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NOAA/NWS 1925 Tri-State Tornado Web Site--Interesting Quotes

The legacy of the Tri-State Tornado remains with us today, primarily in printed material, such as books, newspapers, and personal journals.  Here, we’ll take a look at some interesting quotes derived from The Tri-State Tornado: The Story of America’s Greatest Tornado Disaster, a book written by Peter S. Felknor.

  • From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper dated March 20, 1925:

"All morning, before the tornado, it had rained. The day was dark and gloomy. The air was heavy. There was no wind. Then the drizzle increased. The heavens seemed to open, pouring down a flood. The day grew black…

Then the air was filled with 10,000 things. Boards, poles, cans, garments, stoves, whole sides of the little frame houses, in some cases the houses themselves, were picked up and smashed to earth. And living beings, too. A baby was blown from its mother’s arms. A cow, picked up by the wind, was hurled into the village restaurant."


  • In the same newspaper, a Gorham schoolgirl tells of her experience as the tornado wreaked havoc at the Gorham school:

"Then the wind struck the school. The walls seemed to fall in, all around us. Then the floor at one end of the building gave way. We all slipped or slid in that direction. If it hadn’t been for the seats it would have been like sliding down a cellar door.

I can’t tell you what happened then. I can’t describe it. I can’t bear to think about it. Children all around me were cut and bleeding. They cried and screamed. It was something awful. I had to close my eyes…"


  • Eugene Porter was living in Murphysboro when the storm hit:

"It was so wide … usually you think about a tornado, it has a funnel, and it may be a block or two or three blocks wide. But something about a mile wide, well it just—"


  • Also from the March 20 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a description of the horrible aftermath:

 "Scenes of suffering and horror marked the storm and fire. Throughout the night relief workers and ambulances endeavored to make their way through the streets strewn with wreckage, fallen telegraph poles and wires and burning embers. The only light afforded was that of the burning area…"


  • In The Tri-State Tornado, Mr. Felknor describes the scene that survivors confronted in the Southwest Indiana town of Griffin:

"When the cloud, bloated with debris and tons of river mud, had passed over a slight rise of land to the east of the village, it left behind a landscape that passed beyond the bounds of despair into unreality. The handful of unscathed citizens from Griffin and surrounding districts were confronted with destruction so complete that some could only guess where they had once lived. The search for family and friends had a special hellishness, as fires flickered over the ruins and the injured wandered about in a daze, mud so thoroughly embedded in their skin that identification was all but impossible."


Given what we now know about March 18, 1925, it’s interesting to reflect on the U.S. Weather Bureau’s forecast from that morning, which called for "rains and strong shifting winds". History, of course, proved that to be a huge understatement.



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