May 6, 1840
$1.26 mil. (1840)
$31.5 mil. (2014)
Town of Natchez
Town of Vidalia
The Natchez Tornado hit Natchez, Mississippi on May 7, 1840 at 1:45 PM on a Thursday. Unaware of its presence until it was already too late, more than 300 people were killed and another hundred injured. Some believe that the death rate went up because of people dying from their injuries.
The night before the tornado hit (May 6, 1840), there was a lightning storm that also brought 3 inches of rain. The real devastation came from the river that rolled between Natchez and Vidalia. There was a lot of activity going on in the river. May 7, 1840, at noon there was a severe thunderstorm with fast winds and heavy rain struck the two towns. Unaware, there was a tornado forming 20 miles southwest from that very storm. Once fully formed, it moved upwards to the two towns. The river acted as a pathway for the tornado, as it followed it to the towns. At 1:45 PM, the tornado slammed into Natchez, destroying the boats and killing all of the fisherman in them. It leveled the entire town. Since there was no national aid, the townspeople had to do the best they could.
While the confirmed death count is 317, it's possible the death count could be much more than that and possibly more than that Tri-State Tornado since slaves were not counted in the death toll.