How strong were the winds from the 1925 Tri-State Tornado?

Dear Tom,

How strong were the winds from the 1925 Tri-State Tornado and how much damage did it do to the towns?


Dear Kirk,

The Tri-state tornado of March 18, 1925 is the deadliest single tornado on record. Other “super-tornadoes” have occurred, such as the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Joplin, Missouri tornadoes of 2011. None of these compare to the Tri-state disaster in terms of casualties (695) and path length (219 miles). Few images of the tornado exist, but it has been determined that this was a multi-vortex EF-5 tornado, producing winds upward of 200 mph. Several towns across southern Illinois were completely destroyed. Debate continues as to whether this was a single tornado, or a family of twisters since such an extraordinary path length seems highly unlikely. However, a 2013 study concluded that the Tri-state path included a main tornado that was on the ground for 219 miles.