On July 12, 2023, eight tornadoes hit Chicago, Illinois, causing widespread damage and striking fear into the hearts of residents and travelers alike.
Unfortunately, the US is no stranger to tornadoes. But if you really want to stay out of the twisters’ way, we recommend skipping these 10 cities on your next tornado-season road trip across America.
Thanks to its location in the Ozarks, Springfield is full of natural wonders — and, at times, natural disasters. In December 2018, during a time of year that was nowhere close to tornado season, six tornadoes touched down in the city, wreaking havoc and reminding residents to always expect the unexpected.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Like its fellow Iowa city Des Moines, Cedar Rapids is an easy target for severe weather. In addition to flooding possible due to its Cedar River, tornadoes are fairly common here, with the worst hitting the town in 1954. Back then, a category F4 storm tossed farmhouses and barns into the air and blew them away in Linn County, with other homes being hit by damaging lightning, floods, and extensive power outages.
Austin is not actually the most tornado-prone city in Texas, but it is close. Located just outside the area known as Tornado Alley, this busy metropolitan city should normally see fewer tornadoes than other areas. In 1922, though, it was hit with a double whammy: an F2 and F4 tornado that worked together to rip the city apart and cause over $400,000 worth of damage.
St. Louis, Missouri
You may recognize St. Louis by its Gateway Arch landmark, which, thankfully, hasn’t yet been destroyed by the tornadoes that have been known to hit the city. St. Louis holds the record for the third deadliest tornado in US history, which happened in 1896. In 2011, another big storm hit the city, causing an incredible $30 million worth of damage.
Fargo, North Dakota
Fargo is famous for more than just the film and television series named after it. There was a terrible tornado outbreak here in 1957, which Ted Fujita, who created the Fujita Scale that rates the intensity of tornadoes, studied extensively to help develop the different storm categories in his system.
Columbus is a lively city full of parks and recreational areas, with a booming economy and a bustling community. In 2018, though, an EF1 tornado hit the region, damaging a significant portion of the city even without the funnel fully touching down.
San Antonio, Texas
Remember how we said Austin wasn’t the biggest tornado magnet in Texas? Now meet San Antonio. This big city is also technically just outside of Tornado Alley, but it still has numerous strong storms and twisters. In 2017, for instance, four tornadoes damaged many structures in the city beyond repair. By that same time the next year, most of the residents of the hardest-hit areas had moved away to find a calmer area to live in.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock is one of the oldest cities in the American South and has been around for more than 300 years. During that time, it has been hit with more than a few tornadoes — so many, in fact, that is is a part of Arkansas’ own Tornado Alley, where a high number of tornado deaths have been reported.
Jackson, Mississippi, can be found on the Jackson Prairie, which gives it enough open space to be inviting for tornadoes. Those terrible twisters are pretty common here, with the Clarion Ledger reporting 181 tornadoes in or around the city in 2022.
Louisville is known for some great things, like legendary boxer Muhammad Ali and the Kentucky Derby, but it is also known for some of the worst tornado outbreaks in history. In 1890, the city was hit hard by an intensely strong tornado (thought to be an F4) that destroyed Downtown Louisville. The city and its surrounding areas were also more recently hit by a terrible tornado outbreak in December 2021, with the National Weather Service reporting 89 tornadoes touching down during this catastrophic, unseasonable event that caused almost a hundred deaths across several states and close to $4 billion in damage.
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