Freaks of the Storm

On May 27, 1896, an F4 tornado walked through St. Louis, leaving a mile-wide path of devastation and playing some violent pranks along the way.

Above, wheat straws were forced half an inch into the body of one tree.

Below, a gardener’s shovel was driven 6 inches into another tree, and a 2×4 pine scantling was shot through 5/8″ of solid iron on the Eads Bridge, “the pine stick protruding several feet through the iron side of the roadway, exemplifying the old principle of shooting a candle through a board.”

George Washington University meteorologist Willis Moore also saw “a six by eight piece of timber driven four feet almost straight down into the hard compact soil.” The confirmed death toll is 255, but additional bodies may have floated off down the Mississippi.