1974 Super Tornado Outbreak Began in Illinois

Twelve of 148 Tornadoes in Outbreak Were in Illinois; Event Was 50 Years Ago This Week


By Tom Emery

The so-called “Super Outbreak” of tornadoes over April 3-4, 1974 remains one of the worst tornado events in American history. Few remember that it began in Illinois.

Fifty years ago this week, the outbreak produced 148 tornadoes that ripped across 13 states and the Canadian province of Ontario, costing 319 lives and leaving over 5,400 injuries. At one point, sixteen tornadoes were on the ground at the same time.

The most significant was the twister that leveled much of the town of Xenia, in southwestern Ohio, where 32 people lost their lives. The Xenia tornado remains one of the w...

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