Since my wife is a meteorologist, I tend to be interested in weather things. This is the result of that. I wondered out loud what the worst tornado in Illinois history was and almost everywhere I looked agreed that it was a 200-mile-long EF5 that devastated multiple states back in 1925.

It was known as the Tri-State tornado that began in Missouri and created a 219 mile path of devastation that crossed Illinois and stayed on the ground long enough to hit Indiana, too. It began in Missouri early in the afternoon of March 18, 1925.

The statistics for this mammoth tornado are almost beyond belief. On the ground for 219 miles and 3/4 of a mile wide, the damage path was unprecedented.

University of Illinois
University of Illinois

The National Weather Service shows that the tornado touched down in Missouri at 1:01 pm and didn't dissipate until 4:30 p in Indiana.

  • 695 people killed
  • 15,000 homes destroyed
  • Over 2,000 injuries

There weren't even official Fujita scale ratings back in 1925, but all experts agree this was no doubt an EF5 with winds likely over 300 mph.

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As the National Weather Service pointed out in their summary of the 1925 disaster, there were no tornado watches or warnings back in that era. It was word of mouth and farmers that knew how to read the skies. Many of the survivors in the video above mentioned that they thought it was just a bad thunderstorm and could only see a rolling cloud not knowing that was debris and the mammoth vortex was trailing it.

Based on the National Weather Service stats, this is the largest loss of life in a tornado ever and it's path across Missouri, Illinois and Indiana will never be forgotten by those families who were affected.

KEEP READING: What to do after a tornado strikes

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