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March Tornado Statistics shows March to be a dangerous monthTornadoes March 1959 to 2006
Total Reported Tornadoes 2702

4 F5    44 F4     198 F3    554 F2   980 F1    922 F0

In March 30% of all tornadoes have been classified as strong/violent.  March is a deadly tornado month with over 357 deaths reported just from 1959 to 2006. We need to be prepared for violent and dangerous weather in March.  24 of the tornadoes reported during March had a path longer than 50 miles.

March: Comes in like a lion goes out like a lamb (or vice versa)…
Most of us have heard this age old adage, but when the thoughts of a lion-like March come to our mind what are we really picturing? Probably strong gusty winds, perhaps a few cold blustery days, maybe even some snow, but how many of us picture an F5 tornado ripping through a city? Although across America March usually is not thought of as a month of tornadoes, you might be surprised to find out that through America's history March has been the setting for many horrific scenes in which tornadoes played a large role.

Let's travel back to the year 1871, it's March 8th and perhaps the people of this time too believed March to be a relatively safe month. However, the people of the St. Louis, Missouri and St. Clair, Illinois area soon discovered that even in March deadly tornadoes can form. An F3 tornado is documented as ripping apart docks and destroying six railroad depots. Fortunately only 9 deaths occurred, but the injuries were reported as somewhere around 60 people.

Moving forward in time to March 27, 1890, another devastating tornado played itself out on American soil. This tornado checked in on the charts as an F4, at times reaching 500 yards wide. It struck Jefferson, Kentucky and Clark, Indiana ripping through Louisville Kentucky at its widest, possibly most destructive point. It leveled multi-story buildings downtown and left the people of this area with a whopping $2,500,000 bill in damages. It continued into Jeffersonville, Indiana, having now weakened to an F2, but added another $500,000 to the total cost of damages. This destructive F4 killed 76 people and caused 200 injuries, covering a radius of 15 miles.

A very memorable March tornado struck Omaha, Nebraska, on the 23rd in 1913 and caused 103 deaths. This tornado reached an F4 on the Fujita scale and wrecked havoc across 40 miles of land. When the monster tornado reached Omaha, Nebraska, it completely destroyed many homes and damaged numerous others also. The total financial setback was about $5,000,000. March 23, 1913, spawned many more tornadoes across the land, most of which seem to have been very large, long-lived tornadoes. Among these is an F3 that struck Craig, Nebraska injuring many, an F4 that killed 22 people in the area of Mead, Nebraska, an F4 that tore through the area of Council Bluffs, killing 25, and many other equally destructive tornadoes. The total of deaths of that day reached a high number and the people of Nebraska and surrounding areas were left with large monetary casualties and for many the loss of their homes.

March 11, 1917 was another day in which tornadoes made a large appearance. On this day, before spring had even reached the land, Indiana and Ohio were the targets of these spiraling clouds of destruction. In New Castle, Indiana, an F4 tornado reached the edge of town and damaged and destroyed 350 buildings. Twenty-four people were killed and 110 were injured, and monetary losses totaled in at $575,000. However the day would also bring destruction to many small towns and farms of Ohio, killing approximately 4 more people.

Don't fall into thinking though that March tornadoes are just part of history. Moving forward in time to the more recent past, take a look at March 21, 1991. On this day three large tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma. One of these tornadoes, an F3, traveled along the edge of Ada, and damaged over 130 homes, destroying six of these. The cost of damages came in at $950,000. On this same day in Oklahoma, an F2 damaged and flipped many mobile homes, injuring five children. Oklahoma was also hit by another F2 on March 21; this one caused approximately $355,000 worth of damage. Interesting to note though is, unlike the terror twisters that struck in the late 1800's and early 1900's these tornadoes did not kill anyone. This is due to the improved national weather system and the ability to predict tornadoes much more accurately. So this March keep in mind, although classic tornado season may not have begun, keep your eye on the sky and make sure you are always aware of the weather.  Remember March 2005?
Tornado Location Map from March 12thTornado Outbreak Missouri March 12th 2006 Report
Springfield Illinois 2006 Tornado Report
 

Storm track of Tri-State Tornado - Courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of CommerceMarch is the month of the great Tri-State Tornado that had a path of 300 miles long as seen in this historic map on the left. The Tri-State Tornado was the longest-lived and had the longest path of any recorded tornado. It traveled from SE Missouri to Indiana and killed over 600.  Image ID: wea00237, Historic NWS Collection Location: Missouri, Illinois, Indiana Photo Date: 1925 March 18

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