89 years after Tri-State Tornado, scientists dispel myth - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

89 years after Tri-State Tornado, scientists dispel myth

The 2014 severe weather workshop was held in Paducah on Tuesday and one of many topics discussed was the 89th anniversary of the Tri-State Tornado.

Recent research suggests that actually two tornadoes carved a combined path of destruction more than 230 miles long and, at times, up to three miles wide.

Nearly 700 people lost their lives and more than 2,000 were injured.

The twister spawned near Ellington, Missouri and gained F5 strength as it moved across the Mississippi River and through southern Illinois.

The tornado didn't let up until it crossed into southern Indiana.

Pat Spoden with the National Weather Service says the Tri-State Tornado, widely considered the deadliest and longest-lived in history, is still heavily researched decades later.

"Unfortunately, it's one of those disasters you look back on, but not necessarily something you want to look back on," said Spoden. "But it is the anniversary of the 1925 tornado. Basically the deadliest, longest lasting tornado we know of happened right here in our area. The problem is, it's happened once and it's always possible to happen again."

Overall, 13 counties sustained catastrophic damage in the span of four hours.

Damage was estimated well over $2 billion by today's inflation rate.

Spoden adds that advances in technology and a growing number in storm spotters would hopefully increase vital warning time ahead of the storm.

It's important to keep warning devices such as cell phones, radios and TV sets nearby when severe weather threatens.

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