SPC Stats

Path length: 23.9 miles

Width:  200 yards

Fatalities:  21

Injuries:  345

Rating:  F4

County:  St. Louis, MO / Madison, IL

During the early morning of February 10, 1959, an estimated F4 tornado tracked through the St. Louis Metro area.  Per Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes, “the track of this tornado was not far from the tracks of major tornadoes in 1871, 1896, and 1927.”

This tornado began in the SW corner of St. Louis County near Sherman.  Several homes sustained minor damage in the early part of the track.  The first major damage was at the intersection of Manchester Road and Woodlawn in the southwest suburbs of St. Louis.  Many homes and stores lost their roof.  Trees and power lines were downed.  In the Forest Park area, heavy damage occurred to an arena roof.  A large TV tower was blown down.  Significant damage occurred to apartment buildings.  People were buried in the debris of collapsed buildings.

Per Grazulis, close to 2000 buildings were damaged or destroyed.  16 homes were leveled, and 100+ had major damage.

The tornado moved across the Mississippi River into the Venice-Granite City, IL area.  Not a great deal of details in Storm Data on damage here.  Grazulis mentions some factory damage.

You could make an argument that St. Clair County, IL, should be included in the path.  The official SPC coordinates do end in Madison County, but the track is close to St. Clair.  Grazulis does not include St. Clair in the path, but he does mention damage reported there in his summary of the event.

There were 345 injuries recorded due to this tornado and 21 fatalities.  

Tornado Path

Click Map To Enlarge

SPC coordinates:  Start: 38.53 / -90.60   End:  38.67 / -90.15 

Corrected Coordinates based on damage reports:

Start: 38.537150/-90.597358      End: 38.688730/-90.153553

Veer in path: 38.602971/-90.391364   

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Infographic from the NWS St. Louis


Newspaper Clippings


We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the February 1959 Storm Data Publication and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:

Path Length:

  • SPC/NCDC have a 23.9 mile path.
  • Grazulis has a length at 27 miles.
  • Storm Data lists a 25 mile path.  It only lists details for St. Louis County.


    The Storm Prediction Center

    NCDC Storm Events Database

    February 1959 Storm Data Publication

    1959 tornado in St. Louis left 21 dead and 345 injured – Article via St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    Luminosity Accompanying St. Louis Tornado – February 10, 1959 – A Monthly Review Weather Note by Bernard Vonnegut

    Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 1018.

    Questions or comments about this summary?  Contact us here!

    Join the tornado history discussion on our Discord Server!

    Note:  There are some images/videos in our summaries that were licensed to us to be used only on this website. If you would like to us an image/video in your project or blog, please contact us and we will grant permission if possible.

    Newspaper clips are embedded via newspapers.com. Please see their terms and conditions.


    Would you like to see more summaries like this one?  Support Tornado Talk on Patreon! Become a Patron!


    Leave a Reply

    Avatar placeholder
    Please be respectful of copyright. Unauthorized use is prohibited.