Deadly United States Tornadoes

List of the 10 Most Deadly Tornadoes in the U.S. Since the 1800s

Tornado column in rural landscape
Cultura Science/Jason Persoff Stormdoctor / Getty Images

Every spring in the months from April through June, the Midwestern portion of the United States is hit by tornadoes. These storms occur in all of the 50 states but they are most common in the aforementioned Midwest and the states of Texas and Oklahoma in particular. The entire region where tornadoes are common is known as Tornado Alley and it stretches from northwest Texas through Oklahoma and Kansas.

Hundreds or sometimes thousands of tornadoes hit Tornado Alley and other parts of the U.S. each year. Most are weak on the Fujita Scale, occur in undeveloped areas and cause little damage. From April through late May 2011, for example, there were about 1,364 tornadoes in the U.S., most of which did not cause damage. However, some are very strong and are capable of killing hundreds and damaging entire towns. On May 22, 2011, for instance, an EF5 tornado destroyed the town of Joplin, Missouri and killed over 100 people, making it the deadliest tornado to hit the U.S. since 1950.

The Deadliest Tornadoes Since the 1800s

The following is a list of the ten deadliest tornadoes since the 1800s:

1) Tri-State Tornado (Missouri, Illinois, Indiana)

• Death Toll: 695
• Date: March 18, 1925

2) Natchez, Mississippi

• Death Toll: 317
• Date: May 6, 1840

3) St. Louis, Missouri

• Death Toll: 255
• Date: May 27, 1896

4) Tupelo, Mississippi

• Death Toll: 216
• Date: April 5, 1936

5) Gainesville, Georgia

• Death Toll: 203
• Date: April 6, 1936

6) Woodward, Oklahoma

• Death Toll: 181
• Date: April 9, 1947

7) Joplin, Missouri

• Estimated Death Toll as of June 9, 2011: 151
• Date: May 22, 2011

8) Amite, Louisiana and Purvis, Mississippi

• Death Toll: 143
• Date: April 24, 1908

9) New Richmond, Wisconsin

• Death Toll: 117
• Date: June 12, 1899

10) Flint, Michigan

• Death Toll: 115
• Date: June 8, 1953

To learn more about tornadoes, visit the National Severe Storms Laboratory website on tornadoes.


Erdman, Jonathan. "Perspective: Deadliest Tornado Year Since 1953." The Weather Channel. Retrieved from:

Storm Prediction Center. (n.d.). "The 25 Deadliest U.S. Tornadoes." National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved from: and Associated Press. 2011's Tornadoes by the Numbers.

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Briney, Amanda. "Deadly United States Tornadoes." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Briney, Amanda. (2020, August 27). Deadly United States Tornadoes. Retrieved from Briney, Amanda. "Deadly United States Tornadoes." ThoughtCo. (accessed April 11, 2021).