Are Tornadoes More Deadly Today?

May 26, 2013, by Ken Jorgustin

Deadliest Tornadoes

Many people believe that tornadoes are getting worse and/or more deadly than they have been before. Since we so often hear about severe weather, storms, and tornadoes in the news, one cannot help but wonder if things are getting worse.

Here is some perspective regarding deadly tornadoes…


 

Top 10 Deadliest Tornadoes

 
1. 1925
Missouri-Illinois-Indiana
F-5 Tornado
Dead: 695
Injured: 2,027

2. 1840
Louisiana-Mississippi
F-? Tornado
Dead: 317
Injured: 109

3. 1896
Missouri-Illinois
F-4 Tornado
Dead: 255
Injured: 1,000

4. 1936
Mississippi
F-5 Tornado
Dead: 216
Injured: 700

5. 1936
Georgia
F-4 Tornado
Dead: 203
Injured: 1,600

6. 1947
Texas-Oklahoma-Kansas
F-5 Tornado
Dead: 181
Injured: 970

7. 2011
Missouri
F-5 Tornado
Dead: 158
Injured: 1,000

8. 1908
Louisiana-Mississippi
F-4 Tornado
Dead: 143
Injured: 770

9. 1899
Wisconsin
F-5 Tornado
Dead: 117
Injured: 200

10. 1953
Michigan
F-5 Tornado
Dead: 115
Injured: 844

 
All except one of these top-10 deadliest tornadoes occurred before our ‘modern’ times. Even with our urban sprawl of today, still (and perhaps surprisingly) most all of the deadliest tornadoes have happened before any of this. Today we do have the advantage of early warning of severe weather, but we certainly cannot control or accurately predict when a tornado will actually spin up.

It does seem logical to reason that severe weather and tornadoes are probably no more severe or likely to occur than they were 50, 100 or more years ago… The primary difference being that today’s modern media and technology allows instant reporting of these events whereas years ago reporting was a snails pace.

Given that the most deadliest tornadoes that we know about took place so long ago, we might consider that fact while we are confronted with messaging that it’s worse today than ever before.

A tornado is just as deadly today as it was 100 years ago. We need to remain just as vigilant and take advantage of early warning systems (weather alert radios) and protection methods (storm shelter/cellar) during tornado season.

Our population is dramatically larger than it was during these top-10 deadliest tornadoes and although we have suffered terrible loss on occasion, we have been fortunate not to have broken into this top-10 list except for once recently. Let’s hope it stays that way.

We simply are at the mercy of Mother Nature and her forces, cycles and influences.
She just ‘is’ …