Early spring often brings the most violent weather to the nation’s midsection of the entire year. High in the atmosphere, up where the jet stream is, temperatures can still be almost as cold as they are in mid-winter, yet down on the ground temperatures can soar to at times close to summer-time levels. The extreme temperature contrast, that occurs at no other time of the year, combined with turning winds from the surface up into higher levels of the air leads to the formation of severe thunderstorms and multiple tornados. On March 18, 1925 perhaps the greatest severe weather event in the last two centuries was brewing. By the time the day was over what would be known as the Tristate tornado produced the single most devastating tornado ever. The tornado began near Ellington, Missouri and averaged 62 mph in forward speed as it moved northeastward. The tornado was 1 mile wide and was on the ground for 219 miles the longest continuous tornado path ever observed. 85 farms were destroyed near Owensville, Indiana, and the entire town of Griffin, Indiana, was totally destroyed. A total of 695 deaths were reported with 2,027 injured there alone from that single tornado alone. There was $16.5 million worth of damage or almost a quarter of a billion in 2021 dollars. 11 other tornadoes the same day killed 50 more elsewhere, including 33 at a school in Desoto, IL.
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