The middle Mississippi Valley tornado outbreak was a major tornado outbreak occurring in the middle United States on March 27, 1890. To this day, this outbreak is still one of the most deadly tornado events in U.S. history. At least 24 significant tornadoes were recorded to have spawned from this system, and at least 146 people were killed by tornadoes that day.
The most notable of the spawned tornadoes was one measuring F4 on the Fujita scale, which visited Louisville, Kentucky. The tornado carved a path from the Parkland neighborhood all the way to Crescent Hill, destroying 766 buildings ($2½ million worth of property - a little over $1 billion in current dollars) and killing an estimated 76 to 120 people. At least 55 of those deaths occurred when the Falls City Hall collapsed. This is one of the highest death tolls due to a single building collapse from a tornado in U.S. history. In addition, it was one of the 25 most deadly tornadoes in U.S. history until May 22, 2011. It was relegated to 26th when the May 22, 2011, tornado in Joplin, Missouri, killed 158.
The day after the destruction, the Louisville Courier-Journal labeled the tornado "the whirling tiger of the air".
Due to the fast pace of reconstruction, there was almost no sign of this tornado having occurred just one year later.
|F#||Location||County||Time (UTC)||Path length||Damage|
|F2||S of Ste. Genevieve||Ste. Genevieve, Randolph (IL)||2100||7 miles (11 km)||A church was struck in Missouri, before the tornado crossed into Illinois and destroyed a barn.|
|F2||Bloomsdale area||Ste. Genevieve||2100||5 miles (8.0 km)||Four homes were destroyed in Bloomsdale.|
|F2||SW of Rockwood, IL, to E of Sunfield||Perry, Randolph (IL), Jackson (IL), Perry (IL)||2100||33 miles (53 km)||3 deaths -- Trees with trunks 18 inches (1.5 ft) thick were carried from the Missouri side of the river into Illinois. Fatalities occurred near Rockwood, Shiloh Hill, and Campbell. Homes were unroofed near Sunfield as well. An F5 tornado also hit Sunfield on December 18, 1957.|
|F4||Grand Tower, IL/Poplar Ridge areas||Cape Girardeau, Perry, Jackson (IL)||2220||30 miles (48 km)||7 deaths -- Tornado began near Shawneetown before crossing into Illinois. The tornado struck the town of Grand Tower, where 27 homes were destroyed, some of which were swept away. Four people died in Grand Tower. Several homes were leveled at the small community of Poplar Ridge (south of Murphysboro) as well, where two people died. At least 80 people were injured before the tornado lifted north of Carbondale.|
|F3||E of Charleston to Bird's Point||Mississippi, Ballard (KY)||2225||20 miles (32 km)||4 deaths -- Tornado struck the communities of Huff's Station and Bird's Point. A family of four was killed in Huff's Station, where several buildings were destroyed and trees were debarked. At least 8 buildings were destroyed at Bird's Point. Five others were injured. Tornado continued into Kentucky before dissipating.|
|F4||NE of Scott City to Stonefort, IL||Scott, Alexander (IL), Union (IL), Johnson (IL), Williamson (IL)||2245||55 miles (89 km)||2 deaths -- A tornado family began northwest of Thebes, Illinois, then crossed into Illinois. It destroyed two-dozen farm homes around the communities of Mill Creek, Springville (now a ghost town south of Jonesboro), and Mt. Pleasant. Additional homes were destroyed near Vienna. A school was destroyed near Stonefort, and seats from that location were found 2 miles (3.2 km) away. 30 people were injured.|
|F2||NW of Belleville||St. Clair||2115||8 miles (13 km)||1 death -- Three homes were destroyed and one person was killed near Centreville. Two people were injured near Cahokia as well. A total of seven people were injured along the path.|
|F2||S of McClure||Alexander||2230||unknown||A house and a barn were destroyed.|
|F3||W of Sparta to NE of Nashville||Randolph, Perry, Washington, Jefferson||2315||40 miles (64 km)||1 death -- A man was killed in the Pollander community. The community of Little Prairie was completely destroyed. At least two or three tornadoes were likely involved.|
|F2||Olney area||Richland||2330||6 miles (9.7 km)||A farm home was destroyed near the beginning of the path, and 32 homes were damaged or destroyed in town. Many businesses were unroofed and 5 people were injured. Caused $50,000 in damage.|
|F2||SW of Xenia||Wayne, Clay||0000||10 miles (16 km)||Tornado struck eight homes and 20 barns.|
|F2||W of Carmi to Crossville||White||0000||5 miles (8.0 km)||1 death -- Multiple homes were destroyed along the path.|
|F3||SW of Owensville||Posey, Gibson||0200||25 miles (40 km)||Tornado blew apart buildings on 15 farms, including at least five homes.|
|F4||E of Kevil to West Louisville||McCracken, Massac(IL), Pope(IL), Livingston, Crittenden, Webster, Daviess||2315||95 miles (153 km)||21+ deaths -- Tornado began in Kentucky and crossed into Illinois and struck Metropolis, where over 100 buildings were unroofed or blown over, $150,000 in damage was done, and one person was killed. Tornado crossed back into Kentucky and traveled across rural areas, destroying homes, trees, and causing numerous fatalities. May have been a tornado family.|
|F4||NW of Benton to E of Eddyville||Marshall, Lyon||0000||25 miles (40 km)||7 deaths -- Half of the buildings were destroyed in Grand Rivers, and forests, homes, and farms were destroyed in rural areas. Three people died in homes near Kuttawa and Eddyville. 50 people were injured.|
|F4||W of Shively to Jeffersonville, IN||Jefferson, Clark (IN)||0057||15 miles (24 km)||76+ deaths -- Tornado tore through the Parkland neighborhood, leveling multiple homes. The tornado went on to strike downtown Louisville, where several multi-story buildings were reduced to rubble. The Falls City Hall was completely leveled, and 55 fatalities occurred there. Caused $2,500,000 in damage. Damage occurred in Indiana as well, but it is not clear if it was from a tornado or downburst winds.|
|F2||N of Patesville to S of Knottsville||Daviess, Hancock||0100||25 miles (40 km)||2 deaths -- Fatalities occurred in destroyed homes.|
|F2||SE of Cadiz to W of Hopkinsville||Trigg, Christian||0100||10 miles (16 km)||Farm homes were destroyed. Caused $30,000 in damage.|
|F3||S of Eminence to N of Pleasureville||Shelby, Henry||0115||5 miles (8.0 km)||3 deaths -- Four farm homes were destroyed, with a family of three killed at one of them. 10 people were injured.|
|F4||NW of Hartford to Rineyville area||Ohio, Grayson, Breckenridge, Hardin||0200||60 miles (97 km)||7 deaths -- Likely a tornado family. Many small farming communities and acres of forest were leveled along the path. Homes reportedly "vanished" near Sulphur Springs and Falls of Rough. Long-time residents compared the damage to that of another tornado which destroyed Big Spring on March 19, 1849.|
|F3||S of Scottsville to near Tracy||Barren, Allen||0300||15 miles (24 km)||4+ deaths -- Multiple homes were destroyed along the path. At least 20 people were injured. May have killed up to 17 people.|
|F3||N of Gallatin to E of Westmoreland||Sumner, Macon||0245||15 miles (24 km)||5+ deaths -- All eight homes and two stores were destroyed in the small community of Rogana (south of Bethpage). May have killed upwards of 20 people in rural areas.|
|F2||NE of Fosterville to SE of Murfreesboro||Rutherford||0330||10 miles (16 km)||Homes were destroyed in the southern part of the county.|
|F2||Fayetteville||Lincoln||0400||unknown||1 death -- Forty homes were damaged or destroyed in the NW part of Fayetteville. One person was crushed to death under a wall. 15 others were injured.|
|Sources: Grazulis (1993)|