07-07-2016

Mother Nature's Most Deadly Storms

At just after 1 pm a rolling fog-like cloud appeared, initially causing no alarm until it was appreciated for it was, one of Mother Nature's most deadly phenomena, an F5 tornado, and one that would leave 695 people dead in its wake.

1888 Great Blizzard

The Great Blizzard of 1988 was one of the deadliest weather disasters to hit the United States in recorded history. Snowfalls of up to 40-50 inches in parts of New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York caused heavy storm damage and many people died trapped in their houses during this terrible weather. Storm winds hit over 45 miles per hour, producing massive 50 foot drifts and causing even more storm damage and confusion.

The Great Blizzard hit on March 11, 1888 and lasted through March 14, 1888.

The Great Blizzard, also known as the Great White Hurricane, struck the Eastern Coast of the United States and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as from Chesapeake Bay up through Canada, isolating people in their homes, disabling emergency services, and downing telegraph services in the affected states.

It was not just the cold that killed people during the Great Blizzard of 1888; as fire stations became completely snowed in, and property damage and deaths by fire grew. At sea, at least 100 seamen died as approximately 200 ships were grounded because of the storm. Another 100 people were estimated to have died in New York alone, with the total death toll of the storm being about 400 people altogether. Most of the casualties were the sick, as well as the very young and very old, with lack of nutrition, cold, and fire being responsible for most of the deaths.

Fuel became extremely scarce during this weather disaster, and people had to turn to burning furniture and other fuels to stay alive while trapped in their homes. When people began emerging from their homes, the men attempted to dump the snow into the Atlantic Ocean to get rid of it. The terrible storm and incredible storm damage, as well as the transportation crisis during and immediately following the storm, led directly to the proposal and creation of the New York subway system, which was approved six years later in 1894 and begun at the turn of the millennium in 1900.

While there have been many terrible storms since the Great Blizzard of 1888, some with heavier snowfall and some with significantly lower temperatures, there has not been a storm since 1888 that matched this one. This blizzard's combination of low temperatures and heavy snow has gone unmatched for more than a century in the Eastern United States.

Tri-State Tornado

March 18, 1925 was an ordinary early spring day for many weather-wise farmers just outside Ellington, Missouri, and a weather disaster was the last thing on anyone's mind. At just after 1 pm a rolling fog-like cloud appeared, initially causing no alarm until it was appreciated for it was, one of Mother Nature's most deadly phenomena, an F5 tornado, and one that would leave 695 people dead in its wake. The Great Tri-State Tornado had arrived and would dwarf the previously largest recorded US tornado, the Great Natchez of 1840, in ferocity, human casualties, and storm weather damage.

Leaving a 219-mile continuous track through Missouri, southern Illinois, and into southwestern Indiana, the longest recorded tornado track ever recorded accounts for the size of the storm damage caused by this disaster. The Great Tri-State Tornado's appearance confused many in its path, since at first sight it looked nothing like a tornado but just another weather storm front. The speeding tornado overwhelmed all in its path, and the power it generated, combined with the continuous contact with the ground, created peripheral storm damage out of all proportion to other tornados. Entire towns and communities were all but wiped out. Annapolis, Missouri was a typical example of the effect of the storm damage as it was almost totally destroyed.

At the time, the science of tornados was very much in its infancy, and efforts were renewed to understand the cause of such destructive events and improve early warning advisories to alleviate the storm damage and casualties. The Tri-State Tornado has been thoroughly researched, and the scale of this weather disaster led to questions being raised as to whether this was a single tornado or a series of several contributing to the storm damage. Certainly, on that fateful day there were more than one tornado occurrences causing storm damage across the region. Analysis of the evidence, not only using eyewitness accounts, but also from claims for insurance payouts, has finally demonstrated that not only was this a continuous, single tornado, but that it also touched down some 15 miles further west than was at first previously thought.

It is fortunate indeed, that this weather disaster occurred in a primarily rural area; however, the financial cost was high, with storm damage estimated at approximately $1.65 billion (adjusted). This amount was only exceeded by the two tornadoes that hit St Louis.

For more information on the Great Tri-State Tornado check out these resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tri-State_Tornado

http://www.weather.com/newscenter/specialreports/sotc/storm7/page1.html

http://utvols.8m.com/1925.html

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