I can picture the scene. RE’s grandfather writing for his local newspaper declares the end of the world is at hand as hundreds of deadly tornadoes cross the Midwest. The year? 1896.
I wonder if it was global warming? Was it a message from God? Never before had there been such devastation. The doomsayers were in their glory. Repent. The end is near.
Or maybe, just maybe, some really cold air bumped into some really warm air and produced a bunch of tornadoes just like had happened for centuries before and will happen for centuries into the future.
And guess what, one of the largest tsunamis in history happened in 1896 too.
The 1896 Meiji-Sanriku earthquake hit Japan on a day when the country was celebrating both the return of soldiers from the Sinto Japanese War and a Shinto holiday. The 7.2 magnitude earthquake that took place was small but the tsunami that struck the coast of Sanriku 35 minutes later was much greater. Waves as high as 125 feet were measured and nearly 9,000 homes were destroyed. 22,070 were reported dead and an unusually high count of victims with fractured skulls and broken or missing limbs. Hawaii also suffered some destruction from the tsunami as waves of 30 feet were measured there.
It’s called nature. We have no control over it. Shit happens. Deal with it. The end of the world is not at hand as the professional doomsters will declare.
The 1896 St. Louis – East St. Louis tornado is a historic tornado event that occurred on Wednesday, May 27, 1896, as part of a major tornado outbreak across the Central United States on the 27th, continuing across the Eastern United States on the 28th. One of the deadliest and most destructive tornadoes in U.S. history, this very large, long-track, and violent tornado was the most notable of an outbreak which produced other large, long-track, violent, killer tornadoes. It caused over $10,000,000 in damage (1896).
The tornado spawned from the other supercell became the third deadliest and the most costly tornado in United States history. It touched down in St. Louis, Missouri, one of the largest and most influential cities in the country. 137 people died as the tornado traversed the core of the city leaving a mile wide (1.6 km) continuous swath of destroyed homes, schools, saloons, factories, mills, churches, parks, and railroad yards. More people probably died on boats on the Mississippi River as the bodies may have gone downriver. When the tornado crossed the river and hit East Saint Louis, Illinois, it was smaller but more intense. An additional 118 people were killed. The confirmed death toll is 255, with some estimates above 400. More than 1,000 were injured. The tornado was later rated F4 on the Fujita scale. Enough damage was done to the city that there was some question that St. Louis might not be able to host the 1896 Republican National Convention in June.
In what was apparently an intense tornado outbreak sequence, other major tornado outbreaks occurred on May 15, May 17, and May 24 – 25, with other smaller outbreaks during the month as well. The middle to end of May was extremely active but sparse records preclude knowing much detail. Tom Grazulis has stated that the week of May 24 – 28 was “perhaps the most violent single week of tornado activity in US history”.
The 1896 tornado season has the distinction of being the deadliest in United States history. There were at least 40 killer tornadoes spanning from April 11 to November 26; including this one, the only one to kill more than 100 people in two separate cities.