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The Worst Tornadoes In U.S. History

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Spring is tornado season, putting millions of people across the country on high alert for the sometimes devastating storms. The Onion looks back at the worst tornadoes in U.S. history.

  • 1896: The St. Louis Tornado kills 255 and injures 1,000, most of whom were storm chasers attempting to get up close and capture its beauty on canvas.
  • 1899: The New Richmond Tornado, originally known as the Big Swirly Uh-Oh, is given a more formal name after it becomes clear that 117 lives were lost.
  • 1925: The Tri-State Tornado travels 300 miles through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, killing hundreds before being brought down by a sharpshooter.
  • 1936: The Gainesville Tornado earns MVP of the ’36 Jefferson High School football season after destroying the rival town.
  • 1951: An absolutely terrible tornado touches down just outside Sioux City, IA—uneven funnel, droopy anvil, just a flat-out pathetic showing as far as tornados go.
  • 1994: Despite the extreme predictions for the Las Vegas Automotive Trade Show Cash Tornado, not a single one of those total fucking losers managed to grab more than 11 bucks.
  • 2011: The Joplin Tornado kills 115 people, prompting the Missouri legislature to ban all future tornados.
  • 2023: Oh, just you wait.