A major tornado outbreak occurred from North Dakota & Minnesota to Iowa, Missouri, Texas, Arkansas & Missouri in mid-April 1886. 19 tornadoes occurred in Iowa alone with multiple long-track strong to violent EF3-EF4 tornadoes. A single EF4 tornado in Minnesota, the long-track north-central twister, killed 72 & injured +200. Large hail also occurred with many storms. Large hail accumulated 6″ deep northeast of Kansas City, Missouri.
The closest significant tornado to the Tri-State was a destructive potentially EF3 tracked through southeastern Missouri, hitting Scott County particularly hard. I could not find any literature regarding tornado passage over the Mississippi into southern Illinois, but wind damage to trees & barns was reported from Saline County.
Wind damage to farms was also reported west of Terre Haute, Indiana near the state line. In fact, one 80-year old Terre Haute resident, seeing the ominous storm approaching, ran outside to collect laundry from the clothes line. As she was doing this, in a frenzy from the scary sky, she left the cellar door open & fell down the cellar, later dying.
This outbreak set the tone for 1886. It saw the greatest number of tornadoes on record for the State of Indiana & north-central & central Indiana saw it’s most prolific violent tornado outbreak on record in mid-May 1886. A single tornado killed 43 & injured +100 at Anderson, Indiana. Even the Tri-State got in on the severe outbreaks with tornadoes & severe weather occurring in spring & fall.
On a bit of a side note, regarding the April 1886 outbreak, notice the number of large hail reports in California to Arizona & New Mexico. In fact, severe t’storms with wind damage was reported from Los Angeles & San Diego areas. This shows the intensity of the upper trough & very cold air aloft with this system.
Also, this followed up to 9″ of snow in the Tri-State April 3 from a storm system that brought a major blizzard to southeastern Michigan, northwestern Ohio & Ontario. This apparent bomb was comparable to the 1978 storm near Toledo, Ohio to Detroit & Port Huron, Michigan & Sarnia, Ontario. The extreme wind & heaviest snowfall was not as widespread as 1978 bomb, nor was it as cold. Nonetheless, the heavy, heavy wet snow & high winds downed trees & powerlines.
Notice the height anomalies April 11-15, 1886………This show deep, deep upper trough in the west with a negative tilt & the stronger upper ridge to the northeast.
Such blocking was also instrumental in the great April 2011 tornado outbreaks in the South.
Notice surface low near San Francisco April 11, 1886 at 7 a.m. Low pivots through the Rockies to Northern Plains April 12 to 13 to 14. Even the surface features show the negatively-tilted system (key component to this significant outbreak). For example, the February 1884 outbreak featured a strongly negatively-tilted system.