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The Great Cyclone At St. Louis, May 27, 1896

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The following is the text that accompanied a small published picture book of photographs of the destruction caused by the St. Louis tornado of May 27, 1896. The text is noteworthy because it provides a glimpse of the havoc and human suffering caused by a major weather disaster striking a large metropolitan area. It is also of interest because it is one of the first descriptions of a large tornado striking a modern urban area dependent on electrical power and other integrated utility services. The disruption of transportation and communications systems evident in this disaster is eerily reminiscent of problems associated with recent natural disasters. However, recent disasters of similar or greater magnitude, such as the Oklahoma City tornadoes of May 4, 1999, have not caused as great of loss of life because of vastly improved observation and warning networks established by the National Weather Service and cooperating private and public radio and television networks.


Photos courtesy NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) Collection


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