Weather Incidents Through the Years for Sullivan County Missouri Genealogy (MOGen) Web Project.

Weather Incidents in Sullivan County Through the Years

Tornado strikes an old building.Weather affects us and it affected our ancestors. Blizzards are rough even today. Imagine what it would have been like in the 1800s and early 1900s. I still have vivid memories of one that hit Grundy County in the early 1960s.

Below is a list of weather incidents found for Sullivan County throughout the years. Incidents are sourced & have a number (example: 21). Source listings associated with the number are at the bottom of the page.


  • Apr. 27 - The town of Newtown, Missouri was destroyed & 20 people killed by a tornado. The tornado also was devastating to Kirksville in adjoining Adair County. See write-up online; contains list of people killed or injured.
  • "In 1899 it registered -22° ..." 10


  • Feb. 2 - "A blizzard, from the north and northwest raged all day." 1
  • Aug. 1 - "Last Sunday the long drought was broken by about an inch and a half of rain that fell."
    • More follows about how the crops were affected and how the people of Sullivan County handled the decrease of expected income. 2


  • Apr. 24 - "Sullivan Co. was visited by gale force winds and heavy rain. The wind reached almost hurricane force and continued until midnight."
    • Documented in the source is multiple buildings destroyed and includes some names.

    "On Monday night, heavy rains began breaking the severe drought, accompanied by much lightning, passed over the county." One person was severely injured.

    • Web Coordinator Note: the previous year was also hit with a drought. See entry for Aug. 1st, 1901. 3
  • May - "A cyclone and terrible twisteer wrought havoc Friday evening about 5:30 p.m. destroying everything in its path and did vast damage in both Sullivan and Linn Counties. It seems to have started in Sullivan County on Parson Creek. But for cellars and caves a large number of people would have certainly been killed. It was a miracle anyway, that no fatalities occurred. 26
    • Web Coordinator Note: The dates for Fridays in 1902 are May 2, 9, 16, 23, 30.


  • Jun. 4 - “A steady downpour of rain for the past week has stopped all trains on the O.K. and Burlington railroad, has flooded the bottoms and business is at a standstill." 4
    • Web Coordinator Note: If your ancestor had low lands, according to this source the low lands were more like large lakes. Crops had to be washed out. And the years before this were drought.


  • Aug. 24 - "The electrical storm which occured Monday night, or early Tuesday morning did a great deal of damage in Green City." One specific home mentioned & the general damage. 5


  • Apr. 16 - "Snow covered the ground April 16." 27
  • Jul. - "Sullivan County Creeks overflowed after heavy rains. No mail came in from Monday until Thursday. Considerable damage was done to county bridges and thousands of acres of corn were under water. [Sometime in] (July). 29


  • Aug. 15 - "High Water Gets Into Osgood Homes
       Monday about noon rain began falling, gradually getting worse until it came down in torrents ... rained hard only about half an hour ... flooding the streets ... almost knee deep to men on the sidewalk, drowning chickens, rats, and anything else in its path." More informatiion followed regarding damage to two specific homes. 6


  • Jan - As of January 1944, "the wettest Jan. was 1916 when 8.53 inches rain fell." 17
  • Feb - "Thermometers registered from 14 to 24 degrees below zero during February." 29


  • Jan. 13 - The thermometer registered 17 below on January 13." 26


  • Jan. 11 - The temperture on "... Jan. 11th, 1918 [was] -20°." 10
  • Jan. 17 - "Last Friday, one of the worst storms in years reached Milan. ... 20-26 below zero Saturday morning at 8 o'clock ... heavy snow ... Drifts ... from 6 to 10 feet deep. ... Many head of stock froze to death." 7
  • Jun. 24 - "Tornado In Sullivan County Kills Six - A tornado cutting a swath of fourth of a mile wide and more than three miles long mowed through a section of Sullivan County on Monday, June 24, 1918, about 6 p.m., leaving six killed and twelve injured." 8
    • The 2.5 pages in the source are from the 'Milan Standard' newspaper. Property damage to specific homes, those who were killed or injured. This was a devastating storm with the unusual tornado actions such as stripping off the harness and collars from mules but leaving the mules uninjured.


  • Jan. - "January 1919 had only .13 inch of precipitation ..." 17 See Jan. 1916 and 1919 entry.
  • Jun. 24 - "Tornado sweeps county bringing death to seven. Giant twister strikes north of Green City Monday afternoon, rsulting in the greatest catastrophe Sullivan County ever experienced."25


  • Sept. 16 - "Terrible Tornado Wrecks Several Homes In Sullivan County; Barns and Outhouses Blown Down; Corn Ruined; Hail Stones Large as Goose Eggs." 9
    • Specifics about county folks homes provided. The hail that was brought into the Milan Standard newspaper office measured ten inches around.


  • Mar. 21 - "Freezing weather March 21 did much damage to the fruit crop." 29
  • Jul. 4 @11:30 a.m. - "almost without warning, a severe rain storm approached, swept over the [Pollock July 4th] crowd and deluged the merry makers. ... The sun appeared almost as suddenly as it had disappeared." The description of that day includes what happened to ladies hair-dos, falling into overflowing ditches, etc. 32


  • Jan. 4 - "The coldest weather since 1899 was recorded in Milan, 19° below. In 1899 it registered -22°, Jan. 11th, 1918, -20°." 10
  • Jan.23 - "the railroad thermometer registered 34° below zero." 12
  • Feb. 7 - "A heavy snow blanketed Sullivan County. Many of the roads were impassable, some mail carriers did not go, schools were closed and trains discontinued." 11


  • Last Week of Oct. - "About six inches of snow fell in Pollock the last week in October." 26


  • Oct. 6 - "The first ice of the season appeared the 6th of October." 26


  • Mar. 1-10 - "The ground was covered with snow the first 10 days of March." 27
  • May - "Weather records revealed this as the driest May in 97 years." 29
  • "One-third of the nation was suffering from drought." Note from web maintainer: Probably part of the great drought causing the dust bowl. 28


  • Feb. - "The coldest weather for several years has been recorded here. Tuesday and Wednesday morning (Feb. 4-5) a reading of 32° below was recorded at the dispatcher's office. There as been only 2 or 3 nights in the past three weeks that the temperature hasn't been below zero." Quail were starving & were fed by local farmers. 13
  • Feb. 7 and 8 - "A severe storm struck Feb. 7 and 8 resulting in train service being annulled." 13
  • Post Jul. 4 - "Thermometers had registered above 100 degrees since July 4 and during the middle of July registered 110 to 118. Gardens and crops were suffering from extreme heat and drought." 29


  • Jan. - "A severe ice storm struck north Missouri, including Sullivan County, covering the ground with a deep coating of ice. ... The ice remained on the ground over five weeks." 14 As expected in such an ice storm, the entry includes comments about the struggle to handle the livestock and that people were injured by falls. Travel was hazardous.
  • Jan. 6 - "About 3 inches of sleet and ice covered the ground. A round sleet began falling the night of January 6, then was followed by a layer of freezing rain. This laid on the ground about 5 weeks. 26


  • Apr. 12 - "A snow storm raged on April 12. Temperature was near freezing most of the day." 27
  • Jun. 10 - "... heavy showers ... fell all morning ..." 15 On this date the corner stone of the new court house was laid & included a parade. Source includes the parade order and what things were included in the corner stone.


  • Mar. 14 - "A tornado left a trail of destruction across Sullivan County. The tornado struck Sullivan Co., in the vicinity of Osgood ... The town of Pollock was the most severely hit area in Sullivan County." 16 The source provides specific homes and buildings that were badly damaged or destroyed in Osgood, Pollock and northwest of Milan.


  • Mar. 15 @ 5:00 p.m. - "the [Pollock Methodist] church was destroyed by a tornado March 15, 1943 at approximately 5:00 p.m. ... The church was completely demolished. ... A new Church was built on the corner of C and Sixth [in Pollock] where Morlan's drug store stood before the tornado struck." 30

    The day [the tornado struck] had been quite warm and muggy for that time of year. The menacing cloud suddenly boiled over the horizon and began sweeping the countryside." Coverage of the tornado including pictures, what homes, buildings, and families were affected are covered on three pages. 31 "By the next morning the temperature had dropped many degrees; everything was solidly frozen adding to the discomfort." 33


  • Jan. 1944 - "was the second driest January in 107 years according to St. Louis weather station and also the warmest since 1934. 17


  • Sept. 27 - "A heavy frost and light ice was reported on September 27. 29


  • Feb. 11 - "The worst snowstorm of the season fell in Sullivan Co. Tuesday and Wednesday." 18
  • Mar. 10 - The "official weatherman of Milan, reported 5 1/2 inches of snow had fallen Tuesday and Wednesday making a total of 34 inches received here since Nov. 16, 1959. Snow has covered the ground for 52 consecutive days." 18 The name of the weatherman is in the source but not posted here since it is quite possible he is still living.
  • Mar. 15 - "Sullivan County was again hit by a heavy snow storm that dumped 9 inches of new snow on top of the old." 18


  • Apr. 27 - "Tornado Rips Through Humphreys ... The force of the tornado reached the town about 2 p.m. ... Children [at school] were placed under desks and in hallways. The school escaped serious damage. No one in Humphreys was killed in spite of the fact some residents were in their homes when they were destoryed." 19 The source provides more information about who warned the school as well as what homes & farms were heavily damaged or destroyed.


  • Jul. 17 - "Severe storms again swept across Sullivan County last Saturday night. It damaged homes, businesses, farm buildings and crops.
        Damage to the Fowler Elevator at Newtown was estimated as between $25,000 and $35,000." 20


  • Jan. 3 - "... sleet, ice and snow beginning Jan. 3 knocked out electrical and telephone service." 24
  • Jan. 4 - "Freezing rain, sleet and snow fell over the county knocking out electrical service, downing trees, service wires and curtailing telephone calling.
        The rain began Tuesday night. School was suspended Wednesday, the rain turned to sleet and practically all activity stopped. A couple of inches of snow fell, tree limbs would break with the sound of a rifle shot and North Central Missouri Electric Cooperative, Inc. had outages over a three county area." 21 The source does not state what other counties were affected.
  • Apr. 12 - "An old fashioned blizzard struck this area Sunday evening, continued through Monday and Tuesday and dumped about 10 to 12 inches of snow on the helpless citizines.
        Drifts were so deep travel was impossible. Visibility was reduced to zero. The storm became so vicious the snow plows were taken off the highways." 22 The source provides data on the estimated loss of livestock to local area farmers as well as the statistics release by the highway department on how many people were rescued (and the reason) as well as the amount of equipment needed to clear the roadways.
  • Apr. 26 - "A tornado traveling in a northeasterly direction, mowed a swath for approximately six to ten miles through Mercer and Putnam Counties." 21 Mercer and Putnam counties are adjacent to Sullivan.
  • Jun. 21 - "Saturday night, a severe storm swept through the county about 6 p.m." 23 The source specifies the two buildings that were destroyed.

1. Page 26 "The Complete History Of Sullivan County Missouri Volume II 1900-1979," compiled and written by Gladys Wells Crumpacker. Publisher: History Publications Inc., Milan, MO, 1980. Footnote Abbreviation: CHSCMII
2. Page 31 - CHSCMII
3. Page 36 - CHSCMII
4. Pages 39-40 - CHSCMII
5. Page 48 - CHSCMII
6. Page 97 - CHSCMII
7. Page 101 - CHSCMII
8. Pages 105-107 - CHSCMII
9. Page 135 - CHSCMII
10. Page 143 - CHSCMII
11. Page 144 - CHSCMII
12. Page 169 - CHSCMII
13. Page 184 - CHSCMII
14. Page 185 - CHSCMII
15. Page 190 - CHSCMII
16. Page 225 - CHSCMII
17. Page 226 - CHSCMII
18. Page 314 - CHSCMII
19. Page 350 - CHSCMII
20. Page 363 - CHSCMII
21. Page 415 - CHSCMII
22. Page 418 - CHSCMII
23. Page 419 - CHSCMII
24. Page 420 - CHSCMII
25. Page 69 "Green City Centennial 1880-1980" compiled by The Milan Standard, Publisher: Green City Centennial Association, 1980. Footnote Abbreviation: GCC
26. Page 46 "Pollock Centennial" compiled by Gladys Wells Crumpacker, Publisher: The Pollock Centennial Committee, 1973. Footnote Abbreviaction: PC
27. Page 47 - PC
28. Page 48 - PC
29. Page 49 - PC
30. Page 107 - PC
31. Page 135 - PC
32. Page 138 - PC
33. Page 137 - PC

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Page last modified: hand October 10, 2011