marks 90th anniversary of third-deadliest tornado on record
line trekked 293 miles across Illinois, killed 101, injured 638 and
decimated property and towns
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[May 26, 2007]
May 26, 1917, 3:30 p.m.,
Mattoon: "...the approaching storm appeared as a low, boiling mass
of clouds, one part a little to the north and the other a little to
the south. The parts seemed to roll toward one another, coming
together and downward like the meshing of a pair of cog-wheels. " --
eyewitness accounts from the meteorologist's survey
The tornado that descended on Charleston and Mattoon that day was
later determined to be an F4 on the Fujita scale.
The National Weather Service in Lincoln has just released
research compiled and written by staff member Chris Geelhart. The
article includes forecasts of the storm, weather details as the
storm passed and pictures of the aftermath.
Interesting in the review was that people who observed the
tornado as it crossed Illinois from near the Mississippi River up to
when it reached Mattoon saw a classic twister shape with a tail. The
place where changed form is where it wreaked its greatest
The article includes many details of interest, including news
reports and oddities such as, "Many birds completely lost their
Mattoon/Charleston Tornado of May 26, 1917."