List of tornadoes causing 100 or more deaths
This is a list of the deadliest tornadoes in world history. This list includes confirmed individual tornadoes which caused 100 or more direct fatalities.
The deadliest tornadoes by far have occurred in a small area of Bangladesh and East India. In this 8,000-square-mile (21,000 km2) area (roughly the size of New Hampshire), 24 of the 42 tornadoes which are known to have killed 100 or more people occurred. This is probably due to the high population density and poor economic status of the area, as well as a lack of early-warning system.
Most of the rest occurred in the United States in 1953 or earlier, before tornado prediction efforts began in earnest.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (July 2013)|
There are many sources of uncertainty in the statistics mentioned on this page. Before the 20th century, and even until recently in third-world countries, records-keeping was spotty at best. Before the American Civil War, slave deaths were often not included in tornado death tolls. Fatalities of African-Americans in the Southern US were routinely not counted through the 1940s and in some cases into the 1950s. Most tornadoes from many decades ago had no official government report on damage or casualties, so statistics must be compiled from local newspapers, which are not always a reliable, consistent, or comprehensive source. Many death tolls were published with people still missing, or with people critically injured and likely to die later. News media, Red Cross, and other counts don't necessarily distinguish whether a death was directly caused by a tornado and can include deaths during cleanup efforts. Routine counting of fatalities began in the US in the 1950s. In Bangladesh and India, exact populations of towns were often not known, so most death figures are approximate. Individual tornado descriptions go into more detail on these uncertainties. Officials in some areas, for example in Russia (and the USSR) and parts of Europe, until recent years denied that tornadoes occur in those areas thus fatalities may not be counted as tornadic.
There is also meteorological uncertainty with the nature of many tornadoes on this list. Before the 1970s, and even now outside of North America, most tornado paths were not thoroughly surveyed to ensure that the storm was indeed a single tornado and not a series of tornadoes from the same storm (a tornado family). Often a single supercell can produce a new tornado soon after or even before the demise of an old tornado, giving the appearance to many observers that a single tornado has caused all the damage. On this list, if it is likely that the tornado was in fact two or more tornadoes, it will appear in italics.
|1||Daultipur and Salturia||Bangladesh||1989-04-26||1300||12,000||Probably the deadliest tornado in recorded world history, this storm destroyed everything but a few trees from Daultipur to Salturia.|
|2||Tri-State||US||1925-03-18||695||2027||†Unlike most historical long-track tornadoes, this was probably a single tornado, not a tornado family, although it partly or completely destroyed more than ten towns. The path length of 219 miles (352 km) is a world record. The death toll of 689 is the official National Weather Service total, however, the Red Cross lists a total of 695, and the death toll was probably even higher due to injured people who died after the fact.|
|3||Manikganj, Singair and Nawabganj||Bangladesh||1973-04-17||681||Unknown||The village of Balurchar was completely destroyed, with eight other villages almost totally leveled.|
|4||1969 East Pakistan Tornado||East Pakistan, Pakistan (now Bangladesh)||1969-4-14||660||Unknown|
|5||Grand Harbour at Valletta||Malta||1551-09-23||600||Unknown||†Waterspout destroyed a shipping armada, then moved ashore, causing severe damage. The storm may have occurred in 1556; sources conflict.|
|6||Magura and Narail Districts'||Bangladesh||1964-04-11||500||Unknown||†Wiped seven villages off the map. The death toll may have been as high as 1400, but official records conflict. There were no survivors from the village of Bhabanipur, where around 400 people lived.|
|7||Sicily||Italy||December 1851||500||Unknown||†Two waterspouts moved onshore at the western end of the island, becoming large, violent tornadoes. This was as a pair of tornadoes, but details are very scarce; it may have been a single multiple-vortex tornado.|
|8||Madaripur and Shibchar||Bangladesh||1977-04-01||500||Unknown||All buildings and trees in Madaripur and Shibchar were destroyed.|
|9||Belyanitsky, Ivanovo, and Balino||Russia||1984-06-09||400||213||†|
|10||Natchez, MS||US||1840-05-06||317||109||†Killed hundreds in boats on the Mississippi River. May have killed and injured hundreds more slaves on plantations outside of the city; however, slave deaths were traditionally not included in official totals.|
|11||North of Cooch Behar and surrounding area||India,
|1963-04-19||300||Unknown||Touched down near Cooch Behar, India, and passed across the extreme northern tip of Bangladesh. Debris was found 30 miles (48 km) away from the damaged area. One source only mentions 139 deaths.|
|12||Bhakua and Haripur unions||Bangladesh||1972-04-29||300||Unknown|||
|13||Comilla||Bangladesh||1969-04-14||263||Unknown||Spawned by a separate storm from the Dhaka tornado, which killed 660 earlier in the day.|
|14||St. Louis and East St. Louis||US||1896-05-27||255||1000||†Destroyed a large section of downtown in both cities. This death toll probably does not include people living in shanty boats on the Mississippi River.|
|15||Border of Orissa and West Bengal||India||1998-03-24||250||Unknown|||
|16||Tupelo, MS||US||1936-04-05||216||700||†Destroyed several hundred homes in the city, many of good construction. Over 100 people were still in hospitals when this official death toll was published, so the actual death toll may be higher.|
|17||Calcutta||India||1838-04-08||215||Unknown||Moved very slowly (6 mph, 10 km/h) through the eastern suburbs of Calcutta, sweeping the ground clean in some places.|
|18||Faridpur and Dhaka Districts||Bangladesh||1961-03-19||210||Unknown|||
|19||Gainesville, GA||US||1936-04-06||203||1600||†In the same outbreak as the Tupelo tornado, destroyed a large section of downtown at the start of the work day. Forty people were still missing when this death toll was published.|
|20||14 miles southwest of Mymensingh||Bangladesh||1972-04-01||200||Unknown||†A fifteen square mile (38 km2) area was "wiped clean".|
|23||Parshuram, Fulgazi, Somarpur, and Sonagazi||Bangladesh||1981-04-12||200||Unknown|||
|24||Higgins, TX; Woodward, OK||US||1947-04-09||181||970||This death toll may be inflated, as this storm was certainly a family of two or more tornadoes. However, at least 107 were killed in Woodward alone by a single tornado, where 100 city blocks were flattened.|
|25||Jaipur and Keonjhar Districts||India||1978-04-16||173||Unknown|||
|26||Joplin, MO||US||2011-05-22||162||1,100||EF5 tornado struck the southern part of the city along a west-to-east path .75 miles (1.21 km) wide by 22.1 miles (35.6 km) long, destroying one of two hospitals in the city.|
|28||Amite, LA and Purvis, MS||US||1908-04-24||143||770||Deaths scattered across two states; highest toll in Purvis where 143 of the town's 150 houses were demolished.|
|29||Naria, Zajira and Bhederganj||Bangladesh||1908-04-24||141||Unknown|||
|31||Kapundi, Erandi, Dhanbeni and Rengalbeda||Bangladesh||1981-04-17||120||Unknown|||
|34||New Richmond, WI||US||1899-06-12||117||200||Struck the town just as a circus was ending, probably inflating the death toll.|
|35||Flint, MI||US||1953-06-08||116||844||Destroyed a one mile stretch of houses on Coldwater Road.|
|36||Waco, TX||US||1953-05-11||114||597||Thirty or more were killed in a six-story furniture store when it collapsed, with several others killed in cars by the falling bricks.|
|37||Goliad, TX||US||1902-05-18||114||250||Around 100 buildings destroyed. Killed 85 initially, with the rest dying from their injuries later.|
|38||Mokshedpur, Bhanga and Tungipara||Bangladesh||1977-04-02||111||Unknown|||
|39||Omaha, NE||US||1913-03-23||103||350||Cut a 0.25 mile (0.4 km) gouge through the city, destroying or damaging almost 2000 homes.|
|40||Mattoon and Charleston, IL||US||1917-05-26||101||638||In the past, this was plotted as a record-length 293-mile (472-km) long tornado path, killing 110, but scientists now know that it was a family of at least four tornadoes. A single tornado killed at least 93 people in and near these two cities, and 101 deaths is the best modern estimate for a single tornado.|
|41||Shinnston, WV||US||1944-06-23||100||381||†Cut a remarkably continuous path at least 60 miles (97 km) through mountainous terrain. Most deaths occurred in a 10-mile (16-km) stretch near Shinnston. May have killed one more in Pine Grove, Wetzel County.|
|42||11 miles West of Bogra||Bangladesh||1974-04-11||100||Unknown|||
- *This was probably not a single tornado, but a tornado family (a group of tornadoes formed by the same supercell). However, it is impossible to tell from historical records, so officially they are recorded as a single tornado.
- †May have been higher.
- #Most injury figures are approximate
- Finch, Jonathan D.; Dewan, Ashraf M. "Tornados in Bangladesh and East India ". Accessed 2009-01-25.
- *Finch, Jonathan D. "List of 86 tornados in Bengal for 1838-2001". Accessed June 15, 2007.
- Grazulis, pg. 796
- TORRO. "British & European Tornado Extremes". Accessed June 26, 2007.
- Waterspout on the starboard bow Accessed 2009-01-25.
- Grazulis, pgs. 559-560
- Grazulis p. 128
- Grazulis, pgs. 676-677
- Grazulis, pg. 866
- Grazulis, pgs. 865-866
- Grazulis, pg. 927
- "Storm Event Survey". NWS. Retrieved 24 June 2011.
- Kevin Murphy (May 31, 2011). "Missouri officials continue identifying tornado dead". Reuters. Retrieved May 31, 2011.
- Becky Kellogg (June 9, 2011). "Joplin, Mo Tornado Seventh Deadliest in U.S.". weather.com.
- Grazulis, pg. 713
- Grazulis, pg. 688
- Grazulis, pg. 974
- Grazulis, pg. 970
- Grazulis, pg. 695
- Grazulis, pg. 737
- Grazulis, pg. 752
- Grazulis, pg. 915
- Grazulis, Thomas P (July 1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680–1991. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. ISBN 1-879362-03-1.
|10 deadliest American tornadoes|
|1||"Tri-State" (Missouri, Illinois and Indiana)||March 18, 1925||695|
|2||Natchez, Mississippi||May 7, 1840||317|
|3||St. Louis, Missouri and East St. Louis, Illinois||May 27, 1896||255|
|4||Tupelo, Mississippi||April 5, 1936||216|
|5||Gainesville, Georgia||April 5, 1936||203|
|6||Woodward, Oklahoma||April 9, 1947||181|
|7||Joplin, Missouri||May 22, 2011||158|
|8||Amite, Louisiana and Purvis, Mississippi||April 24, 1908||143|
|9||New Richmond, Wisconsin||June 12, 1899||117|
||June 8, 1953
Source: Storm Prediction Center
|10 deadliest Canadian tornadoes|
|1||Regina Cyclone||June 30, 1912||≥28|
|2||Edmonton tornado||July 31, 1987||27|
|3||Windsor–Tecumseh, Ontario tornado||June 17, 1946||17|
|4||Pine Lake, Alberta tornado||July 14, 2000||12|
Windsor, Ontario tornado
|August 16, 1888
April 3, 1974
|7||Barrie, Ontario tornado||May 31, 1985||8|
|=8||Sudbury, Ontario tornado
Sainte-Rose, Quebec tornado
|August 20, 1970
June 8, 1953
|=10||Bouctouche, New Brunswick tornado
Portage la Prairie, Manitoba tornado
|August 6, 1879
June 22, 1922
Sources: Environment Canada (PDF)