876. Here's their exact report of what happened that day:

Tornado touched down in Monroe County and moved through Ralls and Marion Counties before moving into Adams County, IL. Five deaths occurred in Miller Township, Marion County. Tornado crossed the Mississippi River at "McDonald's Island", about 5 miles N of Hannibal. A total of 14 people were killed and 40 people injured.

It is estimated that the twister that ravaged 4 counties that day would have been rated an EF4 by modern standards. It killed 5 in Marion County alone and 14 total.

Try to imagine life back in 1876. No radio. No TV. No radar. There's no mention of what time of day the tornado happened, but a twister that powerful likely took the area by complete surprise especially if it happened at night. Other than farmers who have learned to interpret the sky and understand when a severe storm is upon them, there would have been no warning about the dangerous tornado that was approaching.

It's hard to imagine a tornado this large in the northeast Missouri/west central Illinois area now. The EF3 rated twister in May of 2003 is the closest we've come to experiencing this kind of damaging storm and no lives were lost that day. Let's hope we never have this kind of twister go through our area ever again.

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