IL, IN, MO, PA Tornadoes Sweep through Midwest, Mar 1948
Tornadoes Sweep through Midwest; 52 killed, 300 hurt
CHICAGO, March 19 — Tornadoes and high winds cut a path from Texas to New York today, killing at least fifty-two persons and injuring more than 300.
The storm started in Texas, hit seven Midwestern states — Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri and Kansas — struck Pennsylvania and came to an end in up-state New York.
Estimates of property damage ran to several millions of dollars.
The hardest hit area was southern Macoupin County in Illinois, northeast of St. Louis. State police reported forty-one deaths in that area and a swath of flattened homes from a twister which swept four communities.
The storm crest formed in Texas last night, with warm air building up a sharp high pressure area. As it began moving northeastward into lower pressure and colder air a squall line developed which formed tornadoes in Texas and Oklahoma,
Winds Hit 100-Mile Speed
Rushing across Missouri and Illinois, the disturbance built up wind speeds which reached 100 miles an hour at Kokomo, Ind., and ninety-five miles an hour at the Indianapolis airport, where the cups were blown off a whirling
wind speed indicator.
A swirling twister which formed near Alton, III., hit Fosterburg, a community of 100 dwellings, wrecking or damaging almost every building there and killing thirteen persons. Bunker Hill, a
and 80 per cent of the town was leveled, with damage estimated at 5500,000. Four were killed and a number of homes were destroyed in Woodburn.
The tornado then bore down on Gillespie, a town of 2,500 population, sounding "like a string of box cars rolling down the track," as a resident described it. Five persons were killed and damage was heavy here. Apparently the twister then lifted and dissipated. Another tornado hit northwestern Ohio, causing four deaths.
Two children died at Landeck in Mercer County when the steeple of a demolished church fell on a prochial school One man was killed at Ottawa, Ohio, when a barn collapsed. At Urbana, Ohio, a 60-yearold man was electrocuted when a high-tension line fell on him.
In northern Kentucky strong winds blew down a barn, crushing a Bracken County farmer and his five-year-old son. In Michigan, a five-year-old boy was killed at Flat Rock when a barn toppled on him. The Red Cross at St. Louis said two persons were killed in Washington County, Mo.
In New York State, just east of the Pennsylvania border, a motorist was killed when the wind blew his automobile into a parked car. In Erie, Pa., a pedestrian was killed while trying to cross a windswept street. Witnesses said the wind was so strong it blew people off their feet.
The squall line raced across central New York during the afternoon but wind velocity was lessened. However, gusts up to sixty-two miles an hour sipped roofs from some buildings and flattened some structures.
Pennsylvania also was buffeted by high winds. Mount Pleasant, in the western part, reported that roofs and porches were ripped off by the fierce winds. There was considerable property damage but no deaths or serious injuries.
The New York Times, March 20, 1948