Why Was the Word “Tornado” Banned at the Time?

At the time the word “tornado” had been banned since 1887 by the Army Signal Corps, the leading weather branch of the U.S. governemtnt at the time, since they had no means of warning people or predicting the path or severity of tornados.

Via/ Flickr
Murphysboro, IL. Via/ NOAA
Model-T destroyed by the 1925 monster tornado in Owensville, IN. Via/ Wiki Commons

The thought was that using the term only served to rile the public into a frenzy, igniting panic among the helpless who might or might not be in a tornado’s path. The term wasn’t even allowed to be used by forecasters in public, let alone when referencing potential storms.

The Aftermath

It wouldn’t be until 20 years after the Tri-state Tornado Outbreak that any means of officially forecasting, spotting, and warning the public about tornados was in effect. But, 1925 marks the year that an informal networkof tornado spotters formed, attempting to warn folks so this sort of loss of life would not happen again.

Damage to buildings, Griffin, IN. Via/ Wiki Commons
Board driven into tree can hold the weight of a man hanging from it. Murphysboro, IL. Via/ NOAA

The storms also caused severe flooding and fires which meant that many towns were devastated. What’s worse is that many communities were yet not done rebuilding when the stock market crashed in 1929, leaving them in the lurch until after World War II was over.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t until 30 years after the horrible day that storm chasing began to catch on as a hobby.

You can see aerial footage of the damage in the video below.

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